Review: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal Airport

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Review: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal Airport
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My flight from Montreal to Munich was scheduled to depart at 8:15PM, so I headed to the airport at around 4PM, given that I had to check-out of my hotel at that time. Upon arriving at the airport I followed the signage towards international departures, which was quite a haul from where the shuttle dropped off.


Montreal Airport check-in hall

There’s a shared check-in area for the Swiss flight to Zurich, as well as the Lufthansa flights to Frankfurt and Munich, and it was pure chaos. Fortunately the first & business class lines weren’t too long, but the economy line snaked around the terminal, and I can’t imagine how long it would have taken to get through it.

At first they didn’t want to check me in since they said it was “too early” for the Munich flight, but when I explained that I only had hand baggage, they agreed.


Lufthansa check-in Montreal Airport

I followed the signage towards security, where there was a fast track lane that I was through in a matter of minutes. I then turned left to head in the direction of my departure gate.


Montreal Airport airside terminal

Lufthansa uses the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, which is located between gates 52 & 53. This required going through the duty free shops, and was probably a five minute walk at a fast pace.


Montreal Airport duty free shops

The lounge has a sleek exterior, with the reception area being on the lower floor, and then stairs and an elevator leading up to the second level.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal exterior

Let me start by saying that I expected this lounge to be roughly on par with the other Maple Leaf Lounges I’ve visited. I’ve reviewed the Maple Leaf Lounges in London, Frankfurt, Toronto, and Vancouver, and I’ve been very impressed by all of them. However, I didn’t realize that the Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal was recently renovated, and that this would be the nicest business class lounge operated by a North American carrier that I’ve visited (though I haven’t been to the United Polaris Lounge Chicago).

I apologize for the lack of pictures of some areas of the lounge, but I try to respect the privacy of others in lounges, so I did my best to take pictures that avoid people as much as possible.

Near the entrance on the second floor was a dark room with lots of plants, which didn’t photograph especially well, but was cool.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating

Then the rest of the lounge had hardwood floors, and stylish and fresh-looking furniture.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating

As an aviation geek I appreciated the Air Canada 787 model in the new livery.


Air Canada 787 airplane model

Then there was a large room, which had the dining area, leather seats along the windows, etc.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating

I especially love these seats, which are cozy and private.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal seating

The centerpiece of the lounge was a gorgeous bar.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal bar

In addition to the traditional leather seats arranged in rows, along the windows were about half a dozen relaxation chairs, which had recliners.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal relaxation area

The lounge had stunning views, both of the gate area and of the taxiways and runways in the distance.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal view

Hi, Air China!


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal view


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal view

In the back corner of the lounge was a station with pretzels and a Lavazza coffee machine.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal drink station

The main buffet area was back near the entrance to the lounge, close to the bar, and was very impressive. Not only did I think the design was beautiful, but the selection was excellent as well. When I first arrived they were between meals, so the selection consisted of fresh veggies, a couple of types of salad, chips with several types of dip, two soups, dessert (including cookies, mousse, and fruit salad), etc.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal buffet


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal buffet


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal buffet


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal buffet


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal dessert


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal dessert

There was also a selection of self serve wine, beer, soft drinks, coffee, etc.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal drinks


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal beer

Around dinnertime the food selection got significantly better, though. It included things like green peas pilaf, butter chicken, grilled vegetables, chickpea and kale madras curry, mac & cheese, vegetables with chicken, etc.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food spread


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food spread


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food spread


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food spread


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food spread

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, there was also a cooking station with a chef, where you could custom order things.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food prep area

Here’s the menu of things you could order, which includes paninis and stir fry:


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal made to order food

I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so had some soup and curry (and too much bread, now that I’m looking at the pictures).


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal soup


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal food

On top of everything else, I loved the fact that you could have coffee drinks freshly made at the bar. While the Lavazza automated coffee machines are already as good as non-barista made coffee gets (in my opinion), you could even have the bartender make you an espresso, cappuccino, etc. I ordered a cappuccino, and it was fantastic.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal cappuccino

I spent a couple of hours in the lounge getting caught up on work. Boarding for my flight to Munich was scheduled for 7:35PM, so I left the lounge at around 7:20PM. My flight was departing from gate 59, which was just a short walk from the lounge.


Walking to Lufthansa departure gate Montreal


Lufthansa departure gate Montreal

While the Lufthansa A330 was already parked at the gate, unfortunately they were running a bit late on servicing the aircraft.


Lufthansa A330 Montreal Airport


Lufthansa departure gate Montreal

Boarding only began at 7:55PM, about 20 minutes behind schedule. Lufthansa HON Circle members (Lufthansa’s top tier elite status that requires 600,000 elite qualifying miles every two years) get “personal assistance” as a perk, though it seemed like the two HON Circle members on my flight didn’t get that, and weren’t happy. So they went up to the gate agent and requested to be allowed to board ahead of everyone else, which they allowed.

The lady behind me in line saw this, and said that she was also entitled to priority boarding as a Senator member. The agent explained that priority boarding referred to the line she was already in. After that was all sorted, boarding officially began.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal bottom line

I didn’t come into this lounge with any particular expectations, since I hadn’t even realized that Air Canada opened a new lounge in Montreal. However, I was very impressed. The lounge design was gorgeous, the food selection excellent, and they even had properly made espresso drinks, which gets them bonus points. This is probably the best business class lounge operated by a North American carrier that I’ve visited.

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Comments

  1. Forget AA, DL or UA, AC definitely has the best and most consistent transatlantic business class product. Super Diamond reverse herringbone seats with beautiful finishes on all 787s and 777s, nice lounges, extensive connectivity, great food and friendly service. And they’re currently rolling out the fastest international wifi in the sky.

    If only they’d get rid of Rouge…

  2. Just to be clear, this is the international MLL. The domestic and transborder MLLs are reportedly not as nice. For a few months there were lots of complaints over at FlyerTalk that domestic and transborder MLLs all over the country had nothing to eat but pickles.

  3. The Calgary lounge is very similar to this one. Their breakfast spread and omelet station is pretty impressive as well. Consistently my favourite lounges.

  4. What a petty struggle for priority boarding based on “status” you witnessed at the gate. Adults behaving like little kids fighting over the front seat in Dad’s car. All 3 of them were going to board before the masses anyway, but they wanted to ensure they were absolutely first in line!

  5. I am envious of what they have in Montreal. My Winnipeg MLL would barely qualify as the broom closet for that place.

  6. I’ll be enjoying the international Maple Leaf Lounge in Toronto in a couple of weeks, and you’ve got me thinking of going to the airport early so I can fully indulge. These lounges are consistently good just about everywhere.

  7. @Charlie McMillan You’ll find the YYZ International AC MLL to be similar in terms of food – but that’s about it. There’s no bar, and despite it being huge it gets really crowded at peak departure times. Although there are some seating areas which are supposed to provide a bit more privacy or separation, there aren’t many of them. That said, as Lucky and others have pointed out, any of the major AC lounges are head and shoulders above what any similar location in the US has on offer. I’d even put AC’s regional lounges (YHZ for instance) up against any of the US carrier’s main hub lounges. The only other option at YYZ T1 International is a Plaza Premium lounge which gives access to AmEx Platinums or Priority Pass and it’s no great shakes…though the food can be better than AC MLL.

  8. This lounge is much nicer than the MLL in Toronto. The Toronto one hasn’t been renovated recently like this one and when visiting around all the European afternoon/evening flights this lounge is packed to the point it’s hard to find a seat. I also think the one in Montreal has better food than in Toronto. I hope they renovate the YYZ MLL like this beautiful MLL. This is definitely Air Canada’s nicest lounge.

  9. Have the AC lounges been removed from the Priority Pass system? I’ve heard that access has been denied for PP members at LAX.

  10. What was the criteria for fast-track security? I’m flying out of there YUL-DCA (trans-border) on AC next month, and I’ll be rushing from my meeting to the airport. I’m flying economy as there is no business class on that route, but I am *G and also have PreCheck (not sure if that works on trans-border flights in Canada though).

  11. @VX_Flier, it’s not denied. AC switched operations from T2 to T6, which means the old lounge is no longer operated by AC which at that time contracted to Priority Pass. The new lounge at T6, however, is smaller so I guess they can’t accommodate as many guests and decided not to extend their contract with PP.

  12. Looks good – wish I could access this when flying Icelandair through YUL in sept. Have anyone been to the priority pass location here – BNC (Banque Nationale du Canada) ??

  13. I visited this lounge in 2015, while flying business on Swiss. The lounge agents were surprised when I presented a boarding pass and asked, is Swiss Star Alliance? Food options were limited as the LX flight departed around 5:30 and dinner was not brought out until after I departed. I find it odd that they would not want to serve the departing transatlantic passengers to eat in lounge and sleep on flight, for the earlier departures (there were also several AC flights leaving at that time too).

  14. I’ve been to the YVR transborder MLL recently and although not as nice as the one Ben’s been too, it was more than acceptable. Both food and drinks offerings were more than sufficient (not only pickles offered) and amount of seating area was sufficient. This is better than not having any lounge facility to access too if you fly DL or AA.

  15. Hi. I always get Google alerts on your posts and postings. Love them all! My question is a little off about the Maple Leaf Lounge: were those tortilla chips in pasta bowls atop a hotplate? Is that a little too low brow for J-Class lounge? Or am I being too picky and a snob? Don’t get me wrong, I love nachos, like at El Torito or La Talpa or Cabo Cantina….But in pasta bowls?

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