Vancouver International Airport: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge

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.

Entrance to The Maple Leaf Lounge in the Domestic Terminal at YVR.
Entrance to The Maple Leaf Lounge in the Domestic Terminal at YVR.

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.

Such civilized waiting! Such comfortable furniture!
Such civilized waiting! Such comfortable furniture! Such fancy bathrooms! Such nice food!
There were at least a dozen different magazines available to read / take. About 1/3 were in French.
There were at least a dozen different magazines available to read / take. About 1/3 were in French.

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…

What a breakfast! I realized it was the first hot breakfast I've had in probably a month. It was AMAZING.
What a breakfast! I realized it was the first hot breakfast I’ve had in probably a month. It was AMAZING.
I claimed this seat for a couple hours and hung out (did some writing for the blog, actually) and enjoyed it so much.
I claimed this seat for a couple hours and hung out (did some writing for the blog, actually) and enjoyed it so much.

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.


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