Review: Air Canada Domestic Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver Airport

Filed Under: Air Canada

My flight from Vancouver to Toronto was scheduled to depart at 11:30AM, so I arrived at the airport at around 9:30AM. That’s a bit early for a domestic flight, but I still had to work to get done and my flight wouldn’t have wifi, so I figured I might as well finish working from the lounge.

I was dropped off by the hotel shuttle at Air Canada’s domestic terminal, which had a bright and airy check-in hall.

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Vancouver Airport domestic terminal check-in

I walked all the way towards the left, where Air Canada’s premium check-in was located. My check-in was processed pretty quickly, though the agent could only issue my boarding passes as far as London (and not my connections from London to Johannesburg to Cape Town).

I couldn’t help but notice how friendly all the check-in agents were. Not just mine, but also those to the left and right of me, based on what I overheard. I guess it’s reflective of Canadians in general, but I’ve found them to be such friendly people overall.

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Air Canada business class check-in Vancouver Airport

I proceeded towards the security checkpoint for the “C” gates. The queue was only very short, but on top of that there was a premium line, so I was through in less than five minutes.

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Vancouver Airport domestic security

Vancouver Airport is quite cool past security, down to the carpet, which reminds me a bit of Portland Airport.

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Vancouver Airport domestic terminal

Once through the checkpoint I took the escalator down a level, and then the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge was located on the right.

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Vancouver Airport domestic terminal

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Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge exterior Vancouver Airport

At the entrance I presented my boarding pass, and was promptly welcomed and directed towards the elevator to the upper level, where the lounge is located.

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Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge reception Vancouver Airport

The lounge was fairly crowded, though not uncomfortably so. Upon entering the lounge I walked right to the area with comfortable leather lounging chairs.

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Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge seating Vancouver Airport

This was separated into two areas thanks to the use of a partition, which made the lounge feel a bit more private.

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Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge seating Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge seating Vancouver Airport

Past that was the dining area, which featured a bunch of tables, including a counter overlooking the tarmac with high-top chairs.

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Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge dining area Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge dining area Vancouver Airport

Then in the back of the lounge was a business center, along with more leather seats.

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Air Canada Lounge seating Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge business center Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge seating Vancouver Airport

The lounge had a pretty cool phone charging system, which Air Canada seems to have at most of their lounges.

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Air Canada Lounge charging station Vancouver Airport

I loved the floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the lounge, which meant there were great views of the tarmac, and even the runway in the distance.

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Air Canada Lounge view Vancouver Airport

I ended up settling down in the far corner of the lounge, and quickly connected to the wifi, which was quite fast.

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Air Canada Lounge seating Vancouver Airport

The food spread was located in the center of the lounge, across from the dining area.

There was an “island” with food, and then along the wall were fridges with drinks, and even more snacks.

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Air Canada Lounge buffet area Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge buffet area Vancouver Airport

There were beer taps, though they’re only available starting at 11AM.

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Air Canada Lounge beer Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge beer after 11AM Vancouver Airport

The coolers had soft drinks and wine.

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Air Canada Lounge drinks Vancouver Airport

There was also a juice dispenser.

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Air Canada Lounge juice Vancouver Airport

In terms of food, there were several types of cereal, fresh fruit, hardboiled eggs, croissants, pastries, yogurt, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns, etc.

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Air Canada Lounge cereal Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge yogurt Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge breakfast spread Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge breakfast spread Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge toast Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge oatmeal Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge breakfast spread Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge breakfast spread Vancouver Airport

Closer to the window was the coffee & tea setup, which was extensive.

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Air Canada Lounge coffee & tea selection Vancouver Airport

There was a pretty standard espresso machine.

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Air Canada Lounge espresso machine Vancouver Airport

Then there were two kinds of coffee machines (the one on the right made really good coffee).

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Air Canada Lounge coffee machine Vancouver Airport

There was a selection of tea.

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Air Canada Lounge tea selection Vancouver Airport

There was also a Vivreau water dispenser, which had both still and sparkling water.

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Air Canada Lounge water machine Vancouver Airport

Lunch was brought out at 11AM, and was quite impressive as well. There were two types of tasty salads, olives, pickles, two types of soup, sandwiches, and a variety of really tasty cookies.

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Air Canada Lounge lunch spread Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge lunch spread Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge lunch spread Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge lunch spread Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge lunch spread Vancouver Airport

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Air Canada Lounge cookies Vancouver Airport

Overall I thought the food spread was exceptional, especially given that this is expressly a domestic lounge (there are separate lounges for international and transborder passengers). US carriers could learn a thing or two from Air Canada.

Unfortunately my stay in the lounge wasn’t uneventful. At around 10AM I was paged in the lounge, which is rarely good news. As it turned out, this was because South African Airways canceled my flight from London to Johannesburg.


Air Canada has “concierges” stationed at all their major airports, who help business class passengers and top tier elites in the event things go wrong, so I got to experience the benefit of this firsthand. It’s actually sort of amazing they caught the cancellation before I did, because I hadn’t realized anything was wrong with that flight.

I won’t recap what happened too much, since I wrote a separate post about how I handled my flight being canceled, so check that out for more information. I ended up rerouting to connect in Frankfurt rather than London, which worked out great — I’d fly the same flight from Vancouver to Toronto, I’d fly an Air Canada 787  from Toronto to Frankfurt rather than an Air Canada 777 from Toronto to London, and I’d fly an SAA A340 from Frankfurt to Johannesburg rather than an SAA A340 from London to Johannesburg.

Suffice to say that I was really impressed by the proactive way in which Air Canada handled the situation.

The other issue was that my Vancouver to Toronto flight was delayed due to a mechanical. So while it was originally scheduled to depart at 11:30AM, it was first announced that it was delayed until 12PM, and then that it was delayed until 12:30PM.

I headed to the departure gate, C49, at around 12PM. This was just as the plane was being towed to the gate from the maintenance hangar, so within a few minutes the crew boarded. Finally at 12:15PM boarding was called, starting with business class via the priority lane.

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Departure gate to Toronto

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Departure gate to Toronto

Air Canada Lounge Vancouver bottom line

While it wasn’t the most modern lounge in the world, overall I was very impressed. The food and drink selection was fantastic for a domestic lounge. But perhaps what I was most impressed by was the Air Canada concierge, Sanja, who was so proactive and saved the day. If she hadn’t caught the cancellation when she did, I would have probably incurred a significant delay in getting to South Africa. A concierge like Sanja at any lounge could really influence my rankings of the best airline lounges in the world!

  1. Pretty impressive for a North American domestic lounge. I wish American would take a hint and add some finger sandwiches or real salads to the Admirals Clubs. I dream…

  2. Nicer than the Transborder lounge at YVR.

    But that’s “fairly crowded”? Looked like empty seats all over the place, no one sitting on the floor. You should check out a domestic UC sometime! 😉

  3. There is no denying Air Canada has the best lounges in North America compared to that of other North American carriers.

  4. “I walked all the way towards the left, where Air Canada’s premium check-in was located.”

    I believe the premium check in area is at the right far end of the domestic terminal.

  5. Good to hear you enjoyed YVR and the Maple Leaf lounge. It is quite silly that alcoholic beverages aren’t available before 11am. It is very civilised to enjoy a pint of Guinness while watching the action on the apron!

    Although I fly exclusively on OW carriers these days due to my London base and mainly eastbound travels, I still look forward to flying AC whenever the opportunity presents itself. It is still the only airline where I can get a real glass of caesar cocktail (Clamato is an acquired taste 🙂 My peak AC years were 2008-2012. The domestic J product is far superior to any intra-Europe product I have experienced since moving to this side of the pond. The international J product is pretty competitive, and preferable over same class from BA/LH (but not LX). The international Y product used to be quite tolerable (did a YYZ-HKG in the back of the 77L when it was only 9-across and my employment contract less generous), but I shall steer clear of the high-density Y configurations in the 777 and 787 fleet. Overall, I have found AC to be a solid performer. Many Canadians like to badmouth AC, but like most complaints in Canada, that’s probably because they have no idea how good they have it, when compared to the rest of the world.

  6. I was in this loung back in February arround noon. It was fairly crowded but ok, the beer selection has to be the best thing in the lounge. I managed to get an earlier flight to Toronto and fly the 787 for the first time, so that was nice.

  7. I’ve been to the Maple Leaf Lounge in the trans boarder terminal and it was top notch

  8. @Lucky “though the agent could only issue my boarding passes as far as Frankfurt (and not my connections from Frankfurt to Johannesburg to Cape Town).”
    Weren’t you still heading to London at this point?

  9. @ Matt — Not being anal at all, appreciate the correction, as I don’t catch these on my own sometimes. 🙂

  10. I’ve been to that Maple Leaf lounge at YVR and indeed it is nice. Not sure if that one has showers (I was also there mid-day and already clean!) but the international Maple Leaf lounge in Toronto has and they’re good, especially before an overnight flight. AC’s lounges make the Admiral’s Club or Red Carpet Club look pathetic with their shortbread cookies wrapped in plastic.

  11. Oh the many, many hours I have spent in that lounge 🙂

    As I’ve said before – anyone who complains about Air Canada must simply have never flown on a US carrier.

    On the “no alcohol before 11am” thing – that’s a general rule in keeping with liquor licensing rules and is that case in most Canadian provinces. That said, it’s worth remembering that the legal drinking age is either 18 or 19 – as opposed to 21 in the US, so that’s a plus for younger travellers out there 😉

  12. is this pass accessible with a day pass option? if so, do you know how much a day pass costs?


  13. I love Canadien. It is such a twisted way to speak French with a mix of the Louis XIV-era vocabulary and English idiomatic constructions.

    “Bière disponibl à compter de 11h” should be “Bière disponible à partir de 11h”.

    Vive la Québec!

  14. Gary says:
    May 31, 2016 at 2:01 am

    Vive la Québec!

    -It’s “Vive LE Québec.” MDR :=)

    “Bière disponibl à compter de 11h” should be “Bière disponible à partir de 11h”.

    -Not true. “À compter” is a correct synomym for “à partir”. Voir

    You did, however, catch the typo in the sign. It’s “disponible” (the final “e” is missing in the sign).

    if you wish to make snarky comments about the French spoken and written in Canada, you should at least be correct. It might enhance your credibility.


  15. I recently visited the transborder AC lounge at YVR and it looks like they have the same spread as they do in the domestic lounge. It also looked identical to the spread they had at the YUL international lounge as well. My only complaint is that in the afternoon, once they run out of sandwiches, they do not seem to replace them (at least in Montreal), which seemed odd as there were quite a few flights leaving at the time I was there. Overall, a nicer feel than a US carrier’s lounge. But on the same trip, I visited UA’s lounge at SFO and they seem to be adding nicer food, with salad on offer these days. So US carriers are improving, slowly.

  16. Hi Lucky,
    Back in the day, when there was Canadian/CP Air and AC, that was the CP lounge. So it is a pretty good domestic lounge, because AC “inherited” it from CP. But I don’t think it’s indicative of the overall quality of domestic lounges AC has across the country. Funnily enough, the international lounge at YVR isn’t better. It’s a tad smaller with not as many diverse options for sitting, working, etc., as the domestic. Montreal might be a better example where the international lounge is spacious and newly renovated and inviting whereas the domestic is a little like a dentist’s waiting room.

  17. Yes, the 11:00AM liquor service is a provincial government rule, no liquor service anywhere at YVR before 11:00. Unlike Alberta, there is a travelers liquor license bars and restaurants can apply for and most at YEG (can’t specially speak towards YYC) have the license. If you want a Hoegarden at 7:00AM, there is a really good Belgian style Cafe, otherwise they all serve liquor as soon as they open for service. However, I believe the MLL does not and it’s either they have chosen the social responsibility route and roll out the liquor at 11:00; they want to save money; or, can’t get that license. Not sure. I don’t get why airports say at Vancouver and Toronto don’t follow Alberta’s lead – they are leaving a pile of liquor tax money behind from people that arn’t going anywhere except on a plane. Need to get with the times…

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