To kick off my spontaneous round-the-world trip in early January, I had asked a friend of mine with Super Elite status to book me on Air Canada business class from Montreal to London Heathrow.
My goal was to book the most convenient and direct routing possible that would allow me to fulfill my reservation at the W Verbier in Switzerland on the afternoon of January 3. And since there was no business class award space available on Swiss’s Montreal–Zurich service on January 2, I knew that my next-best option would have to be on Air Canada through one of their European gateways.
If I had booked Air Canada business class with my own Aeroplan miles, I would’ve had to pay $500+ in fuel surcharges, so enlisting the help of a Super Elite friend was definitely the way to go here, securing me a very convenient itinerary of Montreal–London–Geneva.
I arrived at Montreal Trudeau International Airport a couple of hours early, and just like most of my other long-haul departures recently, I headed to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal to relax before my flight. And since I had my camera with me and some time to kill, I decided to give the lounge a proper review this time, especially since it’s definitely one of the best lounges across the Maple Leaf Lounge network (and one of the newest at that, having opened in 2016).
In the past, you could also access the Montreal international lounge if you were travelling domestically, but nowadays the airport’s international concourse is now officially cordoned-off from the domestic concourse, and you can only access the international gates with a valid boarding pass in hand.
Therefore, if you’re travelling domestically, you’re limited to accessing the older and less well-appointed domestic Maple Leaf Lounge over between Gates 1 and 3; meanwhile, if you’re travelling internationally, you can still access the domestic lounge, but you’d be much better off heading directly to the international Maple Leaf Lounge by Gate 52.
In addition to passengers flying on Star Alliance business class, the lounge is also available to Star Alliance Gold members and holders of select credit cards issued by TD, CIBC, and American Express. For more information on Maple Leaf Lounges and access rules in general, refer to this post.
Upon passing through the tinted sliding doors, a lounge representative will check your documents and welcome you upstairs.
Both the stairway and the elevator will drop you off near a quiet and dimly lit seating area, and you’d turn to your right to access the rest of the lounge.
This area near the entrance plays host to an Air Canada Dreamliner model aircraft, a newspaper stand, and a few more clusters of seating.
The central fixture that’s most likely to capture your attention, however, is the full-service bar at the heart of the lounge. A series of decorative ceramic tiles adorn the ceiling here, giving it a satisfying ambience as you perch up for a drink or a coffee.
On this visit, I was in the mood to have some dinner first, so I didn’t spend too much time at the bar. Instead, I headed further into the lounge in the direction of the dining area.
While most Maple Leaf Lounges offer a buffet spread as the dining concept, the Montreal location goes one step further with a live cooking station as well, featuring a rotating menu of hot dishes by Air Canada’s signature chefs.
Tonight’s featured item was a Brazilian moqueca fish stew by Chef Antonio Park, who operates two highly acclaimed restaurants in Montreal and is known for exploring haute cuisine through his mixed South American and Asian heritage.
You’d place your order with the chef at the station (who sadly was not Chef Park himself), and the chef would gather the ready-made ingredients into a pan and cook everything in front of you, preparing your dish in a matter of minutes.
In the meantime, you’re free to browse from the rest of the buffet, which tonight featured lemon and dill haddock, penne pasta, and an Asian selection of kung pao chicken, stir-fried vermicelli, and mixed green vegetables.
Lighter items included a quinoa salad, edamame, and the unmistakable tortilla chips that are known for being something of a Maple Leaf Lounge brand standard.
While premium spirits, beers, and cocktails could be ordered at the bar, the buffet also features a self-pour wine station, where I helped myself to a glass of pinot grigio to pair with my moqueca.
Similarly, barista-style specialty coffees would be available at the bar, but you could also help yourself to a cup of Lavazza from the machine if you were in a pinch.
Beyond the dining area, the rest of the lounge plays host to various different types of seating zones, including individual seats in groups of two or four, private booths, and communal couches.
I preferred to take up one of these private booths with dedicated side tables, which was a quiet spot from which to enjoy my dinner and wine, and then work on my laptop for the remainder of my time in the lounge.
There was also a set of recliners over by the lounge’s floor-to-ceiling windows, which would make for an excellent spot to watch the action on the tarmac outside during the daytime. The lounge’s nature-inspired decor is also quite evident here, with a series of plants thoughtfully spaced out throughout the seating area to separate each specific zone from each other.
The lounge is well-equipped in terms of connectivity, with a set of power and USB outlets located within reach no matter which seat you take up.
One downside to the lounge is that there aren’t too many options for those who’d prefer to concentrate on work. There’s one counter with high-top seating that offers a few computer workstations and a printer, but I’m not sure if this is the most comfortable configuration for working, and the lounge also doesn’t offer the same type of clustered cubicle-style seats that are found at Maple Leaf Lounges in other cities.
Although I didn’t get a chance to take a look inside, the Montreal international Maple Leaf Lounge does have a set of shower rooms for getting yourself freshened up prior to your long-haul flight.
And finally, at the very back of the space is a private lounge that’s reserved for exclusive guests.
It’s my understanding that, like similar private lounges in Toronto and Vancouver, this space is only opened sparingly for the use of Air Canada VIPs – an ultra-top-tier elite status that ranks above Super Elite 100K and is earned by invitation from the Air Canada CEO only. Perhaps one day I’ll get to scope it out! 😉
The Montreal international lounge is one of Air Canada’s best lounges across the network, boasting a live food station, a full-service alcoholic and espresso bar, and a variety of seating zones to relax prior to your departure. I’d say that it’s a more enjoyable experience than even the Toronto Maple Leaf Lounge thanks to the stronger food and beverage offering.
I suspect many of you will be passing through here when travelling on either Swiss or Turkish Airlines business class out of Montreal, if not on Air Canada itself (thanks to its sky-high fuel surcharges), and I’m sure you’ll appreciate the chance to try out one of Chef Park’s signature creations or kick back with a drink at the bar to prepare for your outbound flight.