Review: British Airways Lounge Toronto Airport

Filed Under: Airport Lounge Reviews, British Airways

My trip started off with a flight in British Airways’ A350-1000 Club Suites business class from Toronto to London Heathrow. I flew up from Miami the same day, though planned a long layover just in case there were any delays.

First I spent some time in the Air France-KLM Lounge and the Plaza Premium Lounge, both if which I recently reviewed prior to my Air France A350-900 flight from Toronto to Paris. This time around I checked out British Airways’ lounge, which is an interesting setup.

British Airways Lounge YYZ Review

British Airways used to operate their own lounge at Toronto Pearson Airport, though that’s no longer the case. However, they do still have a private lounge, it’s just operated by Plaza Premium.

The lounge is located inside the main Plaza Premium Lounge in the international concourse of YYZ Terminal 3.

I was way early, so as I headed to the lounge I checked out the British Airways departure gate, which was C33.

British Airways departure gate Toronto Airport

I also saw the British Airways A350-1000 arrive from Heathrow before 3PM. What a beauty!

British Airways A350-1000 arriving in Toronto

That’s a convenient gate assignment, given that the elevator that takes you to the lounges is located right across from the gate.

Elevators to British Airways Lounge Toronto

The private lounge for British Airways passengers is located inside the Plaza Premium Lounge. The check-in agent verified my boarding pass, and then pointed me right towards the British Airways section of the lounge.

When I visited the British Airways Lounge opened at 3:30PM, just under three hours ahead of my 6:20PM flight.

Plaza Premium Lounge Toronto exterior

While the main Plaza Premium Lounge is to the left, the British Airways Lounge is to the right.

Entrance to British Airways Lounge Toronto

Not only does British Airways have a lounge within a lounge, but there are two sections to the British Airways Lounge. The way it’s labeled, one side of the lounge is for business class passengers, while the other side of the lounge is for first class passengers and Gold Card Holders.

British Airways Lounge First & Business sections

The catch is that at the moment British Airways isn’t actually offering any first class service to Toronto. They fly an A350-1000 and 787-8 to Toronto, neither of which have first class.

Therefore I would assume that:

  • The left side is for business class and oneworld Sapphire members
  • The right side is for first class passengers and oneworld Emerald members

I checked out both sides of the lounge, so let’s take a look at the difference between the two sides.

British Airways Business Lounge Toronto

The business class portion of the lounge is to the left, and is on the small side given the number of passengers who have access. Just inside the entrance and to the left are about half a dozen dining tables, each seating up to two people.

British Airways Business Lounge Toronto seating

Further into the lounge is a communal table with 14 stools.


British Airways Business Lounge Toronto seating


British Airways Business Lounge Toronto seating

Then in the center part of the lounge are rows of seats facing one another.


British Airways Business Lounge Toronto seating


British Airways Business Lounge Toronto seating


British Airways Business Lounge Toronto seating

In the back of the lounge are two more rows of seats — one row has cool seats with side tables, and then there’s another row of seats right by the windows.


British Airways Business Lounge Toronto seating


British Airways Business Lounge Toronto seating

The lounge has fantastic views of the apron, taxiway, and runway in the distance. There was a WestJet 767 immediately below the lounge, and I could see the British Airways A350 off to the side.


British Airways Lounge Toronto view

The lounge also has a bar. Interestingly this is a horseshoe-shaped bar, and the other side of the bar is the main Plaza Premium Lounge. So I guess that’s an efficient way they can staff the lounge. As you can see, the lounge has a proper espresso machine — yay.


British Airways Business Lounge Toronto bar

As far as the food spread in the lounge goes, it certainly doesn’t compete with British Airways’ pre-flight dining facility at JFK. There was a small buffet with a few hot and cold options.


British Airways Lounge Toronto buffet

Cold options included a tomato & mozzarella salad, a garden salad, a cheese platter, and some canapés.


British Airways Lounge Toronto buffet

Hot options included roast beef with gravy, cauliflower gratin, garlic mashed potatoes, vanilla bread pudding, vegetable samosas, and pizza.


British Airways Lounge Toronto buffet


British Airways Lounge Toronto buffet

Then there was a separate setup with flavored water and some snack mix, cookies, etc.


British Airways Lounge Toronto snacks & drinks

Lastly, there was a self serve fridge with soda, juice, fresh fruit, and some small desserts.


British Airways Lounge Toronto snacks & drinks

The food selection is by no means impressive, and very much feels like what you’d expect in a random contract lounge.

British Airways First Lounge Toronto

I spent most of my time in the lounge in the first class section. This was about the same size, though unsurprisingly was much less crowded. Along the center section of the lounge were rows of two seats, each of which had a useful side table.


British Airways First Lounge Toronto seating


British Airways First Lounge Toronto seating

Then near the windows was just under a dozen dining tables.


British Airways First Lounge Toronto seating


British Airways First Lounge Toronto dining area

The first class section of the lounge features a la carte dining, so the buffet as such was incredibly limited — there were just a few canapés and dessert options.


British Airways First Lounge Toronto buffet


British Airways First Lounge Toronto buffet


British Airways First Lounge Toronto buffet

Then there was also some snack mix and packaged chips.


British Airways First Lounge Toronto buffet

Much like the business class section of the lounge, the views here are excellent.


British Airways Lounge Toronto view

The menu in the first class lounge read as follows, with two starters, three main courses, and one dessert:

I had a seat at one of the tables, and a server showed up within minutes. I ordered a glass of champagne, and then ordered a starter and main.

For the starter I ordered what was rather creatively described as a “vegan carpaccio,” though in reality was more of a salad. This included marinated butternut squash, pickled mushrooms, mesclun salad, roasted pumpkin seeds, and pea puree.

British Airways Lounge Toronto pre-flight dining

The salad wasn’t great at all, to be honest. It’s pretty clear the Plaza Premium Lounge doesn’t have a proper kitchen setup, so it’s pretty clear everything being served isn’t especially freshly prepared. The salad, including the butternut squash, was just bland and tasteless.

I could picture Gordon Ramsay on “Kitchen Nightmares” eating it, rubbing his forehead, and saying “bland, bland, bland.”

For the main course I ordered the summers herbs crusted cod, served with potato gratin, zucchini pasta, blistered grape tomatoes, and beurre blanc. This was a bit better by comparison. The cod and potato gratin were surprisingly good, while the zucchini pasta tasted like nothing.


British Airways Lounge Toronto pre-flight dining

My flight from Toronto to London was scheduled to depart at 6:20PM, so at around 5PM I headed down to the departure gate, to be sure I could be among the first to board (to get cabin pictures).

When I left the lounge there were only a total of about five other people in the first class section of the lounge, while the business class section was extremely crowded.

British Airways Lounge Toronto Bottom Line

As far as contract lounge setups go, British Airways’ lounge in Toronto is fairly decent. They have separate first and business class sections — both sides are decorated nicely and have great views.

The business class section has a rather limited food selection, while the first class section has a la carte dining, though it is mediocre.

While this can’t compete with the pre-flight dining British Airways offers to all business class passengers in New York, this ultimately isn’t a terrible setup for an outstation.

If you’ve visited British Airways’ Toronto lounge, what was your experience like?

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Comments
  1. The food in the BA J lounge is exactly what I want to have before a flight. Simple, easy to eat finger foods. If I don’t want to eat on the plane, I can eat enough to keep me from getting hungry. If I want to eat on the plane, I can eat less to stave off my hunger. The trend toward more full meal style options in lounges has often come at the expense of finger foods. Even though I’d be entitled to use the F lounge at YYZ, I’d probably eat in the J lounge.

  2. @Ben, thanks for the review – very different set up from when I used their lounge at YYZ 4 years ago. The dining area for first looks to be much more substantial with the Plaza Premium affiliation. Just out of curiosity do you recall what types of champagne / spirits were on offer? I assume they would have something top shelf given the dedicated first class set up?

  3. That business lounge looks incredible for the reason it is probably one of the only places in North America where you can get a Yorkshire Pudding. Easily one of Britain’s greatest inventions.

    They are those bread looking circular things surrounding the roast beef in the picture of the buffet hot options.

  4. The F lounge menu has been the same since September. To still be serving gazpacho in December in the Northern hemisphere is a major fail in my book. The duck dish was good though.

  5. Some of us Brits prefer to have our Yorkies as an actual pudding with a dollop of jam or spoonful of Lyle’s Golden Syrup warmed up with the oven turned off whilst you eat the main course.

  6. That’s actually a pretty impressive outstation given BA runs only one daily flight from Toronto if I’m not wrong?

    Makes a lot of sense for them to contract it out.

  7. the butternut squash looked good..Never found the lounge there as i had the SSSS on my boarding pass and that took up my time!!

  8. Indeed, I’d say any lounge that offers roast beef and Yorkshire pudding is a class above most so it’s hard to see how you ignore such an asset! Other than the BrewDog pub in the JFK lounge, this looks a cut above the food offerings I’ve found there and even in the T5 Galleries business lounge. (And what’s with BA catering and curry over in England?)

  9. @Kerry – 2 flights a day

    @Dot – that’s strange because the extra SSSS search takes place at the gate (though I didn’t know Canada did SSSS or if it did it had it for flights leaving for the U.K. it’s usually a USA thing in flights to the US)

  10. I agree with DavidB ….. roast beef and yorkshire pudding …. served in the J section of an outstation lounge …. with only one daily flight. Amazing.

    I’m a GGL CCR, but I’d still be camping in the J section.

    p.s. the J section food offering looks pretty similar than that offered in the LHR T5 First (OWE) lounge. Which of course isn’t stellar (for a OWE lounge), but shows how far the J section of this lounge punches above it’s weight.

  11. JFK, YYZ, IAH, ORD… BA’s lounge planning in North America really seems to have no rhyme or reason to it. It’s all over the board.

  12. Sad when a business class lounge – not operated by the airline itself – makes one of the airline’s first class lounges (ORD) look so disappointing, at best.

  13. “Isn’t a terrible setup”?! That sounds a bit harsh to me, given the pics and the rest of the review. I know that you don’t like BA, Ben, but still…this looks really quite impressive for an outstation with two daily flights.

  14. Have to agree with others, Roast berg with Yorkshire’s ticks a few of my boxes and wish other out stations offered the same.

  15. @ Chris — “Isn’t a terrible setup” is intended as a compliment, I promise. 😉

    And I think I have been positive towards BA overall lately…

  16. BA needs to put on a decent spread if they want to compete with AC’s Signature Suite, especially since AC has the advantage of a near-monopoly on Canadian corporate travel.

    I’m also curious what the shower situation is now. The last time I used the international pier at T3 was back when 9W flew to AMS. There was a decent shower room in the Plaza Premium lounge at that point.

  17. Huge downgrade on what used to be a BA operated lounge a few years ago with excellent freshly cooked food and a self service bar where I could make myself a pre-flight Negroni!

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