It was about 4pm that Jayce dropped off Anshul, Norman, and myself back at Calgary Airport, giving us a good chunk of time before catching our respective flights. I would be the first to depart on the 6pm flight to Toronto, while Anshul and Norman had a couple more hours to wait before their late-night flights. We headed to the Maple Leaf Lounge to kill some time.
Calgary Airport has a stunning new international and transborder terminal, which almost feels a little out of place, since its soaring ceilings and glass facades are quite reminiscent of the ultra-modern airports you’d find in East Asia.
The domestic wing is still in need of a refresher, but the entrance to the Maple Leaf Lounge is quite eye-catching indeed. It was my understanding that the lounge was recently renovated, so I was going in with relatively high expectations (for a Maple Leaf Lounge, that is).
The front desk was staffed by two very friendly attendants, who quickly processed our boarding passes (Anshul was a fellow Star Alliance Gold member, while Norman turned out to be a lowly no-status peon and needed me to guest him in 😉). For what it's worth, the lounge is open to passengers flying in Star Alliance business class and Star Alliance Gold members.
There was a beautiful Air Canada 787 model airplane in the foyer, and it was nice to see that it reflected the airline’s new colours and livery (unlike the last time I visited a Maple Leaf Lounge).
Back when the new livery was first announced, I was initially a skeptic of the black font colour and trim, although it's grown on me since. I now find it much sharper than the damp-looking baby blue colour that Air Canada had previously used.
The lounge itself was about average size, and decorated very pleasantly. I find that Maple Leaf Lounges tend to be longer, more rectangular shaped than the standard “big square room” template that many lounges adopt. The decor tends to match the physical design as well, with full-length accents running along the wall to draw your attention to the long, spacious corridors.
The Calgary lounge was no exception, and a full-size painting greets you as you step into the foyer.
There was plenty of seating available, although on this particular afternoon the lounge was almost at capacity, and it took us quite a while before we found three seats that were relatively close to one another.
I thought the variety of seating options in the lounge was excellent. In addition to your run-of-the-mill upholstered chairs and high-top seats, there was also an area featuring a cluster of padded wooden chairs that was set up to resemble a fireplace. Quite a homely feeling!
The lounge had a well-equipped business centre, and there were even some actual cubicles for people to get some work done. I have to say the Office Depot cubicles looked a little out of place in an airport lounge. Surely they could’ve picked some nice wooden desks to match the overall vibe of the lounge more closely?
Since there wasn’t going to be a meal served on my economy class flight, I decided to eat some dinner in the lounge. The food spread was quite predictable – you can count on Air Canada having chicken noodle soup, a salad bar, chips and salsa, and those delightful cookies in pretty much all of their lounges.
The hot food – consisting of pasta, mixed vegetables, and chicken teriyaki – tasted alright. Nothing world-beating, but not half bad either – comfortably in the “standard lounge food” category.
Norman insisted that this lounge brings out a prime rib dish at 5:30pm, but that never materialized. (I even stayed well past my boarding time just to be sure.) Turns out, the prime rib is served in Calgary’s international Maple Leaf Lounge – it used to be served here as well, but was discontinued due to budget cuts.
I spent some time downloading some episodes of The Blacklist from my computer to my iPad for the upcoming flight. At about 5:40pm, I bade farewell to my companions, grabbed a Nestea for the ride, and headed to Gate C51 to board my flight.
I’ve been to a good handful of Maple Leaf Lounges around Canada, and on the whole I find they’re very serviceable, if a little unremarkable, providing a decently comfortable place to relax and grab a few quick bites prior to your flight. The one at Calgary’s domestic terminal is no exception, and altogether I’m very satisfied with my short stay in the lounge.