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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 7, 2022, 11:23 am
  #76  
 
Join Date: May 2022
Location: YYZ
Programs: AC 25K/Black Card
Posts: 20
YYZ MLL Entry Requirements

Good afternoon,
Was flying out of YYZ to LIS a few weeks ago in Lufthansa economy class. I have a CIBC Aeroplan Visa infinite privilege card, which as I understand entitles me to MLL lounge access in Toronto. However, after talking with the international MLL agents, I was denied entry because my ticket was booked with Lufthansa, not AC. However, I don't see anything about this in the Credit Card Terms and Conditions (it just states that you need to have a valid ticket w/ Star alliance). I was wondering if this has happened to anyone else / if it was a valid reason to deny entry.
PS. after reproaching them and showing the terms they let me in... but still said it was technically against the rules.
Bobert59 is offline  
Old Jun 7, 2022, 11:43 am
  #77  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: YVR
Programs: AC E75K, WJ Gold, NEXUS, Marriott Gold
Posts: 303
Did you link your Aeroplan # with your Lufthansa booking?
ChrisA330 and canadiancow like this.
trek604 is offline  
Old Jun 7, 2022, 12:30 pm
  #78  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: YOW
Programs: AC E75K *G
Posts: 7,095
Originally Posted by Bobert59
they let me in... but still said it was technically against the rules.
Lounge agents are human, and we don't like to admit mistakes, so we add little excuses to save face.
zorn is offline  
Old Jun 7, 2022, 12:54 pm
  #79  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: SFO
Programs: AC SE MM, SQ Silver, Bonvoy Tit LTG, Hyatt Glob, HH Diamond
Posts: 44,043
Originally Posted by trek604
Did you link your Aeroplan # with your Lufthansa booking?
I think this is an important question.

The terms are definitely clear, but why did the system say no?
canadiancow is online now  
Old Jun 7, 2022, 1:08 pm
  #80  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: YVR
Programs: AC*SE MM, Marriott Lifetime Titanium
Posts: 4,597
I'd write in on this - you probably won't get anything but it'll give them a chance for retraining. I had similar issues at the YVR transport MLL years ago every time I tried to guest a pax on another *Alliance flight than mine (agent insisted they had to be on the same flight). Wrote in a couple times, and then it never happened again.

(side note, I believe the official *Gold rules for partner lounges have changed that they have to be on the same flight, but AC still allows any *Alliance flight)
yvr76 is offline  
Old Jun 7, 2022, 1:12 pm
  #81  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: YVR
Programs: AC E75K, WJ Gold, NEXUS, Marriott Gold
Posts: 303
Before writing in the important question to answer is if the AP# was linked on the LH res.

Relax before your flight

Access select Maple Leaf Lounges™ and Air Canada Cafs™1, 2
1 The Aeroplan number of the person accessing the benefit must be included in the qualifying reservation, and the name on the airline reservation must be identical to the name on the Aeroplan account of the traveller.

https://www.cibc.com/en/personal-ban...lege-card.html
trek604 is offline  
Old Jun 7, 2022, 1:25 pm
  #82  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,113
Originally Posted by yvr76
(side note, I believe the official *Gold rules for partner lounges have changed that they have to be on the same flight, but AC still allows any *Alliance flight)
I was able to, travelling on AC a couple of weeks ago, guest a colleague travelling on UA the United Club at SFO T3 using my AP *G. The only condition the lounge gatekeepers gave was that my colleague had to leave when I did because he was my guest.
vancouver25k is online now  
Old Jun 7, 2022, 1:52 pm
  #83  
 
Join Date: May 2017
Location: YEG, SFO, VCA, JR JY-13
Programs: hahaha
Posts: 897
There's a memorable MLL agent at YYZ Domestic who dresses down Black card holders when they simply flash their card requesting entry but didn't put their AP number on their boarding pass. Now that is proper training. He does offer to add their Aeroplan number to their reservation, though, and gasp, the scanner glows green now! Unfortunately for me it means I spend a few minutes in line waiting to get in, which is annoying, I've seen it twice now.

Originally Posted by yvr76
(side note, I believe the official *Gold rules for partner lounges have changed that they have to be on the same flight, but AC still allows any *Alliance flight)
yes, the *G rules changed in May 2021. For the MLL, I've always understood the wording on the MLL eligibility page that Aeroplan Elites are able to guest anybody on any *A flight...I still think MLL is subject to the *G rules for non-AC *G
Bobert59 likes this.
asovse1 is offline  
Old Jun 7, 2022, 2:54 pm
  #84  
 
Join Date: May 2022
Location: YYZ
Programs: AC 25K/Black Card
Posts: 20
Originally Posted by trek604
Did you link your Aeroplan # with your Lufthansa booking?
Yes, I'm not sure how to check now since the itinerary is finished but it was linked when the ticket was purchased.

Originally Posted by zorn
Lounge agents are human, and we don't like to admit mistakes, so we add little excuses to save face.
Could definitely be this yeah, just wanted to make sure it wasn't something I was missing. Next time an excuse that doesn't cause me to question my comprehension skills would be appreciated though :P

Originally Posted by vancouver25k
I was able to, travelling on AC a couple of weeks ago, guest a colleague travelling on UA the United Club at SFO T3 using my AP *G. The only condition the lounge gatekeepers gave was that my colleague had to leave when I did because he was my guest.
Good to hear it was probably just me then.

Originally Posted by yvr76
I'd write in on this - you probably won't get anything but it'll give them a chance for retraining. I had similar issues at the YVR transport MLL years ago every time I tried to guest a pax on another *Alliance flight than mine (agent insisted they had to be on the same flight). Wrote in a couple times, and then it never happened again.

(side note, I believe the official *Gold rules for partner lounges have changed that they have to be on the same flight, but AC still allows any *Alliance flight)
Will do, isn't a big deal but I'm assuming most people would probably just give up instead of going back with the terms and arguing with the agents for a bit. Would suck to miss out on the lounge because they didn't know the proper rules.
Bobert59 is offline  
Old Jun 7, 2022, 3:32 pm
  #85  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Programs: Amex Plat, Hilton Diamond, SPG Gold, Carlson Gold, CM Presidential / *A Gold, Hertz 5*
Posts: 1,640
Originally Posted by Bobert59
Yes, I'm not sure how to check now since the itinerary is finished but it was linked when the ticket was purchased.
Check to see if the miles posted
pmarrsouth is offline  
Old Jun 7, 2022, 3:54 pm
  #86  
 
Join Date: May 2022
Location: YYZ
Programs: AC 25K/Black Card
Posts: 20
Originally Posted by pmarrsouth
Check to see if the miles posted
They did not post, but I believe this is just because it was a "K" booking class which doesn't appear on Air Canada's Chart. Maybe that sounds weird but since the tickets were only $4 rt (+$300 in tax), I wouldn't blame them for not wanting to give out points.
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Bobert59 is offline  
Old Jun 9, 2022, 10:29 am
  #87  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: YVR
Programs: AC*SE MM, Marriott Lifetime Titanium
Posts: 4,597
Originally Posted by vancouver25k
I was able to, travelling on AC a couple of weeks ago, guest a colleague travelling on UA the United Club at SFO T3 using my AP *G. The only condition the lounge gatekeepers gave was that my colleague had to leave when I did because he was my guest.
Airlines are always able to allow more flexibility. It's just that the minimum threshold of *Gold rules changed.

Back in the day *Gold would get you 3 bags AC at 70 lbs, similar to Elites. Now it just gets you the minimum +1 bag.
vancouver25k likes this.
yvr76 is offline  
Old Jun 10, 2022, 8:45 pm
  #88  
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Programs: ba silver
Posts: 717
I have a question about access. I paid a little over $ 900 for a one way ticket to Bogota from Montreal via YYZ. Flight is Singature on an A-330. Return does not involve YYZ and on points so irrelevant.

If they decide to change to a narrow body with no Signature would I lose access to the suite?

Might not matter anyways since if they change to a narrow body or even worse Rouge the flight I can cancel and get a voucher or points and fly on AA for hundreds less with FL access, as I have BA Silver.
stevendorechester is online now  
Old Jun 11, 2022, 8:53 am
  #89  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Toronto - YYZ
Programs: Aeroplan/Hilton Gold/Marriott Bonvoy Titanium/Accor/Hyatt Gold Passport
Posts: 5,896
Originally Posted by stevendorechester
I have a question about access. I paid a little over $ 900 for a one way ticket to Bogota from Montreal via YYZ. Flight is Singature on an A-330. Return does not involve YYZ and on points so irrelevant.

If they decide to change to a narrow body with no Signature would I lose access to the suite?

Might not matter anyways since if they change to a narrow body or even worse Rouge the flight I can cancel and get a voucher or points and fly on AA for hundreds less with FL access, as I have BA Silver.
It would change to narrow body in the most irregular of situations. That route is cargo heavy supported by wide body operations. The only narrow body that currently has the range is the 737MAX. Highly, highly unlikely.

Last edited by ACYYZ/SD; Jun 11, 2022 at 11:31 am
ACYYZ/SD is offline  
Old Jun 14, 2022, 7:33 am
  #90  
 
Join Date: May 2022
Location: YYZ
Programs: AC 25K/Black Card
Posts: 20
Angry

Just had another encounter with a maple leaf lounge, this time in YYZ transborder. Agent denied entry and said to call visa as I wasn't showing up as a premium passenger in their system. Said to call visa, after calling they said everything is ok in their system and told me to call Aeroplan (ran out of time before my flight boarded, will call them when I get the chance). But it's definitely an interesting problem as I didn't even have priority boarding with my flight yesterday. Haven't seen this happen to anyone else and can't find anything about it online weirdly enough. I'll post another update after calling Aeroplan.
Bobert59 is offline  

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