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How to Access Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges [2021] Ricky February 8, 2021

How to Access Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges [2021]

Originally published in February 2020, this article has been updated to reflect new developments as of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the new Aeroplan program’s launch in November 2020.

The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge is a key part of the premium travel experience for Canadians.

Our national airline’s flagship airport lounges are a familiar part of the furniture at major Canadian airports, and you’ll get to visit quite a few Maple Leaf Lounge locations over the years by booking premium flights, maximizing credit card benefits, or earning Aeroplan Elite Status.

This post covers everything you need to know about getting access to the Maple Leaf Lounges in 17 airports across Canada, the US, and Europe.

In This Post

Which Maple Leaf Lounges Are Open During COVID-19?

All Maple Leaf Lounges and other Air Canada lounges were closed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 until further notice.

Since then, Air Canada has been gradually reopening some of its lounges with new biosafety measures and hygiene protocols. Currently, the following three Maple Leaf Lounges are open:

  • Vancouver (YVR) Domestic: By Gate 29
  • Calgary (YYC): By Gate C50
  • Toronto (YYZ) Domestic: Upper level, immediately past security

Note that the Montreal domestic lounge was originally promised to reopen “before Labour Day” in 2020, but has remained closed through to early 2021. As for the other Maple Leaf Lounges, with very few travellers flying at the moment, I wouldn’t expect any more lounges to reopen until the situation improves sometime down the line.

Click here for an in-depth look at the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge during COVID-19.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver (Domestic), during COVID-19

Which Airports Have Maple Leaf Lounges?

During regular times, Air Canada operates a network of 24 Maple Leaf Lounges across 17 global airports. 

Below is a list of the airports around the world where you’ll encounter a Maple Leaf Lounge. Let’s begin with the Canadian locations:

  • Vancouver (YVR) Domestic: By Gate 29

  • Vancouver (YVR) Transborder: By Gate 84

  • Vancouver (YVR) International: By Gate 52

  • Calgary (YYC): By Gate C50

  • Edmonton (YEG): South Terminal, By Gate 56 (not accessible to passengers on transborder flights)

  • Saskatoon (YXE): By Gate 5

  • Regina (YQR): Opposite Gate 5

  • Winnipeg (YWG): By Gate 9 (not accessible to passengers on transborder flights)

  • Toronto (YYZ) Domestic: Upper level, immediately past security

  • Toronto (YYZ) Transborder: Upper level, immediately past security

  • Toronto (YYZ) Transborder Express: In the commuter terminal for Gates F84–F99

  • Toronto (YYZ) International: At the end of the walkway, prior to the escalators down to the main international concourse

  • Ottawa (YOW): By Gate 19 (not accessible to passengers on transborder flights)

  • Montreal (YUL) Domestic: By Gate 1

  • Montreal (YUL) Transborder: By Gate 72

  • Montreal (YUL) International: By Gate 52

  • Halifax (YHZ): By Gate 20

  • St. John’s (YYT): By Gate 12A

For a more in-depth look at the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge experience during regular times, you can check out my reviews of the Toronto international lounge, the Calgary lounge, and the Montreal international lounge.

There are also a handful of global Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges at some of Air Canada’s major outstations. These include:

  • Los Angeles (LAX): Terminal 6, 4th floor

  • Newark (EWR): Concourse A, at the end of the corridor upon turning back after the security line 

  • New York (LGA): Concourse B, 3rd floor

  • London (LHR): Terminal 2B (satellite terminal), upper level

  • Paris (CDG): Terminal 2A, by Gate 37

  • Frankfurt (FRA): Terminal 1, Concourse B

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Frankfurt

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Frankfurt

There are a variety of ways to access the Maple Leaf Lounge. This page on the Air Canada website provides a good summary, and let’s go through each of the methods one-by-one.

1. Fly Air Canada or Star Alliance Business Class

You can access the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge if you hold a valid same-day boarding pass for a flight in business class on Air Canada or a Star Alliance partner.

Access is granted on business class tickets no matter how they were purchased (i.e., an outright paid fare, an upgrade, or an award ticket).

Business class passengers are not entitled to bring any guests with them, unless they pay a nominal fee per guest of about $20–30 depending on the time of day (and a roughly equivalent amount in the local currency for the international lounges).

You’ll also get access to the Maple Leaf Lounge if you’re flying in Air Canada Premium Rouge, but only if you’re travelling within Canada, the US, or the Sun destinations (Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean). 

If your Premium Rouge flight is to Europe, Asia, Africa, or South America, then you’ll only have the option of purchasing Maple Leaf Lounge accessing on your reservation prior to the trip, and not at the airport itself.

(Given that you’re about to embark on long-haul Premium Rouge, though, that’ll probably be the least of your worries.)

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto (Int’l)
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto (Int’l)

2. Hold a Premium Aeroplan Credit Card

The new premium Aeroplan credit cards by TD, CIBC, and American Express offer unlimited access to select Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges as a key benefit of the cards.

These cards include:

As a primary or secondary cardholder, you’re eligible to access Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges within North America prior to a same-day flight operated by Air Canada or a Star Alliance partner. Access to Maple Leaf Lounges located outside of North America is not included.

Until November 7, 2021, the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege allows cardholders to bring in one guest for free as a promotional benefit. TD and American Express cardholders may also bring in guests, but they will be subject to a fee.

3. Have Aeroplan 35K Status or Higher

Aeroplan members with Aeroplan 35K status are also entitled to unlimited lounge access at domestic and transborder lounges at Canadian airports, as well as the Maple Leaf Lounges in the United States.

Meanwhile, Aeroplan 50K members and above are entitled to unlimited lounge access at any location around the world.

In addition, Aeroplan 50K members are able to use Maple Leaf Lounges in Canada and the US upon arrival in addition to before departure, which can be a great way to unwind after a long flight before heading into the city.

Furthermore, Aeroplan 50K members and above also get to bring in a very generous number of guests: a domestic partner and up to five dependent children aged 25 and under, as well as one additional guest. (Aeroplan 35K members are not allowed to bring in guests without paying the guest access fee of $20–30.)

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge New York LaGuardia
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge New York LaGuardia

4. Use a Maple Leaf Lounge One-Time Guest Pass

Any passenger travelling on an Air Canada flight may access the Maple Leaf Lounges in the domestic or transborder departure zones of Canadian airports, as well as the lounges in the United States, when in possession of a Maple Leaf Lounge One-Time Guest Pass.

There are a couple of ways to earn One-Time Guest Passes:

  • Aeroplan members who earn Aeroplan 25K status may choose a set of two One-Time Guest Passes as a Select Benefit. 
  • Aeroplan members who earn Aeroplan 35K status receive a set of two One-Time Guest Passes as a Core Benefit. 
  • Aeroplan members who earn Aeroplan 50K status or Aeroplan 75K status receive a set of three One-Time Guest Passes as a Core Benefit. 
  • Aeroplan members who earn Aeroplan Super Elite status receive a set of four One-Time Guest Passes as a Core Benefit. 
  • Holders of the TD Aeroplan Visa Business Card or CIBC Aeroplan Visa Business Card may earn a One-Time Guest Pass for every $10,000 per cardholder year, up to a maximum of four One-Time Guest Passes.

Starting in 2021, One-Time Guest Passes will be digitalized and accessible via your Aeroplan account. You may download them in PDF format and show them upon entering the lounge to gain access.

The One-Time Guest Passes earned from Aeroplan Elite Status may be transferred to anyone, regardless of whether they are travelling with the member or not.

(Indeed, since Aeroplan 35K members and above can already access Maple Leaf Lounges as an elite benefit, as discussed above, their One-Time Guest Passes are best used as a gift for others who happen to be travelling with or without them.)

On the other hand, the One-Time Guest Passes earned from the small business credit cards can only be used by the primary or secondary cardholder, or any guests accompanying them at the time of entry. They cannot be transferred to a third party. 

5. Have Star Alliance Gold Status

In addition to Air Canada’s own elite members, travellers who have achieved Star Alliance Gold with any of Star Alliance’s other loyalty programs will also have access to Maple Leaf Lounges prior to any Star Alliance-operated flight in any class of service. 

Star Alliance Gold members are also entitled to bring one guest into the lounge with them free of charge, while additional guests would be subject to the standard guest fee.

Check out this post for the best ways to fast-track to Star Alliance Gold.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver (Int’l)

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver (Int’l)

6. Purchase Maple Leaf Lounge Access

Finally, there are a few ways to purchase Maple Leaf Lounge access, none of which represent particularly good value, but are listed here for completeness’s sake. 

The first is to get an Air Canada Maple Leaf Club membership, which come in a few different shapes and sizes, depending on which lounge locations you’re interested in and whether the membership is for just yourself or you and a partner.

The annual price levels are pretty high, though, and the money would be much better spent towards, say, the annual fee on the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card, which would get you unlimited Maple Leaf Lounge access within North America in addition to a nice signup bonus too.

Then you have the option of buying Maple Leaf Lounge access on an eligible Air Canada fare if you’ve booked into the Latitude ($25 per person), Comfort ($40), or Flex ($50) fare classes.

The value here is pretty debatable, and I think it would mostly only make sense for business travellers who value the privacy and efficiency of having a workspace in the lounge.

Finally, the Paris Maple Leaf Lounge allows Air Canada passengers travelling in any class of service to purchase access for €42 per customer – again, a price point at which only a specific segment of travellers would consider worthwhile.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Paris CDG

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Paris CDG

Other Air Canada Lounge Concepts 

In addition to Maple Leaf Lounges, you may also have access to a few of Air Canada’s other lounge concepts, which they have been slowly building out across their Canadian hubs in recent years.

The Air Canada Signature Suite first opened in Toronto a few years back, with a second location in Vancouver having opened in March 2020 (only to be immediately closed due to the pandemic).

The Signature Suite provides an elevated luxury experience prior to your long-haul business class flight with Air Canada. Premium services include sit-down dining featuring dishes by acclaimed chef David Hawksworth, a variety of high-end cocktails, spirits, and champagne, and shower rooms with luxury skincare products from Molton Brown.

Air Canada Signature Suite Toronto

Access to the Signature Suite is extremely exclusive. You’ll only get access if you’re travelling on a paid business class fare on Air Canada, or if you’ve redeemed Aeroplan points for a Business (Flexible) reward in Air Canada business class.

You won’t get access to the Signature Suite if you’ve redeemed Aeroplan points for a Business (Lowest) award, been upgraded to business class as the result of IRROPs, if you’re flying on a Star Alliance partner in business class, or by virtue of Aeroplan Elite Status of any kind.

In addition to the Signature Suite, the first-ever Air Canada Cafe was opened in Toronto last year.

This space provides a simple grab-and-go alternative to the Maple Leaf Lounge, allowing business class passengers, Altitude Elite 50K members and higher, and Star Alliance Gold members travelling on domestic flights to drop in and pick up a barista-crafted coffee, juice, or snack, maybe sit down for a few minutes, and then head on to the gate.

Air Canada Cafe Toronto

Conclusion

As a Canadian premium traveller, you’ll never go too far without hanging out in a Maple Leaf Lounge somewhere, and you’ll soon become very familiar with the signature chips and salsa and chocolate chip cookies that are seemingly ubiquitous across every location. 

The most common ways to gain access will be via your business class ticket or a premium Aeroplan co-branded credit card. You’ll also be rewarded with complimentary access if you travel frequently enough to earn Aeroplan 35K status or higher.

Currently, only the domestic Maple Leaf Lounge locations in Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary are open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once the lounge network opens up again, I look forward to eventually visiting all the locations someday – by my count, only Saskatoon, Regina, Ottawa, New York LaGuardia, and Paris are left for me!

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26 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Jacqui

    Question on the Signature Suite & Lounge – are you sure that the Business Class Flexible reward ticket is allowed in the lounge? The code on my ticket (flex reward business) is not listed on the codes that are acceptable on the Air Canada website (I). I might be blind but I can’t see that ticket listed as acceptable on the AC website?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Yes, I’m sure. The AC website hasn’t been updated yet because all the Signature Suites are closed, but once they reopen, it’ll be updated with the appropriate language to include Business Flexible awards.

      1. Avatar
        Jacqui

        THANK YOU, Ricky. I appreciate the clarification on the A/C website.

  2. Avatar
    Randy Preising

    For those of us that don’t fly often—even before COVID, it seems the red ropes are increasing. My TD Infinite used to include a complimentary, yearly MML access. I see now that’s gone.

    Since YYZ T1 put in those ridiculous video kiosks in the waiting area, the MLL is looking better and better. I have 300k of Aeroplan points, but it seems my only option is to book Rouge Premium (I don’t think it’s THAT bad) or switch to the Amex Aeroplan Reserve Card.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Yeah, they’ve changed it so that the core Visa Infinite cards no longer have that one-time lounge access benefit on Aeroplan tickets. You’d need the VIP card now for unlimited lounge access.

  3. Avatar
    Todd

    Is over-crowding a concern now that AC has added the premium cards to the list of eligible travellers that can access the lounges?

    1. Avatar
      Jay*

      I would not be surprised once things are back to normal.

  4. Avatar
    Florian

    If you redeem Aeroplan points for an economy Latitude reward and use eUpgrade credits to upgrade to business class, do you end up with a lowest or a flexible business class reward? If you end up with a flexible fare, would you get access to the signature suite? Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      Florian

      Let me answer my own question:

      All bookings in R (including, but not limited to, eUpgrades, Last-Minute Upgrades, AC Bid Upgrades) 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.

      https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home/fly/premium-services/signature-suite.html#/asterix

      So no, unfortunately!

  5. Avatar
    Max

    I can’t see anyone in the churning community ever seeing the Signature suite, its a mute point. No one will pay cash for a business ticket nor is anyone crazy or dumb with their points to ever book a Business Flex which makes 0 sense.. unfortunately its a pipe dream for many, including Ricky I would imagine as well.

    1. Avatar
      Jay*

      For individuals that are swimming in AP, I imagine they would splurge at least once for the experience. 😊

    2. Ricky
      Ricky

      In the future, Business Flex is actually a pretty sweet deal at 10–15k extra points compared to Business Lowest when it’ll offer free changes and cancellations. The Signature Suite is a nice bonus on top of that.

  6. Avatar
    Richard

    Lounges can be used as both departure and arrival lounges.
    A description of when you can use a ML lounge as an arrival lounge would be a nice touch.
    I like the AC ML lounge for newspapers (The Gazette in Montreal and the Globe & Mail elsewhere) and the HagenDaz ice cream bars in the summer but the Priority Pass Lounges for hot food. You’ve written before on Lounge hopping.

    1. Avatar
      CT

      Just so you know, most MLL no longer have the newspapers. They now encourage you to download the PressReader app and read the newspapers online.

  7. Avatar
    Joanne Ler

    As a relatively frequent user of the domestic Maple Leaf lounges over the years, I have to say that the quality of the food keeps declining. The hot meals of which you speak are seldom available and when they are, they don’t last long. You cannot even get a sandwich any more (although I have learned to first stop at the café to quickly grab a sandwich and then head upstairs to the main lounge for a drink, but you can only do this in Toronto). The ubiquitous kale salad (ugh!), soups that rarely change (I’m looking at you, Thai curry!), bad pizza, and tortilla chips are the standard fare these days, with little else to tempt the palate. The only real benefits are the complementary alcoholic beverages.

    As an aside, I have always been curious as to why the Calgary lounge has a bartender but all the other lounges are self-serve?

  8. Avatar
    Tim Clark

    I just tried the Air Canada Cafe a couple weeks ago – overall it is quite nice and one huge benefit is the takeaway food selection is LARGE. I stocked up with a sandwich, chia pudding and cheese and fruit cup for my flight. I don’t always like the plane food and/or get very hungry on flights sometimes so this made a huge difference for me. I can’t recommend it enough.

    Also there is a large bar with a server to make drinks, and the design is very calm and slick, really nice vibe.

    1. Avatar
      CT

      I always go to the bar and ask for a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Lindt chocolate is always nice too, but you have to ask the bartender for it.

  9. Avatar
    Mitchell

    Anytime there is shade to be thrown at Rouge, i’ll be happy.

  10. Avatar
    Mike

    I like this! OMAAT does "how to access" lounge posts, then PoT makes it for Canadians lol

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      Lucky is an inspiration to us all 🙂

  11. Avatar
    AG

    Will the TD and CIBC Aeroplan cards get you into the Air Canada Cafe an an economy flight booked with aeroplan?

    1. Avatar
      Al

      Yes, but only if you earned your plane ticket using your aeroplan reward miles

    2. Avatar
      Ricky

      Good question. My guess is no, since the benefit states "Maple Leaf Lounge" pretty explicitly, and the Air Canada Cafe page states that access is "exclusively" for the set of passengers described in the article. They’ll probably just ask you to go to the Maple Leaf Lounge instead.

  12. Avatar
    Ced

    Doesn’t the aeroplanplus platinum from AMEX get priority pass aswell?

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      You’re correct, this was my oversight. I suppose the point is that the Amex MR cards already get you comparable lounge access via Priority Pass, but with a much higher points-earning potential, for the same annual fee. I’ll update the article to clarify this.

      1. Avatar
        Eric

        Couple a’ things:

        First the Paris MLL is really nice so worth the stop. Partly because it seemed less crowded than the Canadian ones I had been to. The free pour cognac was a nice touch and my impression of the liquors and bubbly was that they exceed the standard from other lounges I have visited.

        Secondly The Aeroplan Amex platinum card gives you priority pass but it’s not like the Amex platinum. I was told (IIRC it was the amex chat person) that you are still charged a fee for discounted entry fee to Priority pass liunges when holding this card rather like some of lower end cards. For this reason I didn’t set up the PP on my Amex AP card since I already hold both of the Amex platinum cards. I also didn’t investigate further so it may be that I misunderstood.

        Still that card works for me as I fly occasionally for work. It’s usually domestic and always economy. There is an MLL but no PP at my nearest airport.

Ricky

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