Review: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Vancouver Domestic – “Pandemic Edition”

The first leg of a trip is always among the most exciting. Thanks to the global health pandemic, our first impressions and the lack of other travellers set the stage for a remarkable and unique travel experience.

This post is one chapter on our trip to Killarney Manitoba, Canada. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Vancouver Domestic – “Pandemic Edition”

“Visiting The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver Domestic during a pandemic, like all other travel, is a vastly different experience. Despite the changes, Air Canada’s done a great job at adapting the environment, rending a mostly (necessary) sterile lounge experience “

We parked at our local onsite parking stall and walked up towards the main terminal at Vancouver International Airport.

It was pretty serene and completely deserted on approach to the main terminal. I haven’t ever seen it as empty as this. Usually the Russ Baker Way departures ramp is bumper to bumper with drop offs and other cars blocking the way. 

Vehicle Approach to YVR Departures

Instead of entering the building, we walked outside along the exterior walkway towards the domestic terminal building. It was pretty serene and the only persons around were airport employees having an outdoor smoke.

YVR – US Transborder Departures Zone
YVR – Domestic Drop Off

At the domestic building, we entered and visited the Domestic Priority Services counter. We interreacted with a friendly agent behind plexiglass screens so that MrsWT73 could check a bag of supplies for her mom. 

YVR Domestic Check in Zone
Empty Check in Halls
Air Canada Priority Check In – YVR Domestic
Empty Airport Halls – almost all shops closed

There was only one international flight leaving today.  It was super strange to see a flight board completely empty for an international airport.

Only One International Flight Departing Today – with only two counters handling check in

Heading to CATSA Security, there was no need for the Nexus lane. I was the only one in the queue. After a temperature check and clearing security, we headed past the Plaza Premium Lounge (the only priority pass option running at the airport) and headed to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge.

Air Canada Concourse – YVR Domestic

This was one of two only lounge options currently open by Air Canada in the whole country. 

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – Vancouver Domestic:

On arrival, the door was already propped open. We entered and self scanned ourselves in. 

Lounge Doors Propped Open During Pandemic Travel
Vancouver Maple Leaf Lounge Reception

After passing reception, we led ourselves up the elevator and up to the second floor.

Inside the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – “Pandemic Edition”

The lounge was pretty deserted and as empty as I’ve ever seen it. The chairs were separated and comfortable for social distancing.

A Socially Separated Lounge
A Strange Sight
Lounge Seating

With seating this far apart, I certainly didn’t have many worries about catching any diseases from fellow travellers.

Spaced Out Seating Throughout the Lounge
The Usual Computer Areas with Computers Removed
Separated Bistro Dining
Our Seat for Today

The usual buffet was cleared out and only left as a counter.

The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge has now set up a self scan menu which is seated on each table.. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the memo that hot food was only served during certain hours. The hours were breakfast 6 AM – 10 AM, lunch 11 AM – 2 PM and 5 PM – 8 PM for dinner.  

Self Scan Menu Codes

The items looked okay, although we didn’t get the opportunity to try them out since we arrived at 2:30 PM. 

Since we were here in between meal service hours, we had the snack menu. The snack menu is much less inspiring that Hawksworth inspired dishes. We collected these from the manned counter near the buffet stand.

Maple Leaf Lounge All Day Snack Menu

The snack menu was pre-bagged goods served in a small lunch bag. I had the thai chicken wrap, which was pretty tiny. This was accompanied with a bag of ruffles chips (Sour Cream and Onion). I should have had a second wrap but I didn’t get around to it. 

Snacks – Pandemic Style

I actually went back for the “cheese and crackers”, which was presented as small individual wrapped Balderson Cheese accompanied with Premium Plus soup crackers. 

We enjoyed some airside views of the Vancouver International Airport wing. The apron was completely deserted.

One China Southern Aircraft marked the entire International Termal

Oh to wish how it was. 

My thoughts on the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – Pandemic Edition:

Air Canada has done a remarkable job at re-opening their lounges given the worldwide pandemic. The lounge experience is a far cry from the pre-pandemic days where sitting in a lounge was actually a relaxing and enjoyable place to spend some time. Now, through no fault of Air Canada, it’s become a very sterile environment with the requisite safety measures. The A La Caret Bistro Dining is a great idea. However, it’s too bad we didn’t know about it’s limited hours.

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