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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 Jun 8, 2023, 10:41 am
  #751  
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 28
Not 100% sure but I don't see why not. You have a paid Z ticket which should make you eligible, regardless of your ticket's destination
akiberg is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 10:42 am
  #752  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: YVR - MILLS Waypoint (It's the third house on the left)
Programs: AC*SE100K, wood level status in various other programs
Posts: 6,326
The answer is No, but the details can be found here.

Relevant eligibility text:

* Air Canada Signature Class customers travelling on a non-stop Air Canada-operated flight (to Europe, Asia and South America) originally booked and ticketed in the following booking classes will be eligible for access to the Air Canada Signature Suite: J, C, D, Z, P. 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. All bookings in R class (including, but not limited to, eUpgrades, Last-Minute Upgrades, and AC Bid Upgrades), Aeroplan flight rewards booked as a Business Class Lowest Reward or a First Class Lowest Reward, Star Alliance Upgrade Awards, Business Class flight rewards booked and ticketed by partner airlines, and I (including Star Alliance Upgrade Awards), as well as bookings made during irregular operations where the customer was not originally booked and confirmed in one of the eligible booking classes, will be excluded. Eligible customers may not invite guests. Access to the Air Canada Signature Suite is not available to customers travelling on promotional tickets or employees.
Bohemian1 is online now  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 10:43 am
  #753  
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Toronto, ON
Programs: AC 75K
Posts: 6,372
Originally Posted by akiberg
Not 100% sure but I don't see why not. You have a paid Z ticket which should make you eligible, regardless of your ticket's destination
Ah no. There are absolutely restrictions based on your destination.
Xyzzy and canadiancow like this.
ChrisA330 is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 10:44 am
  #754  
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: YYZ
Programs: Air Canada Aeroplan
Posts: 227
Originally Posted by akiberg
Not 100% sure but I don't see why not. You have a paid Z ticket which should make you eligible, regardless of your ticket's destination
Are you sure? The small prints on the SS page says this:*Air Canada Signature Class customers travelling on an Air Canada-operated flight (to Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia) originally booked and ticketed in the following booking classes will be eligible for access to the Air Canada Signature Suite: J, C, D, Z, P. "

https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/....html#/asterix
SkyExplorerYYZ is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 10:44 am
  #755  
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 28
I stand corrected.
akiberg is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 10:45 am
  #756  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 76
Originally Posted by Bohemian1
The answer is No, but the details can be found here.

Relevant eligibility text:
Wow. I wonder - what is the logic of building a premium lounge and only offering it to your customers in one direction?
king1983 is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 10:46 am
  #757  
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Toronto, ON
Programs: AC 75K
Posts: 6,372
Originally Posted by king1983
Wow. I wonder - what is the logic of building a premium lounge and only offering it to your customers in one direction?
It has nothing to do with you coming from Europe. It has everything to do with Latin/Central American destinations do not quality for Sig. Suite access.

Further, I guess you're not familiar with international arrivals into Canadian Airports where you are completely segregated from the departures area.
Eagle2000 likes this.
ChrisA330 is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 10:48 am
  #758  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 76
Originally Posted by ChrisA330
It has nothing to do with you coming from Europe. It has everything to do with Latin/Central American destinations do not quality for Sig. Suite access.
Yet I'm entitled to access it on the return because I am travelling TO Europe (from Latin/ Central America). Makes no sense to me.
king1983 is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 10:49 am
  #759  
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: YYZ
Programs: Air Canada Aeroplan
Posts: 227
Originally Posted by akiberg
I stand corrected.
It's a bit of a silly rule though, no? I guess they would exclude Rouge flights but I am not sure why AC flights to South America are excluded?
SkyExplorerYYZ is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 10:50 am
  #760  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 76
Originally Posted by ChrisA330
It has nothing to do with you coming from Europe. It has everything to do with Latin/Central American destinations do not quality for Sig. Suite access.

Further, I guess you're not familiar with international arrivals into Canadian Airports where you are completely segregated from the departures area.
I missed your second line. I'm not familiar with the process of connecting internationally in YVR. Are you saying it's actually impossible for me to reach the Signature Suite, even if access was permitted on my first legs?
king1983 is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 10:51 am
  #761  
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Toronto, ON
Programs: AC 75K
Posts: 6,372
Originally Posted by Hotel 83 Tango
It's a bit of a silly rule though, no? I guess they would exclude rouge business class but I am not sure why AC flights to South America are excluded?
Flights to South America are included. There are no flights from Vancouver to South America, so it's not on the eligible destinations for the YVR SS.

Originally Posted by king1983
I missed your second line. I'm not familiar with the process of connecting internationally in YVR. Are you saying it's actually impossible for me to reach the Signature Suite, even if access was permitted on my first legs?
Correct. International Arrivals and Departures are segregated, and the Sig Suite is in the departures area.
Bohemian1 likes this.
ChrisA330 is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 10:53 am
  #762  
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Halifax
Programs: AC SE100K, Marriott Lifetime Platinum Elite. NEXUS
Posts: 4,613
Originally Posted by king1983
Wow. I wonder - what is the logic of building a premium lounge and only offering it to your customers in one direction?
When you get of an INTL flight you are shuffled into a maze that dumps you in customs and immigration. It's hardly an Air Canada "decision".
RangerNS is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 10:54 am
  #763  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 76
Originally Posted by ChrisA330
delete
But I won't be entering Canada, so surely after transit security, I would be back in international departures? Therefore a visit to SS would be possible, had it been permitted?
king1983 is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 11:03 am
  #764  
Moderator, Air Canada; FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: YYC
Programs: AC SE MM, FB Plat, WS Plat, BA Silver, DL GM, Marriott Plat, Hilton Gold, Accor Silver
Posts: 16,920
Originally Posted by king1983
Everything I have read talks about access when flying TO Europe. Apologies if this has been asked elsewhere - I did try to search for the answer but could not find it.
Moderator note: please note that access rules are covered in detail in the wiki of this thread, where I have merged the redundant new thread. I would ask that anyone still confused or uncertain of the rules please review the wiki before posting.
Adam Smith is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 11:04 am
  #765  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 76
Originally Posted by RangerNS
When you get of an INTL flight you are shuffled into a maze that dumps you in customs and immigration. It's hardly an Air Canada "decision".
And once I have cleared the formalities, I would be able to reach the SS? Access is an Air Canada decision, which was my point....
king1983 is offline  

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