The Maple Leaf Lounge network is Air Canada’s premier airport lounge product in Canada and abroad, with over 20 Maple Leaf Lounges in operation worldwide. Toronto Pearson International Airport is home to three of those, with one each serving the domestic, transborder (i.e., flights to the US), and international gates. Access is granted to passengers travelling in Star Alliance business or first class, Star Alliance Gold members, and holders of lounge passes and select credit cards.
After getting off work and hopping on the UP Express train, I breezed through Business Class check-in and arrived at the international Maple Leaf Lounge at about 4:30pm. With our flight to Brussels commencing boarding at 5, I only had a short stay in the lounge.
Side note: Jessica had actually arrived many hours earlier and I had asked her to take some pictures, though hilariously she only managed to snap a handful of shots, saying the lounge was “too crowded”.
She wasn’t wrong – the lounge was indeed packed, with several of Air Canada’s overnight flights to Europe departing around that time. As a result, I didn’t feel too comfortable getting up in people’s faces for pictures. I still managed to get quite a few shots, though not as many as I’d like.
There was a cool model of an Air Canada 787 near the entrance of the lounge, though I was slightly surprised it hadn’t been updated with the airline’s new livery just yet.
As you enter the lounge, you go through a small walkway before arriving at the central dining area. The main seating areas of the lounge are located on a split level behind the food stations, and there’s two paths you can take to get around the dining area and into the main seating area.
There’s plenty of “dining table” seating near the food stations.
As you take the left-side path to go up the split-level (which is, impressively, fully accessible thanks to the presence of a ramp in addition to steps), the seating becomes more reminiscent of the traditional “leather seats with side tables” arrangement.
There was also high-top seating near a self-serve bar area in the back of the lounge.
The lounge had shower facilities, which were located along the path to the right of the dining area. To use the showers, get the help of a lounge attendant.
Other amenities available in the lounge included a business centre with computer workstations (located opposite the showers) and a kids’ play room (located closer to the entrance of the lounge). Both facilities were fully in use when I checked them out, so I wasn’t too comfortable taking lots of pictures.
Now onto the food spread. The last couple of lounges I visited was disappointing in this regard, so I hoped this lounge would be an improvement, and that there would at least be some hot food to enjoy.
The main offering for the night was a chicken curry dish along with mac & cheese.
Of course, Air Canada’s signature spread of tortilla chips, salsa, and hummus was out in full force, as were the delectable chocolate chip cookies (frequent Maple Leaf Lounge visitors will know that these are everywhere). There was also the usual selection of coffee, tea, juice, and pop.
The self-serve liquor selection was located towards the back of the lounge, in front of the high-top seats.
Overall, I thought the food spread was alright – palatable though by no means spectacular. I do recall that on previous visits to this lounge there had been a “make your own pho” (Vietnamese noodles) station set up. While I don’t recall the pho being particularly tasty, it was at least a welcome departure from the more typical stuff you’d see in a lounge.
The mere presence of hot food puts this lounge above many other Maple Leaf Lounges in the network (I’m looking at you, transborder “lounges”), and indeed many airport lounges in North America. Frankly, however, that should be the baseline expectation for the flagship international business class lounge of an airline of Air Canada’s stature.
Jessica and I nibbled on some chips and salsa before heading for the gate at 4:50. We were off to Europe on the first part of our round-the-world journey, and the excitement was already kicking in – especially for the first part of the journey in Brussels Airlines business class!
The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at Toronto Pearson’s international gates gets a lot of things right. The lounge is nicely decorated with Air Canada’s signature wood panelling accents. The lounge is spacious and it uses that space well, leveraging a split-level design to create a more intimate setting in many parts of the lounge. The food and drinks available in the lounge are up to standard and the amenities are plentiful.
Having said that, the lounge can still get jam-packed during peak departure hours in the afternoon and evening, though given space constraints that’s something many lounges and lounge patrons have to live with. That would be my only minor complaint – on the whole, the Maple Leaf Lounge remains an excellent choice for relaxing before your international flight at YYZ. Besides the newly renovated Maple Leaf Lounge in Montreal (of which I’ve heard rave reviews), I can’t think of many better airport lounges in Canada.