My next trip report series is about a recent whirlwind trip around the world I took. It was a Star Alliance First Class award using United miles (at pre-devaluation rates, 135,000 miles), but I didn’t have a single United flight so that in itself is a win. It was a fun mix of new destinations, new routes and product, plus some familiar pieces as well. The ultimate destination was a bucket list place for me, the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Due to some last minute ticket changes, and among other reasons, to lock up Lufthansa First Class space for transatlantic flights, I ended up with a long layover in Toronto. I had an early morning flight from O’Hare, and then was connecting to the Munich in the afternoon.
Pretty nice breakfast for a short flight. This is on a the E-175 from O’Hare to Toronto
I decided to go into the city to pass the layover. I stored my bag in the at the Luggage Store for $5, then took an express bus from the airport to the subway into the center city, which was only $3, and took about an hour. I enjoy Toronto, and it was nice to have a few hours to just walk around on this nice summer day. While exploring I found one block was dressed up to look like Manhattan for a film shoot.
Other than the Maple leaf flag, it definitely looked like NYC
I made my way back to the airport, recollected my bag, and went to the departure hall to check in. I didn’t plan it this way, but this was the inaugural for the new Munich to Toronto service on Lufthansa. The only thing denoting the inaugural near the ticket counter was a balloon arch.
Lufthansa check in in Toronto. I didn’t count, but I think there were more than 99 Luftballons.
I headed through security, and unlike the transborder security area I’m more familiar with, getting through to the international gates had short lines. After walking around the city on a warm day, I wanted to take a shower. Especially since Lufthansa is known for warm cabins. I went to the Maple Leaf Lounge near the international gates. Its a long walk to the international gates, but thankfully that trip is sped up (literally) with a high speed walkway which is both innovative and fun.
High-speed walkway at Pearson Airport
This was my first time departing Toronto on a international flight, so it was my first visit to the Maple Leaf Lounge serving these gates. Due to the bank of departures, the lounge was rather crowded. After checking in, the agent asked if I’d like an escort to the gate. I said sure, and they told me they would page me when it was time to go. I then asked about shower availability, and was told it would be a few minutes.
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge for international departures at Toronto Pearson
Self Serve Bar
Thanks to Daniel for his photos of this lounge.
The Air Canada lounges are as a rule, very nice. Not outstanding, but to me they are by far the best business class lounges by North American airlines. The food and drink choices blow away what is available in similar lounges south of the border. There are various reviews here on Upgrd, but here is a review of the Vancouver Maple Leaf Lounge by Rohan that shows the various options available. This lounge had even more food choices with multiple hot options than I’ve seen in other lounges which normally are for Transborder or Canadian domestic flights. My assumption is this is due to this lounge serving longhaul international departures.
Once a shower room became available, I went there to get cleaned up and ready for my flight to Munich. I believe this lounge has 2 shower rooms available. They are well equipped and pretty spacious. Towels are provided, and the shower has a soap/shampoo/conditioner dispenser.
Shower room in Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge
After getting cleaned up, I found a seat in the lounge, and had a snack and relaxed briefly. I noticed the departure time for my flight was getting close, and soon my name was paged. As I walked to the gate with the Lufthansa agent, we chatted a bit, and she mentioned that I missed the gate festivities for the inaugural. I didn’t leave too much time before departure after my trip into the city, plus the shower I took in the lounge, but until now, I had no idea there were any festivities. Apparently, there was a polka band and some sweets served. Each passenger was given a letter from the Director of Canada for Lufthansa (in English, French and German) and a leather bookmark embossed with the date of the inaugural flight.
By the time I was at the gate, there were only a few passengers remaining to board, and the band was putting their instruments away. It would have been nice to take part in the gate party, but there would be plenty of food and drink to be had on the flight. As I would find out once on board, I would have the entire First Class cabin to myself for the flight to Munich.