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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 12, 2023, 8:18 am
  #811  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Programs: AC 75K, Hertz Presidents Circle, Accor Gold, Hilton Gold, Marriott Gold
Posts: 10,079
Doesn't explicitly address arrivals access...hopefully I can still pop in for a beverage in a MLL while I wait for a ride I can't see this making any difference - I mean most lounges are a zoo...can't see people wanting to spend any significant time in them.....
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Altaflyer is offline  
Old Jun 12, 2023, 8:20 am
  #812  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Programs: AC E50K, FPC Platinum
Posts: 63
As someone at an outstation, I'm glad it won't apply to long layovers, that's the only time I'm at an airport more than 3 hours before my flight.

How many people are actually showing up that early?

Also does this mean E50k and up don't get arrival access any more?

Last edited by eastexpress; Jun 12, 2023 at 8:22 am Reason: Oops, misread
eastexpress is offline  
Old Jun 12, 2023, 8:37 am
  #813  
 
Join Date: May 2023
Location: YUL find me in Montreal
Programs: Air Canada SE, Bonvoy Gold, Hotels.com Gold
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I have to crawl across the width of the GTA to get to YYZ, so I am sometimes arriving more than 3 hours early because I left a good buffer for bad traffic.

Couldn't help but notice that they linked to "digital identification" in that press release.

So does this mean using these future eGates would require doing the digital ID stuff on the app? Ugh....

Last edited by Adam Smith; Jun 12, 2023 at 11:28 pm Reason: Merge consecutive posts by same user
warrens is offline  
Old Jun 12, 2023, 8:37 am
  #814  
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Posts: 10,079
I think Delta tried to kill arrivals access but backed off once the masses complained.
Altaflyer is offline  
Old Jun 12, 2023, 8:39 am
  #815  
 
Join Date: Oct 2022
Programs: Aeroplan SE; Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador
Posts: 1,562
Originally Posted by eastexpress
As someone at an outstation, I'm glad it won't apply to long layovers, that's the only time I'm at an airport more than 3 hours before my flight.

How many people are actually showing up that early?

Also does this mean E50k and up don't get arrival access any more?
Sometimes the flight is early evening and have to check out the hotel at noon. For me, it is exhausting towards the end of a long business trip and I would just want to find a place to sit and rest.

I no long need this now as often after I got my late hotel checkout privileges.
Changeup2000 is offline  
Old Jun 12, 2023, 8:43 am
  #816  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: SFO
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Originally Posted by Altaflyer
Doesn't explicitly address arrivals access...hopefully I can still pop in for a beverage in a MLL while I wait for a ride I can't see this making any difference - I mean most lounges are a zoo...can't see people wanting to spend any significant time in them.....
No changes to arrivals access.

AC has the data on how early people are accessing lounges from their origin airport. There are clearly enough people coming very early for them to implement such a policy in hopes of making a meaningful difference. If the number of people arriving so early were in significant then I doubt they would even bother.
Bohemian1 and Adam Smith like this.
D582 is offline  
Old Jun 12, 2023, 8:47 am
  #817  
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Location: YYJ
Programs: AC SE : Bonvoy Ambassador Elite : 47 Park Street Fractional Owner
Posts: 226
Originally Posted by TheViperOne
Just got this email
They sent out something very similar to AE Reserve card holders.

At last, some proactive behaviour from ACs Comms Department.
YYJ _SLF is offline  
Old Jun 12, 2023, 8:54 am
  #818  
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: YYZ
Programs: Air Canada Aeroplan
Posts: 227
Originally Posted by warrens
Couldn't help but notice that they linked to "digital identification" in that press release.

So does this mean using these future eGates would require doing the digital ID stuff on the app? Ugh....
I don't think so ... you can still scan a boarding pass. But scanning your face is "quicker" (as per AC).
SkyExplorerYYZ is offline  
Old Jun 12, 2023, 8:56 am
  #819  
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Programs: Aeroplan 75K, Starwood Platinum, Fairmont Club Platinum
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The issue AC ran into with Pearson Transborder in particular was that the line to get through US immigration was so long and unpredictable that people were proactively getting there at 6AM in the morning and working in the lounge. Apart from that, I'm not sure who this is targeting.
consultant_flyer is offline  
Old Jun 12, 2023, 8:59 am
  #820  
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: YYZ
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Posts: 227
Basically the email puts the lounge overcrowding blame on 35Ks and people who show up to the lounge too early?

I can see the 35K change making a difference, but realistically how many people show up to the airport more than 3 hours before their flight? I'm sure it happens to all of us occasionally but I am not sure that it will have a dramatic impact on overcrowding?

How's the MLL been since 35K no longer have access? Still crowded with a wait to get in?
flyingcrooked likes this.
SkyExplorerYYZ is offline  
Old Jun 12, 2023, 9:36 am
  #821  
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Posts: 64
Well, there go the days of working from the lounge because the only time you had to go to the airport between meetings was more than 3 hours before departure.
razorblade705 is offline  
Old Jun 12, 2023, 9:52 am
  #822  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: YYC
Programs: AC, HH
Posts: 25
Got the email with the TD VIP. I guess a typical black card holder is "more valuable" than a typical 25K & 35K then?
chunerrr is offline  
Old Jun 12, 2023, 9:56 am
  #823  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: YVR
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The 3 hour limit will be slightly annoying for two thankfully infrequent scenarios: hotel won't extend checkout (thanks, Hilton!) and series of work meetings just before flight. One side effect will be to drive my hotel stays towards the brands that routinely permit late checkout.
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YVR4Ever is offline  
Old Jun 12, 2023, 10:00 am
  #824  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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Posts: 1,380
Originally Posted by YVR4Ever
The 3 hour limit will be slightly annoying for two thankfully infrequent scenarios: hotel won't extend checkout (thanks, Hilton!) and series of work meetings just before flight. One side effect will be to drive my hotel stays towards the brands that routinely permit late checkout.
I do something similar. 3 hours as a general rule is reasonable. But, I have occasionally shown up at an MLL at lunch time, then work from there until a late afternoon flight or early evening flight. Looks like that won't be possible anymore!
YVR4Ever likes this.
King Chung Huang is offline  
Old Jun 12, 2023, 10:01 am
  #825  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: YVR - MILLS Waypoint (It's the third house on the left)
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Posts: 6,326
While I seriously doubt that anyone is that desperate for a couple of extra hours in the MLL, I'm sure somebody will end up purchasing a refundable ticket for an earlier flight, check in on that ticket, and then cancel it after entry. Dunno if the de-duping system works fast enough to thwart this.

And No, I am not recommending this type of behavior.
Bohemian1 is online now  

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