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

Old Aug 16, 2022, 1:18 pm
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Last edit by: canadiancow
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 (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, 12:08 pm
  #766  
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Toronto, ON
Programs: AC 75K
Posts: 6,344
Originally Posted by king1983
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....
No - this was your point (bolding mine):

Wow. I wonder - what is the logic of building a premium lounge and only offering it to your customers in one direction?
The logic is because arriving passengers do not get access to the departures area of the terminal.
ChrisA330 is online now  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 12:10 pm
  #767  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 74
Originally Posted by ChrisA330
No - this was your point (bolding mine):



The logic is because arriving passengers do not get access to the departures area of the terminal.
Sorry, I'm lost. I am connecting to another international destination, so why would I not have access to the departures area of the terminal?
king1983 is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 12:12 pm
  #768  
Moderator, Air Canada; FlyerTalk Evangelist
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Join Date: Feb 2015
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Originally Posted by king1983
Sorry, I'm lost. I am connecting to another international destination, so why would I not have access to the departures area of the terminal?
You do. But MEX is not a long-haul destination that's eligible for the suite.
ChrisA330, Xyzzy, m.y and 3 others like this.
Adam Smith is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 12:36 pm
  #769  
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
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Programs: AC SE100K, Marriott Elite/Ambassador. NEXUS, National
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Originally Posted by king1983
Sorry, I'm lost. I am connecting to another international destination, so why would I not have access to the departures area of the terminal?
Originally Posted by Adam Smith
You do. But MEX is not a long-haul destination that's eligible for the suite.
To consolidate and clarify: You will have physical access to the door of the SSL. They will not let you in as MEX as a destination doesn't allow access.
canopus27 and JayTakesOff like this.
RangerNS is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2023, 5:20 pm
  #770  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: NYC
Programs: UA-1K MM, AA-Gold, DL-Silver, AS-MVP
Posts: 2,472
Originally Posted by king1983
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.
Why doesn't it make sense. Maybe the yields and customer experience (narrowbodies and catering) to Mexico/Central America/Caribbean don't match the overall SS experience.
hirohito888 is offline  
Old Jun 9, 2023, 9:37 am
  #771  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: YYZ / LHR
Programs: AC SE100k
Posts: 255
Also, AC markets its J product to Europe/Asia/South America as its end-to-end premium Signature Service which includes the SS. North American destinations are explicitly excluded. Note that flying in the Signature Class cabin, doesnt necessarily mean that youre going to receive Signature Service (ie flying on a wide body on a short-haul route). Catering is another area where even when flying on a wide body in J in a non-Signature route, is noticeably a step down. I dont see why its so confusing. Long-haul gets a premium service. Short-haul (even if its longish) doesnt.

https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/...e-service.html
SuperCargo is offline  
Old Jun 9, 2023, 3:36 pm
  #772  
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Ottawa, Canada.
Programs: AC*SE 2MM, Marriott*Plutonium Lifetime, other stuff
Posts: 483
Toronto MLL Domestic/Intl Guidance

On a different matter:

I have a colleague transiting Canada(domestic) - YYZ - Europe with a 10(!) hour layover at YYZ.

I would like to make his stay slightly more comfortable/productive.

I believe the lounge passes I get as Super Elite are only good for domestic and US lounges, not international, so my question is:

Can he use one of my lounge passes to access the domestic MLL in YYZ, even though his boarding pass is for an onward international flight?

TM
Travellin_man is offline  
Old Jun 9, 2023, 3:55 pm
  #773  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: YYZ / LHR
Programs: AC SE100k
Posts: 255
Originally Posted by Travellin_man
On a different matter:
Can he use one of my lounge passes to access the domestic MLL in YYZ, even though his boarding pass is for an onward international flight?
5 or 6 years ago, just after I switched my allegiances from BA to AC and I didn't know my way around YYZ T1, I ended up at the domestic MLL accidentally on my way to LHR. I got turned away and told to go to the international MLL, and this was on a J ticket, and I may have been some mid-level Elite as well (as AC had given me a status challenge during my first year, and this episode was early in my AC transition). I didn't push hard to try to get access though -- I just accepted the directions to the other MLL and headed over. Just one data point for you -- not sure how helpful it is.
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Old Jun 9, 2023, 4:36 pm
  #774  
 
Join Date: May 2023
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Originally Posted by Travellin_man
On a different matter:

I have a colleague transiting Canada(domestic) - YYZ - Europe with a 10(!) hour layover at YYZ.

I would like to make his stay slightly more comfortable/productive.
10 hour at YYZ then onwards to Europe? Is he flying overnight? If so he might as well take the UP Express downtown, have a nice lunch/early dinner at Chotto Matte, Bymark, Rosalinda or whatever, enjoy a bit of downtown sightseeing, then head back up to the airport.
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Old Jun 9, 2023, 4:59 pm
  #775  
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
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I assume its during daytime. The morning LHR hasnt be reinstated so all European flights depart in the afternoon and evening. The lounge wont be open at night either.

But I do agree that heading to the city is probably the better way of spending 10 hours. The lounge can get more chaotic than the quiet corner of the terminal when its busy.
songsc is offline  
Old Jun 9, 2023, 5:13 pm
  #776  
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Beginning June 13 you will only be able to access all lounges 3 hours before scheduled departure time unless you're VIP, a AC (not Aeroplan) cardholder, or at a connection point. Arrival access policy is remaining.
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canadiancow is offline  
Old Jun 9, 2023, 5:21 pm
  #777  
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Originally Posted by canadiancow
Arrival access policy is remaining.
About arrival, I was denied access on arrival at FRA two weeks ago,
Stranger is offline  
Old Jun 9, 2023, 5:25 pm
  #778  
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: YYZ
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Originally Posted by canadiancow
unless you're VIP, a AC (not Aeroplan) cardholder,
What do you mean by that?
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Old Jun 9, 2023, 5:28 pm
  #779  
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Originally Posted by Stranger
About arrival, I was denied access on arrival at FRA two weeks ago,
... Because the policy only allows access on arrival in North America
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canadiancow is offline  
Old Jun 9, 2023, 5:45 pm
  #780  
 
Join Date: Oct 2022
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Originally Posted by canadiancow
Beginning June 13 you will only be able to access all lounges 3 hours before scheduled departure time unless you're VIP, a AC (not Aeroplan) cardholder, or at a connection point. Arrival access policy is remaining.
They finally did this. Good that the starting Lounge I frequent the most is a United Club.
Changeup2000 is offline  

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