Earlier this year, Air Canada revealed plans to open a number of new lounges and to renovate some of its existing Maple Leaf Lounges. As part of the rollout, a new Maple Leaf Lounge was scheduled to open in San Francisco in June 2023.
That time has come, and the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge San Francisco is now open to guests.
I had a chance to attend the opening of the lounge, and I’d like to share my initial impressions before doing a full-scale organic review at some point in the near future.
The New Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge San Francisco
Air Canada has opened a new Maple Leaf Lounge in San Francisco International Airport (SFO). It becomes Air Canada’s 28th lounge globally, its third lounge in the United States, and the second new lounge that the airline has opened this year.
The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge San Francisco is located in Terminal 2, and offers passengers a number of premium features and amenities.
The latest addition to Air Canada’s lounge network spans 761 square metres, and can accommodate up to 165 guests between its indoor and outdoor spaces. Seating is available for up to 130 guests indoors, and an additional 35 outside.
One of the most interesting components of the new lounge is a spacious outdoor terrace with tarmac and runway views, as well as two fireplaces. This is the first outdoor terrace available at an Air Canada lounge.
The lounge’s design and décor pay homage to California through artwork, and San Francisco is also reflected in the food and beverage offerings. Passengers can enjoy local seafood options at a self-serve hot and cold buffet, such as fish stew cioppino, alongside a selection of Californian and Canadian wines and local craft beer.
The lounge also offers a curated cocktail menu and an espresso bar.
Lastly, e-Gates and biometric identification are available to guests for hands-free entry, although passengers may also enter with a boarding pass.
How to Access the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge San Francisco
Access to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge San Francisco is possible through a number of means.
Any passenger with a valid same-day boarding pass for a business class flight with Air Canada or a Star Alliance partner can enjoy complimentary access to the lounge.
Cardholders of premium Aeroplan co-branded credit cards, such as the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card, the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card, the American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card, or the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card enjoy the lounge free-of-charge.
Lastly, passengers may use a Maple Leaf Lounge One-Time Guest Pass to access this lounge when travelling on an Air Canada flight.
Keep in mind that as of June 1, 2023, Aeroplan 35K members no longer have complimentary access to Maple Leaf Lounges. However, they can still access the lounges with a One-Time Guest Pass, a business class ticket, or an eligible premium Aeroplan co-branded credit card.
It’s worth noting that United passengers with elite status will be able to access this lounge on domestic itineraries, whereas they won’t have access to the United Club. This may contribute to overcrowding; however, Air Canada is aware of this, and it’s something the airline will be monitoring and evaluating on an ongoing basis.
Inside the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge San Francisco
Approaching the lounge, I passed under a streamlined white and grey entryway, with “Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge” classically embellished above.
At the entrance to the lounge, Air Canada has implemented e-Gates with digital identification to facilitate a quicker entry process to the lounges. Otherwise, you can simply scan a boarding pass using an electronic device, and the reception staff will then confirm whether you can enter.
Stepping inside, I encountered a set of smooth white reception desks fronting a wooden slatted backdrop, with a vivid red Air Canada logo. A modern light fixture adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to this brand new lounge, a symbol of Air Canada’s new direction with Maple Leaf Lounges.
The lounge layout is spacious and airy, following a zig-zag shape that divides the space into various zones.
I immediately noted the contemporary but cozy interiors with a mix of neutral tones varying from ivory to taupe shades. The black flooring adds a sense of elegance and contrast, while the wooden accents bring warmth and texture.
The seating areas are situated adjacent to floor-to-ceiling windows that offer stunning views of the tarmac, and allow an abundance of natural light to stream in.
You can opt for individual window-side seats, a row of paired leather armchairs, or bench-style seats with dining tables.
There’s no lack of USB ports and charging outlets either, making them easily accessible from most seating areas.
A striking San Francisco mural on the wall adds some local flair. A key element of this lounge design was its intention to pay tribute to San Francisco, and was incorporated into the furnishings, layout, and artwork.
Two VIP rooms are partitioned off from the rest of the lounge and divided from one another by a glass wall. These rooms feature a modern flat-screen TV and comfortable seating for up to seven guests.
You’ll also find some whimsical ottomans shaped like tree stumps.
Turning the corner is the dining area and bar. A cluster of six dining tables are positioned here, next to the self-serve buffet.
A hanging wine wall acts as a divider for the rest of the lounge. Tucked behind, at the periphery of the lounge are additional armchairs, individual seating, and rows of seating.
Accessible from the back of the lounge, the outdoor terrace is truly spectacular, and is absolutely the highlight of the space.
Standing out here gave me Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London vibes, with excellent runway and tarmac views.
There’s an ample amount of seating, which varies from sofas, to individual seats, to patio chairs. A second mural of the Golden Gate Bridge creates a striking focal point with its vibrant and colourful palette, juxtaposed against the backdrop of the control tower.
What’s more, the faux fireplaces are also a charming touch, though I would’ve loved a real fireplace. Nevertheless, the outdoor space is superbly elegant, with throw blankets adding a dash of sophistication.
I could see myself spending lots of time out here on a visit to this lounge, enjoying the fresh air, the views, and atmosphere. This outdoor space is a rare feature for an airport lounge, and it’d certainly be a nice way to kill time before a flight.
Dining & Bar
The dining area of the lounge is located to the right of the primary seating area. The counters are generously stocked with a varied selection of hot and cold items.
The food and drink offerings here are certainly elevated compared to the current standard of Maple Leaf Lounges, with tasty selections like seafood cioppino and chicken adobo.
- 1 of 3
- 2 of 3
- 3 of 3
There’s also a salad bar, mini-sandwiches, wraps, a selection of cookies and pastries, and a fruit-infused water station.
- 1 of 5
- 2 of 5
- 3 of 5
- 4 of 5
- 5 of 5
There are automatic water dispensers built directly into the counter, offering still, sparkling, and hot water.
You can also enjoy self-serve coffee from the Lavazza coffee maker.
All in all, the quality of the food at the new lounge is commendable, especially compared to the lacklustre food and drink options you encounter far too often. Let’s hope the quality remains this high over time, and sets a new standard for what we can expect in the future.
At the far end of the lounge is a striking and lengthy marble-clad bar, with a drinks menu to match. Here, you can find an impressive selection of complimentary and paid premium drinks.
You can choose from a standard menu with a selection of cocktails, wine, beer, and specialty coffees.
Signature drinks are inspired by San Francisco and the Asia-Pacific, including the Golden Gate and Sakura Bloom. Additionally, the sparkling wine is by Angels & Cowboys of nearby Sonoma County.
Positioned within the lounge are three private workspaces, adjacent to the seating area. These workspaces, each furnished with a desk, offer a secluded environment, as they’re concealed behind glass doors to ensure privacy.
In close proximity to the workspaces, you’ll find the restrooms and two shower rooms.
The restrooms boast a spacious layout with a sleek and dark aesthetic, adorned with marble finishes. Large mirrors fill the walls, including a full-body mirror at one end, and there’s plenty of space between the sinks.
The shower rooms also offer generous space and are equipped with their own vanity, toilet, and walk-in shower. Furthermore, these facilities are thoughtfully completed with heated towel racks and feature Molton Brown toiletries.
It’s been mentioned that the lounge is currently about 90% complete, with a few remaining features yet to be added. For instance, plans are underway to introduce heating systems for the outdoor terrace during the winter months, alongside other yet-to-be-disclosed additions.
Essentially, the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge San Francisco will serve as an experimental ground for testing new lounge concepts before their potential implementation in other lounges.
The interior décor of the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge San Francisco tastefully embodies the latest iteration of the airline’s premium designs. With the upcoming opening of new lounges, a new interior theme will be introduced, promising a fresh and captivating lounge for future visitors.
One area where the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge San Francisco truly shines is its food and drink offerings, which sets a new standard for Air Canada lounge experiences.
The offerings available here provide a glimpse into the direction Air Canada is heading, with its forthcoming renovations planned for major Canadian hubs such as Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.
Soon, passengers travelling through these destinations can expect full lounge refreshes, mirroring the elevated quality and variety of food and beverages showcased at the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge San Francisco.