I had another “first” last week. Not an exotic, living-in-Asia first, but a travel first nonetheless. Knowing she would see me in Kelowna, my cousin texted me before she arrived and asked whether I would have a layover on my way back to Hong Kong, and offered a guest pass for the Air Canada Lounge. Yes! Yes, I would have a layover. Yes! Yes, I would love a pass.
I arrived in Vancouver at the Domestic Terminal and had no idea where to go. It seems I have walked by the lounge dozens of times before during previous travel never really realizing what I was missing. (It turns out ignorance, in this case is, in fact, bliss.) Not knowing where to go, I found an information desk and confirmed my departing gate number and time (four hours until departure), then asked for the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, which I had walked past a minute before. I turned back and went in to the lobby. The guy in front of me had an international flight and moved on to the international lounge. I overhead this and confirmed with her that I, too, should go there? Nope! It seems that with the guest pass I was only eligible for the Domestic Lounge. WHATEVER! As if I cared. Anything would be better than sitting in ganged seating on grubby Fraser River inspired patterned carpet, next to a huge area of the airport that was hoarded off and under noisy construction.
I went upstairs to the lounge and just about feel over. Are you KIDDING ME? This exists? Comfortable lounge seating? A breakfast buffet? Wifi? Business services? Clean bathrooms? You can’t even image how impressed I was in my extremely overtired state. It was quiet, calm and organized. Staff cleared tables and tidied constantly. It was lovely.
I immediately found a table (left my purse and backpack there!) and grabbed some breakfast. I wasn’t even very hungry but this breakfast was GOOD. You don’t get breakfast like this in Hong Kong. While I would love to brag that I capitalized on every penny’s worth of that guest pass on liquor I did not (I was so temped to pour a beer but it was just too early!) I did, however, make a substantial dent in the pass’ value based on my portion of scrambled eggs and breakfast sausage alone. So yummy, and so much better than a typical buffet! Seriously, I could go on and on…
After eating way too much (second plate: not shown) I camped out in this window seat with a view of the tarmac (and a view of an old man across from me who got more breakfast on his shirt than in him – but he DID capitalize on the beer offering, so maybe that was it…) It was such a luxury to be able to relax between flights. Before I left to get to my gate the breakfast buffet shut down and lunch came out. There was soup, sandwiches, salad, veggies, etc. and a considerable variety of liquor was also out with mixers nearby for you to pour yourself. I couldn’t eat another bite, but everything looked great. Actually, that’s not true. I grabbed a cookie for the road about an hour before my departure and was on my way. Without a doubt, the best layover I have ever had!
What great timing – a couple days ago this article, about how to gain access to airport lounges, found its way on to my Facebook feed. My parting words of advice are this: read the article and/or do whatever you can to find your way in to an airport lounge (any! not just Air Canada!) and let me know if you have any tips on how I can do the same.