So, yeah, I’m finally finishing this trip report nearly 3 years after I started. I recently connected through Toronto on Air Canada en route to Vienna. While this trip took me to the Maple Leaf Lounge in the international area, it reminded me of my visit to the Transborder lounge back in 2019. Unlike US carriers, Air Canada allows lounge access for Business Class passengers on transborder flights. That brought me to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto in the Transborder area. It’s a nice lounge, honestly better than I expected for a Transborder offering.
Note: this is the final installment in my Canada trip report from October, 2019. Click here for the trip report introduction and index.
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto Transborder Area
In the Transborder (F) Gates in Terminal 1. Initially, I had trouble locating this lounge, especially with the terminal construction at the time. After exiting the US Pre-clearance facility, you’ll see the elevator for the Maple Leaf Lounge. At the time, the elevators were across from a duty free shop, but that may be different now after construction. Take the elevators up to Level 4 to reach the lounge entrance. Warning: I’ve heard of extreme elevator crowding at peak times, generally 7-9 am weekdays. This is because there is no alternative to the elevator, i.e. no stairs available as an alternative. At 10:45 am on a Sunday, I encountered no issues.
The following passengers may access the Maple Leaf Lounge:
- Business Class and Premium Rouge passengers.
- Altitude Super Elite and Aeroplan 35k, 50k, and 75k members.
- Star Alliance Gold members.
- Canadian-issued Aeroplan credit card holders.
- Note that except for Premium Rouge passengers, passengers may bring guests for $30 before 11 am and $20 after.
Hours of operation are 4:30 am to 9 pm daily.
Date of Visit: October 20, 2019
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto Transborder Area Review
This is a pretty big lounge. The best way to describe it is a semi-circular series of seating areas around a central food station. Along the outside, a large seating area stretches along the windows. Unfortunately, the view out is largely obstructed due to a low-rise building next door. A huge missed opportunity, in my opinion, since Pearson offers nice views otherwise. The decor throughout is fair. I appreciated the splashes of color, as opposed to the cold, grey minimalism en vogue in the 2010s. But the furniture was starting to show its age in spots.
Between the outer circle and the kitchen is another decent sized sitting area.
In late 2019, the lounge offered a self-service buffet and drinks. I arrived at 10:45 am, with the transition from breakfast to lunch underway. Breakfast items were slim pickins, with some yogurt, cereal, fruit, and hard-boiled eggs left over.
There’s also a Lavazza coffee machine that produces a reasonable cup of coffee. At least for coffee non-snobs like me.
About 15 minutes after arriving, the attendants brought out the lunch spread. It offered a decent fresh salad and soup selection, and a couple of mediocre looking hot items. Sorry, the photos of the hot items didn’t come out, but if I recall, there was pasta and rice.
A well-stocked drinks refrigerator provides a good variety of soft drinks.
Meanwhile, the lounge offers quite a selection of beer on tap, wine, and mid-shelf liquors. While too early for a drink, it’s a nice selection for what’s effectively a domestic lounge. They actually had two liquor selections, one next to the wine, and one above the glasses.
Note that post-pandemic, food and beverage is offered through the “@ la table” online ordering system. Scan the QR code at your seat, select from the menu, and a staff member brings your order to your seat. I’ll detail the system in my review of the International gates lounge at Toronto, later.
Next to the kitchen area is another seating area with some dining tables. If you want extra space to spread out, there’s a few booths in the back.
Speaking of the dining area, imagine my surprise to find magazines! I haven’t seen these in a while. Along with the magazines are North American clocks and a flight board.
There is overflow seating in nooks and crannies throughout the lounge. This includes near the dining area, and a hidden area behind the inner seating section.
During my Sunday morning visit, the lounge was maybe at half capacity, so it felt quite spacious and quiet. I’m curious to see how busy things get during the morning rush, though.
Meanwhile, behind the dining area is a business center, with several cubicles, computers, and a printer. This is one of the better equipped business centers I’ve seen in some time – but where are the chairs?
The lounge also offers a couple of additional amenities. One is a kids playroom. There is a sign on the door prohibiting parents leaving kids unattended to go drink, or something. Consider yourself forewarned.
There’s also a TV room with a few nice theater-style seats and tables.
The lounge offers showers, but they were occupied during my visit, so I couldn’t get any photos.
I did notice one significant issue in this lounge – a serious lack of power points. I finally managed to find one at a seat by the window. That’s really not good in this day and age where everyone has electronics. However, I did find the neat amenity found in all Maple Leaf lounges – the charging lockers. Just plug in your phone, create a passcode, and charge your phone while you eat and drink.
I have to say, the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto Transborder area seemed – really nice for a Transborder lounge. At least I expected far less, more along the lines of a domestic Admirals Club. Perhaps it seemed nicer since I visited at a quiet time. I will say, crowding certainly makes a big difference; the Maple Leaf Lounge in the International gates didn’t seem nearly as nice, though it was pretty packed during my visit. The lack of power ports is a significant problem, though.