Review: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal Airport (YUL)

Review: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal Airport (YUL)

NAME: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge
Airport: YUL
DATE: January 2024
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal has lots of natural light, an extensive food and drink selection, and a layout with lots of seating options. This is a great place to spend pass time before your flight.
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During my downgraded adventure to Oman, I had the chance to spend a few hours in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal. This was during a layover, as I was arriving in Air Canada’s A220 business class from Miami, and connecting to SWISS’ A330 business class to Zurich. Specifically, I spent my time in the international Maple Leaf Lounge (not to be confused with the domestic lounge or the transborder lounge, since Canadian airports are kind of complicated in that regard).

Anyway, I was impressed by the Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal. The lounge has lots of natural light, and a great selection of food and drinks. However, it can get crowded during peak hours, and it’s also not quite to the level of the Air Canada Signature Suite facilities that you’ll find in Toronto and Vancouver (which is fair enough!). Let’s get into the review…

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal location

The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal is located in the international terminal, near gate 52. As I mentioned above, Montreal airport has several distinct areas, dedicated to domestic flights, transborder flights (to the United States), and international flights (all international destinations except the United States).

I was visiting the international Maple Leaf Lounge, which is generally considered to be the nicest at the airport. I also have to mention how seamless the transit experience was, arriving from the United States and connecting to Europe. There’s a dedicated channel for international to international connections, and that took all of a few minutes.

Once in the international terminal, just turn right, and then you’ll see the entrance to the Maple Leaf Lounge on the left.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal entrance

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal hours

The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal is open well ahead of all international departures from the airport. The lounge opens at either 5AM, 5:30AM, or 6AM, depending on the day of the week, and closes every night at 9PM.

As you might expect, the Maple Leaf Lounge will be busiest in the late afternoons and evenings, prior to all the flights to Europe, since that’s a majority of the premium international service from the airport.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal entry requirements

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges are pretty typical Star Alliances lounges when it comes to access requirements:

  • Star Alliance Gold members flying same day on a Star Alliance airline have access to the Maple Leaf Lounge, and can bring one guest
  • Air Canada business class passengers flying same day have access to the Maple Leaf Lounge, and can’t bring any guests
  • Passengers traveling on a Star Alliance partner airline, like Lufthansa or SWISS, also have access to the lounge; business class passengers can’t bring any guests, while first class passengers can bring one guest
  • Those with an Air Canada Maple Leaf Club membership, as well as United Club members, have access to the Maple Leaf Lounge

There are some other niche ways to get into Maple Leaf Lounges, so you can find Air Canada’s full lounge access page here.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating & layout

The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal is roughly 11,000 square feet, with seating for 259 passengers. So while it’s plenty big during the day, it’s probably not quite big enough in the evenings, prior to the transatlantic bank of flights (then again, it seems like all lounges are overcrowded during peak hours nowadays).

The Maple Leaf Lounge has an interesting design, in that it has a ton of natural light thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows, yet otherwise has very dark and cozy finishes, with wooden floors, and lots of dark furniture (which you might almost expect in a windowless facility). The lounge was renovated in 2016, and I’d say that feels about right. The design doesn’t feel cutting edge, but it also doesn’t feel outdated.

As you enter the lounge, you’ll first find a couple of seating areas with couches and chairs, which most people just seem to walk past, to get into the main part of the lounge.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating

Then the main part of the lounge consists primarily of one large, rectangular room, with two walkways going down the entire length of the lounge.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal walkway
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating

Along the windows, you have chairs arranged in rows facing one another. If you want to enjoy the views from the lounge, this is the place to sit.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating

Then along the center of the lounge, you’ll first find the bar area, where you can grab a cocktail, barista coffee, or glass of wine.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal bar

Then you’ll find the dining area, with a bunch of cafe-style tables, and even some booths, as this is near the buffet.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal dining area
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal dining area
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal dining area

Deeper into the lounge, you’ll find more seating options, including lots of chairs and couches.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating

If you’re looking for a bit more privacy, in the back of the lounge you’ll find half a dozen loungers where you can relax and gaze out at the apron.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal rest area

There are also six semi-private chairs, also facing one another.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating

As an aviation geek, I can’t emphasize enough how awesome the views from the lounge are, especially when a plane is parked at gate 52 (and especially when it’s in Air Canada’s lovely new livery!).

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal view

One other unrelated quirk — there were two Air Algerie A330s on the ground in Montreal during my visit. I thought the airline only had one flight a day. Am I mistaken, was there a maintenance issue, or…?

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal view

One thing to be aware of about the lounge is that the outlet situation isn’t ideal. There are outlets in the lounge, though this isn’t one of those lounges where every single seat has an outlet. Rather, you’ll have to look hard for outlets, especially when the lounge is busy (and I found some of the outlets weren’t even working).

Lastly, I have one sort of awkward interaction to share. I take a lot of pictures of lounges, though I think I do so carefully and without invading the privacy of others (as you can hopefully tell based on the above pictures). 😉

During the early part of my stay in the lounge, I noticed what appeared to be lounge managers sitting at tables with laptops and notepads, creating schedules for staff. One of the guys kept giving me weird looks as I took pictures.

Eventually he asked me, rather skeptically, “are you a passenger?” When I said I was, he didn’t say anything further. I found that a bit strange. Like, who else would I be… a flight attendant who just snuck into the lounge and started photographing it?

It’s also just not a very welcoming vibe. If you have issues with me taking pictures then tell me (though I wasn’t violating any Air Canada policies). And if you’re curious why I’m taking pictures, how about starting the conversation in a friendly way, like “are you enjoying your stay in the lounge?” or “first time visiting the lounge?”

Speaking of them, even beyond my own interaction, I didn’t find their presence in the lounge to be terribly professional. They were creating the schedules for employees for the coming weeks. It’s a bit odd to do that in public in front of customers, especially when you’re discussing how person X is very unreliable and can’t be counted on to show up on-time, etc.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food & drinks

The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food and drink selection exceeded my expectations, and was very good. The food and drink spread was located near the center of the lounge, and consisted of a self-serve buffet and a live cooking station.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal buffet
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal buffet

I was impressed both by the quantity and quality of choices. In one area, the buffet had chips, carrot cake, hummus, guacamole, and veggies.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food

Then the lounge had an excellent cold selection of tasty and healthy options, ranging from a Greek salad, to a beet salad, to a carrot salad.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food

There were two soups, including Italian wedding soup and cream of mushroom soup, which were offered with rolls.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food

There were three hot dishes at the buffet, including sriracha cod, potatoes, and roasted beets. I’ve gotta say, all three options were surprisingly delicious.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food

Then there was the live cooking station.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal cooking station

There were samples of three dishes on display you could order, including poutine, arancini, and a smoked meat sandwich.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal cooking station

The live cooking station also had three other options, including Moroccan chicken, pasta with tomato sauce, and rice.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food

Beyond the food, the buffet had a soda machine, water, coffee, tea, and beer on tap.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal drinks
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal drinks

Then the bar had several wine options to choose from, including three white options, three red options, and one rose.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal wine
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal wine

What I was most excited about is that the bar had barista coffee, so that was a real treat.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal cappuccino

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal bathrooms & showers

The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal bathrooms are deep into the lounge and to the right. The men’s room isn’t particularly large, but is well appointed. It has three sinks, two urinals, and a few stalls, with toiletries from Molton Brown.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal bathrooms
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal bathroom
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal bathroom
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal toiletries

The lounge also has two shower suites, which are great. They each have a walk-in shower with two shower heads, plus a toilet and a sink.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal shower suite
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal shower suite
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal shower suite

Bottom line

The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal is a pretty great lounge. It has lots of natural light, a really great selection of food and drinks, and several types of seating options. While it’s not to the level of Air Canada’s Signature Suites at other airports, it’s a solid Star Alliance Gold and Star Alliance business class lounge that I’d be happy to spend time in again in the future.

What’s your take on the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal?

Conversations (19)
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  1. Henry Guest

    Line up to get in ALL THE TIME
    Waiting time can be longer than 1 hour
    What a waste of time
    Poorly managed

  2. NedsKid Diamond

    Disappointing the management staff were using the lounge as a conference room. Certainly not professional.

    Ben: If you haven't seen it, look up on YouTube "Pan Am Shop Talk." Besides some historical MIA terminal shots, it's a good message and fascinating and I think you'd get a kick out of it. (And if you view that channel's other videos, down a rabbit hole that takes hours to get out of... "This is MY galley" or "Miss Upper Deck" are kinda funny training videos.

  3. Kiwi Guest

    I'm pretty sure the lounge was opened in 2016 when the International wing was expanded.

    Still the International terminal is a vast improvement over the Aeroquay days

  4. Peter Brown Guest

    This ML lounge is better than any ML lounge in Canada. YUL has no signature lounge like YYZ and YVR which are excellent lounges offering much more drink. food and services.

  5. Here Hare Guest

    But no sparkling. Not even behind the staffed bar. AC is ludicrously frugal.

  6. Fed UP Guest

    "" international Maple Leaf Lounge (not to be confused with the domestic lounge or the transborder lounge, since Canadian airports are kind of complicated in that regard).""

    The fact that you don't understand domestic, transborder and international doesn't make it complicated... it means you can't seem to grasp the distinction. Having a transborder function allows for US bound flight to land in the US without going through immigration upon arrival and allows for flights to...

    "" international Maple Leaf Lounge (not to be confused with the domestic lounge or the transborder lounge, since Canadian airports are kind of complicated in that regard).""

    The fact that you don't understand domestic, transborder and international doesn't make it complicated... it means you can't seem to grasp the distinction. Having a transborder function allows for US bound flight to land in the US without going through immigration upon arrival and allows for flights to easily divert. Also, Canadian airports are much better for transit passengers, unlike US airports that really don't have international transit (does HNL still allow that ?)

    1. kiwi Guest

      The real reason they were designed this is historically there were different security standards for domestic canada vis International standards (just like Australia and NZ) The transborder is simply because of the preclearance setup

    2. Jason B Guest

      You think Ben, professional traveler, who holds two passports, has crossed more borders and visited more airports/lounges than 99.99% of all of humanity doesn't understand Canadian airport security areas?

    3. red_robbo Member

      Did I miss where Ben said he didn't understand the difference?
      Or did you miss where he didn't say it?
      I think you're trying to teach your grandma to suck eggs.....

  7. John Guest

    I thought the Maple Leaf Club membership was shelved in the pandemic and no immediate plans to bring it back given overcrowding at AC hubs given their recent credit card tie ins with lounge access.

    And if there was a signature lounge at YUL presumably you wouldn’t have access unless it was the fully flexible points redemptions, not on standard redemptions?

  8. USUKHKflyer New Member

    This has the feel of a cheap Cathay lounge to me. Similar aesthetic but more cut-rate materials.

  9. Julia Guest

    As someone for whom YUL is my home airport, the international Maple Leaf Lounge is way better than the domestic and transborder ones at YUL. The domestic and transborder lounges are tired looking and desperately need a revamp.

    There are some international departures in the morning to sun destinations in countries like Mexico and the DR. There is a huge market for that here in Montreal. It's just that the international section is way busier...

    As someone for whom YUL is my home airport, the international Maple Leaf Lounge is way better than the domestic and transborder ones at YUL. The domestic and transborder lounges are tired looking and desperately need a revamp.

    There are some international departures in the morning to sun destinations in countries like Mexico and the DR. There is a huge market for that here in Montreal. It's just that the international section is way busier when the flights to Europe are getting ready to depart. I have had to wait in line to access the international Maple Leaf Lounge.

    1. Baliken Guest

      In December I entered in the transborder MLL waiting for a flight for Chicago. There was a queue to enter at 6am or so. Once in I found the lounge crowded and depressing. The line for self service coffee was several minutes. Needless to say, I left for a restaurant and enjoyed it more than that lounge.

      Also, for the international MLL, one of the airlines I fly frequently from YUL (TK), recently started using the Air France lounge. Much better than the MLL.

    2. Fed UP Guest

      MLL ? where is that ? you mean YUL

    3. YULtide Gold

      MLL = Maple Leaf Lounge

      Do try to keep up.

    4. Gibsy Guest

      God you’re a tool aren’t you?

  10. Monte Poster Guest

    For the time being, YUL is my home airport. Your observations regarding customer service in the international lounge are spot on. It’s the same service as the domestic and transborder lounges: not terrible but nothing to write home about.

    Doesn’t help that the Canadian market is small and Air Canada has a monopoly for flights and lounges in Canada.

  11. ptahcha Guest

    Interestingly, the layout of the bar and the buffet looks almost exactly like the SFO MLL, minus the live cooking station.

    Also, the transborder YUL MLL does not have a bar. Instead, all drinks are self-serve, including all alcohol.

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Henry Guest

Line up to get in ALL THE TIME Waiting time can be longer than 1 hour What a waste of time Poorly managed

1
David Guest

Wow...why so snarky?

1
red_robbo Member

Did I miss where Ben said he didn't understand the difference? Or did you miss where he didn't say it? I think you're trying to teach your grandma to suck eggs.....

0
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