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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 Dec 6, 2023, 5:15 pm
  #1441  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
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So the SE 3 hour exemption applies to MLL, not SS, and I'm unsure about Cafe.

Basically places they know no one who flies enough to be SE would try to spend extra time in
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Old Dec 6, 2023, 7:37 pm
  #1442  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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Originally Posted by canadiancow
So the SE 3 hour exemption applies to MLL, not SS, and I'm unsure about Cafe.
Does the 3 hour rule apply to SS if part of a connection?
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Old Dec 6, 2023, 7:44 pm
  #1443  
 
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I was at the SS last week and showed up at the 2hr mark and was told by both the check in agent and manager that SEs are exempt from the 3hrs limit even if I was travelling with someone on the same PNR that is not a SE (like a +1).

Would be nice if there was an official policy we could refer to or an email that states that.
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Old Dec 6, 2023, 8:36 pm
  #1444  
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
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Originally Posted by MillennialMiles
I was at the SS last week and showed up at the 2hr mark and was told by both the check in agent and manager that SEs are exempt from the 3hrs limit even if I was travelling with someone on the same PNR that is not a SE (like a +1).

Would be nice if there was an official policy we could refer to or an email that states that.
That would be good.

I also got in ~4 hrs prior to departure in October at the YYZ location. I simply asked may I use the SE option to enter more than 3 hours prior and that was immediately granted.
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Old Dec 6, 2023, 8:49 pm
  #1445  
 
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Originally Posted by canadiancow
Basically places they know no one who flies enough to be SE would try to spend extra time in
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Old Dec 7, 2023, 9:44 am
  #1446  
 
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Originally Posted by taupo
Does the 3 hour rule apply to SS if part of a connection?
No it does not, I was there for 4h during a layover, but agent had to override something, even though the system showed I was connecting from LGA.
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Old Dec 7, 2023, 8:47 pm
  #1447  
 
Join Date: Dec 2023
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No Signature Suite for YVR->SYD

We booked a full-fare J class ticket to SYD from YVR expecting to be able to take advantage of the Signature Suite lounge. When we tried to enter, we were not allowed. The host told us that our boarding pass said Invitation Lounge/Salon but not Signature Suite. I called Air Canada customer service and discovered that SS is not included for departures to Sydney. She said it is included for departures to Asia, CDG, FRA, but not Sydney. Kind of odd that a shorter flight to Europe qualifies, but not Australia.
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Old Dec 7, 2023, 8:50 pm
  #1448  
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
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Sounds wrong.
We were recently in the SS in Vancouver for a flight to Auckland
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Old Dec 7, 2023, 9:04 pm
  #1449  
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Originally Posted by ku_jhawk
We booked a full-fare J class ticket to SYD from YVR expecting to be able to take advantage of the Signature Suite lounge. When we tried to enter, we were not allowed. The host told us that our boarding pass said “Invitation Lounge/Salon” but not Signature Suite. I called Air Canada customer service and discovered that SS is not included for departures to Sydney. She said it is included for departures to Asia, CDG, FRA, but not Sydney. Kind of odd that a shorter flight to Europe qualifies, but not Australia.
With this being your first post, welcome to FT.

This is incorrect. Flights to Australia are definitely eligible for SS access, as is clearly explained on the AC website. I'm not sure what you mean by "full fare J class", but reward tickets aren't eligible (unless they're Aeroplan Business (Flexible)), nor are any types of upgrades. If you purchased a business class ticket for cash, you almost certainly should have been eligible, and some combination of a technical glitch and/or staff incompetence didn't get you in.

But flights to Australia are definitely eligible.
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Old Dec 7, 2023, 9:06 pm
  #1450  
 
Join Date: Mar 2023
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Originally Posted by ku_jhawk
We booked a full-fare J class ticket to SYD from YVR expecting to be able to take advantage of the Signature Suite lounge. When we tried to enter, we were not allowed. The host told us that our boarding pass said Invitation Lounge/Salon but not Signature Suite. I called Air Canada customer service and discovered that SS is not included for departures to Sydney. She said it is included for departures to Asia, CDG, FRA, but not Sydney. Kind of odd that a shorter flight to Europe qualifies, but not Australia.
Sounds like you bought a aeroplan low J ticket. You can only get into the SS lounge with flex J aeroplan tickets.
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Old Dec 8, 2023, 9:51 pm
  #1451  
 
Join Date: Oct 2022
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I got access to YVR SS a few months ago on a paid J ticket to Sydney. I had both my lunch and dinner there (a long international connection).

If you have a paid J ticket, you have access.

The food there is meh though. I would rather leave the security and visit Richmond next time.
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Old Dec 15, 2023, 11:26 pm
  #1452  
 
Join Date: Dec 2023
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Originally Posted by foothills county flier
Sounds like you bought a aeroplan low J ticket. You can only get into the SS lounge with flex J aeroplan tickets.
We purchased a full-fare J ticket. It wasnt an award ticket. The only thing I can think of is that it was an Air NZ ticket codeshare on AC metal. Most of the threads I read here made it sound like that wasnt a problem.
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Old Dec 15, 2023, 11:33 pm
  #1453  
 
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Originally Posted by ku_jhawk
We purchased a full-fare J ticket. It wasnt an award ticket. The only thing I can think of is that it was an Air NZ ticket codeshare on AC metal. Most of the threads I read here made it sound like that wasnt a problem.
Per the Air Canada website you should have gotten in. Here are the full terms & conditions:

* 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.
​​​​​​​-RooFlyer88
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Old Dec 15, 2023, 11:53 pm
  #1454  
 
Join Date: Sep 2023
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Originally Posted by kangarooflyer88
Per the Air Canada website you should have gotten in. Here are the full terms & conditions:



-RooFlyer88
If the agent read the terms posted they would assume entry is not allowed, as Australia is not part of Europe, Asia or South America. However, these are the terms for the YYZ SS. There are separate terms for the YVR SS which show when you select it at the top of the page and include Australia and New Zeland. Maybe this was part of the problem if there was an experienced agent on duty? It's no excuse. The agents should be properly trained and admission should have been granted.
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Old Dec 18, 2023, 12:03 pm
  #1455  
 
Join Date: Aug 2023
Location: YYZ/YTZ
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Access with United Club Membership

No issues using a United Club membership to access the YYZ TB MLL with a UA ticketed BP originating in YYZ. Had to first mention I was using my UC membership, then scanned my digital UC membership card, then the UA BP.
Was worried for a bit since 1) no mention of access with UC membership in the wiki or the MLL website, and 2) there was some discussion on the UC membership access thread that MLL required a physical UC membership card for access.

Couldn't test the 3 hour rule though - I scanned in at 2 hr 55 min before departure.
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