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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: Bohemian1
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
  • Café: café-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 Café: the Café 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 they’re 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 Cafés, 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 doesn’t matter whether you bought the ticket through AC or if you’re 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, you’re 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.

Cafés

Can be accessed by those with a departing domestic boarding pass (no arrivals benefit for the Café) 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 Café, 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 May 24, 2022, 5:55 pm
  #61  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: YYZ
Programs: Aeroplan, TD.
Posts: 467
Originally Posted by WesternCDN
No the business leg must be departing directly from YYZ.
Sorry we are starting out from YYZ to LHR via YUL
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Old May 24, 2022, 6:01 pm
  #62  
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: YOW
Programs: AC 75K
Posts: 582
Originally Posted by Ramz
Sorry we are starting out from YYZ to LHR via YUL
Yes, the long-haul business leg to Europe, South America, Asia etc must originate in YYZ. If you were flying YUL-YYZ-LHR, or just YYZ-LHR, you would have access if you were on an eligible business class fare.
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Old May 24, 2022, 6:18 pm
  #63  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: YYZ
Programs: Aeroplan, TD.
Posts: 467
Originally Posted by WesternCDN
Yes, the long-haul business leg to Europe, South America, Asia etc must originate in YYZ. If you were flying YUL-YYZ-LHR, or just YYZ-LHR, you would have access if you were on an eligible business class fare.
Just to be clear even though we are flying domestic to YUL then LHR we can use signature suite lounge??
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Old May 24, 2022, 6:20 pm
  #64  
m.y
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: YYZ
Programs: AC 75k, Marriott Titanium
Posts: 1,154
Originally Posted by Ramz
Just to be clear even though we are flying domestic to YUL then LHR we can use signature suite lounge??
​​​​​​That is incorrect, no access to SS on the domestic leg.
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Old May 24, 2022, 6:34 pm
  #65  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: USA
Programs: AS MVPG 75K, AC SE
Posts: 346
Originally Posted by m.y
​​​​​​That is incorrect, no access to SS on the domestic leg.
While that is the policy, I think there should be some exceptions. Someone flying signature to BRU shouldn't be completely ineligible for the SS if they don't want to connect in Europe.

Edit: didn't think about the international departures area issue

Last edited by Quail; May 24, 2022 at 6:56 pm
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Old May 24, 2022, 6:47 pm
  #66  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: YYZ
Programs: Aeroplan, TD.
Posts: 467
Originally Posted by m.y
​​​​​​That is incorrect, no access to SS on the domestic leg.
That's not what I wanted to hear..LOL we should be allowed in and not penalized because its the only option we had to book to LHR via YUL and the other options were either a mixed cabin or huge amount of points to redeem for business class.
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Old May 24, 2022, 6:53 pm
  #67  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: YYC
Posts: 23,781
Originally Posted by Ramz
Just to be clear even though we are flying domestic to YUL then LHR we can use signature suite lounge??

Not only are you not allowed, but you would not have access to international departure anyway.
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Old May 24, 2022, 6:56 pm
  #68  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: YYZ
Programs: Aeroplan, TD.
Posts: 467
Originally Posted by Stranger
Not only are you not allowed, but you would not have access to international departure anyway.
Fair enough thanks.
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Old May 25, 2022, 12:45 am
  #69  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Programs: AC SE MM, BA Gold, SQ Silver, Bonvoy Tit LTG, Hyatt Glob, HH Diamond
Posts: 44,284
Originally Posted by Ramz
That's not what I wanted to hear..LOL we should be allowed in and not penalized because its the only option we had to book to LHR via YUL and the other options were either a mixed cabin or huge amount of points to redeem for business class.
Translation: "We didn't want to pay what AC wanted for a non-stop with SS access"

It wasn't the only option. It was the only option you were happy with.
canadiancow is offline  
Old Jun 4, 2022, 5:05 pm
  #70  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: London and Madrid
Programs: BA Gold, UA 2MM, Hyatt Globalist, Columbia Record & Tape Club Triple Diamond VIP
Posts: 577
Signature suite and chauffeured transfer if ticketed on United?

I’m traveling YUL-YYZ, connecting to DUB in paid business class (listed as P class on my receipt). The ticket was issued on UA stock.

Does anyone know if I’ll be eligible to use the Signature Suite or for the chauffeured transfer to the Signature Suite from a domestic flight? In the past, my tickets have always been purchased through AC but for since my return from LHR to SFO is on United, I ended up buying from UA.

Thanks in advance for your insider knowledge!
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Old Jun 4, 2022, 6:15 pm
  #71  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: YYZ
Programs: AC SE MM, Hyatt Globalist, SPG Platinum, hhonors Gold
Posts: 3,417
Originally Posted by embarcadero1
I’m traveling YUL-YYZ, connecting to DUB in paid business class (listed as P class on my receipt). The ticket was issued on UA stock.

Does anyone know if I’ll be eligible to use the Signature Suite or for the chauffeured transfer to the Signature Suite from a domestic flight? In the past, my tickets have always been purchased through AC but for since my return from LHR to SFO is on United, I ended up buying from UA.

Thanks in advance for your insider knowledge!
The ticket stock doesn’t matter. You will have access to the lounge. Limo service is not guaranteed, but you may also be selected to receive.
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Old Jun 5, 2022, 8:17 pm
  #72  
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: PDX
Programs: AS/UA/DL
Posts: 50
Does anyone have information related to the following? We have Business Class Flexible Reward tickets in I class booking on AC equipment from SFO to YYZ with a two hour layover followed by a night flight on AC equipment from YYZ to GRU. Since the flight reward tickets were booked through the United Airlines website using MileagePlus miles, it looks like we are excluded from the Signature Suite by the following language. Am I reading it correctly? Thank you.

Only Aeroplan flight rewards booked as a Business Class Flexible Reward or a First Class Flexible Reward in J, C, D, Z, P, I booking classes are eligible for access. . . . Business Class flight rewards booked and ticketed by partner airlines, . . . will be excluded.
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Old Jun 5, 2022, 8:24 pm
  #73  
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Posts: 44,284
Originally Posted by John Portland
Does anyone have information related to the following? We have Business Class Flexible Reward tickets in I class booking on AC equipment from SFO to YYZ with a two hour layover followed by a night flight on AC equipment from YYZ to GRU. Since the flight reward tickets were booked through the United Airlines website using MileagePlus miles, it looks like we are excluded from the Signature Suite by the following language. Am I reading it correctly? Thank you.
They're not "busines flexible" if they were booked through a partner.
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Old Jun 5, 2022, 9:16 pm
  #74  
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: PDX
Programs: AS/UA/DL
Posts: 50
The booking for this reservation that is displayed on the Air Canada website, accessed by using the Air Canada booking code, and the printed itinerary from the Air Canada website, prominently state that these are “Business Class (flexible) tickets.” These words appear in large print taking up about 1/3 of the page just beside the flight information.
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Old Jun 5, 2022, 9:29 pm
  #75  
 
Join Date: May 2017
Location: YEG, SFO, VCA, JR JY-13
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Posts: 919
Originally Posted by John Portland
The booking for this reservation that is displayed on the Air Canada website, accessed by using the Air Canada booking code, and the printed itinerary from the Air Canada website, prominently state that these are “Business Class (flexible) tickets.” These words appear in large print taking up about 1/3 of the page just beside the flight information.
I know what you're talking about, but the fare brand displayed part of an overall murky naming scheme, it really sucks how confusing it is. This happens when booking through non-AC channels. If a Business Class Flexible reward was booked through Aeroplan (the fare brand eligible for YYZ SS), it would say: "Business Class - Flexible Reward". Note the hyphen and the word "reward". Also note the capitalization because it's an actual brand of fares that you can purchase (your other option would be Business Class Lowest)

Because you didn't book through Aeroplan, it's simply showing a slightly different naming convention to refer to your unrestricted business class award, that Air Canada acknowledges that they will transport you on.

A better example to reinforce my point would be through a recent experience where I booked an economy class ticket via Expedia. You might know that Air Canada has Flex (a restricted economy fare) and Latitude (an unrestricted economy fare) fare brands when booking directly through AC. When you book a full fare (Y/B) through an online travel agent, and look up the reservation on AC's site, it'll show up as "Economy (flexible)" (note no hyphen, parentheses, no Economy "Class", and no proper noun for fare brand) because the website doesn't infer the fare brand at this point when showing the fare you booked...probably because I wasn't presented with the brands when booking through non-AC

Your business class ticket happens to be a flexible ticket that UA sold you, but it's not the Business Class Flexible fare brand that AC sells you allowing you entry

Of course, all this is moot if you have a paid business class fare to an eligible Signature Suite destination, regardless of who issued the ticket. Air Canada can obviously detect that, and you deep down in your heart would know you'd be able to enter

Last edited by asovse1; Jun 5, 2022 at 9:42 pm
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