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AC Lounge Access - physical locations and rules (2022 onwards)

Old Aug 16, 2022, 12:18 pm
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Last edit by: Adam Smith
This wiki will attempt to cover the ability to access various lounges operated by AC. Since many travellers are not familiar with the layout of Canadian airports, we will detail both physical access as well as rules.


Overview of lounges

AC has three types of lounges:
  • Maple Leaf Lounges (MLLs): essentially, regular lounges
  • Caf: caf-style lounge with limited access and grab-and-go
  • Signature Suites: essentially, only for long-haul international business class passengers
Additionally, AC shares an arrivals lounge with UA at LHR for eligible customers.

Locations & Physical Access

Lounges are in the following locations:



Notes:
  • YYZ Transborder: there are 2 MLLs, a full MLL right after US CBP and a second, small MLL near the regional gates
  • YYC Transborder: AC provides access to the Aspire lounge for status and J pax (no passes/credit cards)
  • YTZ Caf: the Caf at YTZ is an Aspire lounge (accessible via Priority Pass and other programs) co-branded by AC
  • EWR: the MLL is a co-branding of the United lounge in Terminal A; access rules are not entirely clear


Note that most of the Canadian airports used by AC have separate areas for domestic, transborder ("TB", i.e. to the US), and international flights. MLLs are often referred to based on which area of the terminal theyre in, e.g. YYZ Dom is the domestic lounge in YYZ, YUL Intl is the international lounge at YUL. Except when connecting from a domestic flight to a TB/international one, you can only use a lounge in the area from which your flight departs. For instance, a passenger flying from YYZ to LGA cannot use the YYZ Dom MLL as CATSA will not allow them to access the domestic wing; a passenger flying YXE-YYZ-LGA could use the YYZ Dom MLL as they will already be in the domestic area on arrival.

YYZ, YVR, and YUL have segregated international departures areas. The international MLLs cannot be accessed before domestic flights. In other locations, a "domestic" MLL can also be accessed before international flights.

Please note that while the US is a separate country, it is NOT an "international" destination in the way most Canadian airports and AC are set up. You can NEVER access the international lounges when departing on a flight to the US. (Passengers connecting in YVR between a domestic and US flight and following the connections path will enter the international departures area prior to the US area and although can physically access the international MLL, you will not be admitted and will be directed to the US area).

Lounges in transborder areas are after US customs pre-clearance, and can only be accessed by customers travelling to the US.


Access Rules

NEW Effective June 13, 2023
Access to Maple Leaf Lounges, Air Canada Cafs, and Signature Suites will be limited to three hours prior to scheduled departure time. Please note that this policy does not apply during flight connections or flight delays.


While it is not published at the time of writing this, the internal policy now exempts SEs and most passengers with reported disabilities (eg WCHR) from the three hour rule for Maple Leaf Lounges, but not the Signature Suite.

MLLs

Can be accessed for customers holding a SAME DAY DEPARTING boarding pass (for a flight operated by AC or another *A member) based on:
  • Status
    • Aeroplan 35K (domestic and transborder only; no guests; until June 1 2023 - no access on or after)
    • Aeroplan 50K and up (spouse/partner, dependent children, and one guest)
    • Star Alliance Gold (one guest)
    • VA Velocity Platinum or Gold (one guest)
    • Emirates SkyWards Platinum or Gold (one guest)
  • Class of service:
    • Business class (on AC or another *A carrier)
    • Premium rouge
  • Passes(passes may only be valid for certain locations, e.g. domestic/TB - Assume your pass is not valid for any International lounge)
    • Given out to those with AC status
    • Given out to certain credit card holders
    • Purchased directly from AC as an add-on to the flight, either in advance or at the lounge
  • Credit cards (no passes required, only for MLLs located within Canada and the US. No access to LHR, CDG, or FRA lounges):
    • TD VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • CIBC VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • Amex Aeroplan Reserve cards

Domestic MLLs in Canada, and MLLs in the USA, can also be accessed by those ARRIVING on an Air Canada mainline, rouge or Express flight, for those holding 50K status and higher.


Signature Suites

Signature Suites require both (a) an eligible fare and (b) an eligible destination. Your flight must be a flight operated by Air Canada that is departing internationally from Toronto or Vancouver. It doesnt matter whether you bought the ticket through AC or if youre on an AC codeshare, or if your itinerary has other international connections. Unless your flight is operated by Air Canada, and is advertised as Signature Class, and is departing internationally from Toronto or Vancouver, youre not eligible. The only exception is Emirates First Class - see below.

Eligible fares:
  • Paid business class (originally booked in J, C, D, Z, or P classes)
  • Business Class (Flexible) Aeroplan tickets - note that only Air Canada can ticket Flexible reward tickets; the website may incorrectly display a partner reward as Flexible
  • First Class (Flexible) Aeroplan tickets when travelling on an Air Canada segment in Business Class
  • Emirates First Class (one guest)

Eligible destinations:
  • South America (Colombia and south)
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Australia and New Zealand

NOT accessible to:
  • Passengers in business class on any type of upgrades (eUpgrades, Last-Minute Upgrades, bid upgrades, Star Alliance Upgrade Awards)
  • Anyone booked in Business Class (Lowest) reward tickets
  • Anyone booked on a reward ticket through a partner airline, e.g. United MileagePlus, Miles & More, etc
  • Passengers flying internationally with Air Canada, but who are not departing on an international Air Canada flight from Toronto or Vancouver. Example, if you are arriving on an international flight, but connecting to a US or domestic flight - you will NOT have access to the suite.

Cafs

Can be accessed by those with a departing domestic boarding pass (no arrivals benefit for the Caf) based on:
  • Status
    • Aeroplan 50K and up (spouse/partner, dependent children, and one guest)
    • Star Alliance Gold (one guest)
    • Emirates SkyWards Platinum or Gold (one guest)
  • Class of service:
    • Business class (there is no business class service from YTZ, but a business class boarding pass for the subsequent flight enables access)
    • Premium rouge
  • Credit cards:
    • TD VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • CIBC VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • Amex Aeroplan Reserve cards
Passengers arriving on a domestic flight with a connection to a US or international destination, although you can physically access the Caf, you will not be admitted. eGates have been updated to enforce the access policy.

While it is not published, the internal policy exempts SEs from that requirement, so you should be admitted.

LHR Arrivals Lounge

AC shares an arrivals lounge with UA at LHR, accessible to the following customers upon exiting the baggage hall in Terminal 2:
  • Business Class (Including upgrades to J)
  • Aeroplan Super Elite (one guest) when arriving on an Air Canada flight
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AC Lounge Access - physical locations and rules (2022 onwards)

Old Mar 5, 2023, 12:48 pm
  #631  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,309
Originally Posted by AMJP
I have a long layover in Toronto on my my way to Dallas. Can I use the domestic CAfe, in D gates, before I go through the security for the US gates. I prefer that lounge to the transborder one. Tks
I have done this last year. I don't know if they have changed anything in the meantime.

Edit: I just used the turnstiles with my IAH bound BP, so it wasn't agent discretion that I got in. I guess they changed the programming.

Last edited by vancouver25k; Mar 5, 2023 at 1:27 pm
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Old Mar 5, 2023, 1:13 pm
  #632  
 
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Originally Posted by AMJP
I have a long layover in Toronto on my my way to Dallas. Can I use the domestic CAfe, in D gates, before I go through the security for the US gates. I prefer that lounge to the transborder one. Tks
You won't be allowed access to the Cafe as you must be taking a domestic flight to access it. There is no arrival access. The wiki (first post) mentions this. "Passengers arriving on a domestic flight with a connection to a US or international destination, although you can physically access the cafe, you will not be admitted."
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Old Mar 5, 2023, 1:15 pm
  #633  
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There may be some agent discretion there, but an SE MM in full J YYT-YYZ-SFO is pretty close to as high as you can get, and I was told it was for domestic departing passengers only.
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Old Mar 6, 2023, 6:11 pm
  #634  
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Can I suggest an update to the wiki? I think on the Signature Suites access portion it currently reads:

NOT accessible to:
  • Passengers in business class on any type of upgrades (eUpgrades, Last-Minute Upgrades, bid upgrades, Star Alliance Upgrade Awards)
  • Anyone booked in Business Class (Lowest) reward tickets - this includes any rewards ticketed by an Aeroplan partner, e.g. United MileagePlus, Miles & More, etc)
  • Passengers flying internationally with Air Canada, but who are not departing on an International Air Canada flight from Toronto or Vancouver. Example, if you are arriving on an International flight, but connecting to a US or domestic flight - you will NOT have access to the suite.
This makes it unclear whether those who book via an Aeroplan Partner, but have business flexible tickets such as mine have access. Especially because Air Canada makes it so unclear because they say you have access to premium airport services.


Try updating to:

NOT accessible to:
  • Passengers in business class on any type of upgrades (eUpgrades, Last-Minute Upgrades, bid upgrades, Star Alliance Upgrade Awards)
  • Anyone booked in Business Class (Lowest)
  • Any rewards ticketed by an Aeroplan partner, e.g. United MileagePlus, Miles & More, etc)
  • Passengers flying internationally with Air Canada, but who are not departing on an International Air Canada flight from Toronto or Vancouver. Example, if you are arriving on an International flight, but connecting to a US or domestic flight - you will NOT have access to the suite.
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Old Mar 6, 2023, 6:16 pm
  #635  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,309
Originally Posted by kbooks66
This makes it unclear whether those who book via an Aeroplan Partner, but have business flexible tickets such as mine have access. Especially because Air Canada makes it so unclear because they say you have access to premium airport services.
Although because of the above, if I were you, I would still check your BP to see if it says SS access included.
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Old Mar 6, 2023, 6:47 pm
  #636  
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Originally Posted by kbooks66
This makes it unclear whether those who book via an Aeroplan Partner, but have business flexible tickets such as mine have access. Especially because Air Canada makes it so unclear because they say you have access to premium airport services.

I'm not opposed to a change like that, but to be clear, that's a display issue on the website. You do not have a Business Flexible booking. You cannot book Business Flexible rewards through partners.
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Old Mar 6, 2023, 7:06 pm
  #637  
 
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A couple of months ago I flew YYZ-YEG one evening with a YEG-SFO boarding pass on hand for departure the next morning. I scanned the latter BP at the YEG MLL and was let in. There was a tiny suspicion in my head that it referred to my FFP's on-arrival benefit via the Toronto flight on my profile

This morning I flew YXX-YEG and scanned into the MLL with tomorrow's YEG-SFO boarding pass and was let in

It's nice to have a better idea as to how it works now.
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Old Mar 6, 2023, 7:10 pm
  #638  
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I've used the wrong boarding pass accidentally a bunch, and then I found a lounge agent who was willing to test it out with me.

As SE, I think it was something along the lines of any BP departing from or arriving at the local airport within 24 hours of the current time.
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Old Mar 6, 2023, 7:16 pm
  #639  
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Originally Posted by canadiancow
I'm not opposed to a change like that, but to be clear, that's a display issue on the website. You do not have a Business Flexible booking. You cannot book Business Flexible rewards through partners.
Fair but as someone with very little experience with AC and when the lounge rules of entry say Business Flexible, I would assume my ticket that says Business (Flexible) would give me access. So the update would make life confusing for anyone who comes here for answers
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Old Mar 6, 2023, 8:37 pm
  #640  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
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Originally Posted by kbooks66
Fair but as someone with very little experience with AC and when the lounge rules of entry say Business Flexible, I would assume my ticket that says Business (Flexible) would give me access. So the update would make life confusing for anyone who comes here for answers
Perhaps the useful update to the wiki is then to state what cow said:
- it's not possible to book J flex through partners, and any indication of such is a webpage rendering error
- thus SS not being permitted is consistent with the rules as stated
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Old Mar 7, 2023, 6:33 am
  #641  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
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Originally Posted by kbooks66
Can I suggest an update to the wiki?

(......) Try updating to:

NOT accessible to:
  • Passengers in business class on any type of upgrades (eUpgrades, Last-Minute Upgrades, bid upgrades, Star Alliance Upgrade Awards)
  • Anyone booked in Business Class (Lowest)
  • Any rewards ticketed by an Aeroplan partner, e.g. United MileagePlus, Miles & More, etc)
  • Passengers flying internationally with Air Canada, but who are not departing on an International Air Canada flight from Toronto or Vancouver. Example, if you are arriving on an International flight, but connecting to a US or domestic flight - you will NOT have access to the suite.
The second bullet should say "Any rewards booked in Business Class (Lowest)"

Paid seats in business lowest *are* eligible for access
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Old Mar 10, 2023, 7:14 pm
  #642  
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I just noticed on AC's website that the sale of lounge memberships has been suspended. Is AC planning to resume selling them in the near future?
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Old Mar 11, 2023, 10:57 am
  #643  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
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LHR arrivals lounge access

Just in case this is of use to anyone: I was looking at the access rules for the UA/AC arrivals lounge in LHR and they do not specify fare class or any exceptions, so I was hoping that I could go in on a R-space ticket in business (eUp from latitude). I sent a query to Customer Services and quite a while later I received a phone call from an agent who said that yes I can use it as there are no fare class exemptions (wahoo!). Ten minutes later they called back to say they were wrong and in fact only SE100k members can use the lounge on an upgraded ticket (d'oh!). Disappointed but not surprised.
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Old Mar 11, 2023, 11:14 am
  #644  
 
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Originally Posted by lsquare
I just noticed on AC's website that the sale of lounge memberships has been suspended. Is AC planning to resume selling them in the near future?
Near future, I doubt it. Lounges are still too crowded as it is. AC is removing lounge access from 35K members in June and I think they will evaluate where they are after the summer travel season to see if and when lounge passes can be sold again.

Originally Posted by chris-price
Just in case this is of use to anyone: I was looking at the access rules for the UA/AC arrivals lounge in LHR and they do not specify fare class or any exceptions, so I was hoping that I could go in on a R-space ticket in business (eUp from latitude). I sent a query to Customer Services and quite a while later I received a phone call from an agent who said that yes I can use it as there are no fare class exemptions (wahoo!). Ten minutes later they called back to say they were wrong and in fact only SE100k members can use the lounge on an upgraded ticket (d'oh!). Disappointed but not surprised.
That's not correct. As long as you fly AC to LHR and have an arriving AC J boarding pass you can use the lounge (no guests). SEs who fly AC to LHR can enter regardless of their class of service (J, O or Y), and can bring a one guest.

Last edited by D582; Mar 11, 2023 at 11:19 am
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Old Mar 11, 2023, 1:14 pm
  #645  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
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YVR Dom was interleaving SE and non-SE lines. I guess if they didn't, the non-SEs would never make it in.
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