Review: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Calgary Domestic, Alberta, Canada.
The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at Calgary International Airport is the sole Maple Leaf Lounge in existence at the Calgary Airport. As the only lounge, it does triple duty as the domestic, transborder and international lounge for all the Air Canada and Star Alliance Departures. Despite this responsibility, it does an excellent job at living up to expectations and offers a very good lounge experience with upscale touches.
Review: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Calgary Domestic “C” Concourse, Calgary International Airport, Alberta, Canada
This review is about the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Calgary International Airport, located in the “C” Concourse of the Domestic Terminal. For another lounge in the Calgary International Airport Domestic Terminal, and the direct competition to the Maple Leaf lounge, please see our review of the Westjet Elevation Lounge Calgary Domestic, located a short distance away.
The City of Calgary is home to Canada’s other national airline Westjet. Air Canada is competing head to head with Westjet with a city that is tremendously loyal to Westjet and has a heavy energy sector with substantial business air traffic. In other to maintain some competitive advantage, Air Canada has recently renovated it’s Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in Calgary, offering some perks like a full service bar and contemporary decor that they don’t offer at many other lounges.
It’s worth nothing that this is the sole Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at the Calgary International Airport. Unlike their focus cities of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, Air Canada does not operate additional Transborder or International Maple Leaf Lounges in Calgary; making this place a one stop shop. If you’re departing form Calgary International Airport on an Air Canada or Star Alliance Transborder or International Flight, this is likely the lounge available to you.
Locating the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Calgary Domestic:
I had arrived to the Calgary International Airport on a connecting flight as I often find myself. Today’s visit led me to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Calgary Domestic. I arrived to the airport on a flight from nearby British Columbia at Gate C54
Walking down the C Concourse, which is home to Air Canada’s Calgary Operations, it is really easy to find the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge. If you’re connecting from the “C” Gates, like I was, the Maple Leaf Lounge is immediately near the exit to the secure side at concourse “C” before the YYC Link electric vehicle shuttle pathway. If you’re arriving to the airport, it’s located immediately after clearing CATSA security after the YYC Link electric vehicle shuttle roadway.
The view of the lounge entrance, from the perspective of an arriving traveller coming from security screening. The lounge entry is easily noticeable thanks to its elegant brown and grey panelling surrounding the entry.
Accessing the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge:
The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge was accessed today courtesy of a business class ticket for an Air Canada Business Class Calgary – Vancouver flight. Unlike in the United States, Air Canada allows for lounge access when flying in domestic or trans-border first class. No guests are permitted under these circumstances.
You could also get access into the lounge through a business class ticket on Air Canada under the Star Alliance Lounge policy, by purchasing an annual lounge membership, or through select Canadian based credit card memberships affiliated with American Express.
Access to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge is also permitted for Star Alliance Gold Customers travelling in any class of travel. Access is permitted for a Star Alliance member airline operated flight which departs at the same day as the visit or latest by 05:00 AM the next morning. If your boarding pass does not carry the Star Alliance Gold indicator, you will need to also show your valid Star Alliance Gold card. Under these circumstances, one guest is permitted.
In other great news, the lounge itself is located on the same level as the departures concourse, so there is no cramped elevator to ride in order to gain access to the lounge.
I presented my boarding pass to the scanner at reception and was given access to get in. I was welcomed and I led myself into the lounge.
Inside the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge:
The lounge reception hallway immediately leads you to a “T” shaped intersection. The left side leads to lounge seating, where as the right side leads to the bar and the food and beverage station. Since I was travelling during the pandemic, there were dividers set up throughout the lounge, in addition to ground marking arrows, funnelling all traffic in similar directional flows.
Once into the lounge itself, the lounge was portioned by a large decorative wall. The wall had embedded contemporary lighting also found in the flagship Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto Pearson International Gates. The wall added a sleeker look to the place than in other lounges in the Maple Leaf Lounge System, which are often decorated in a slightly business oriented and plain decor.
The pathway route led me over towards the computer workstation area. The workstation area contained approximately a dozen work stations with power points, in addition to a long communal table that could be located in any office. The work station area was situated in a darker back portion of the lounge, away from the windows to the apron.
Getting back to the more fun side of the lounge, on the building side of the decorative wall, there were some lounge chairs and a few tables near a decorative vertical encased wine display. As my visited was during the pandemic, there were a lot less lounge chairs that can be expected in the lounge as current seating was socially distanced.
Moving clockwise around the exterior of the lounge, there remained the only left over pieces from the lounge prior to its recent renovation. This included a fireplace and a commemorative animal skin covering remarking the lounge’s opening in June 1998. Having visited first hand in the cold of Calgary’s winter, the fireplace is a great addition when the temperatures are a freezing -25 Celsius outside.
Moving around onto the other side of the partition wall, there were large floor to ceiling windows that looked outside at the Air Canada Domestic apron, in addition to an extended look towards the Westjet Apron at the “B” Gates. The Calgary “B” Gates used to be the tiny US Departures Pre-Clearance Zone consisting of only a few gates, which has since relocated over to “E” Gates in the new International Wing.
There were terrific views out the windows of the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Calgary. These were of the Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft that now serve the Vancouver – Calgary shuttle routes. Being at the start of the concourse, the best views are at Gate 50 & 52. Traffic views of aircraft departing and taxiing are quite a ways away, so you probably won’t get many plane spotting opportunities when you visit here.
After following the glass around the edge of the lounge, the area eventually dead ended in a small triangular shape adjacent to another decorative wall. There was a small breezeway at the end of the wall to allow for access to and from the food service area.
Behind the decorative wall was a medium sized media area featuring a large television. The area only featured a single row of seating and was open to the other areas of the lounge. This seemed more like a social space rather than a media viewing space.
The lounge also offered attached bathrooms inside the lounge area. The bathrooms were featuring Molton Brown Soap and Lotions, which was a nice upscale touch.
Unfortunately, what this lounge doesn’t have is a lot of physical space. Due to the airport shape and size, the lounge is somewhat compact in its foot print, making this a somewhat medium sized space to service both Air Canada’s Domestic, Transborder and International Traffic. The lounge has occupied mostly the same space since opening twenty three years ago, aside from a small expansion. As a result, I have found it to be quite busy at certain times of the day when regular travel demand is present.
Food and Beverage:
The lounge offered a full service bar. It occupies a large space on the right hand side of the lounge next to the food service area. This is one of the few Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges that offer a full service bar that isn’t self serve, aside from the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver International. It’s a nice classy touch and looks down right impressive for a Canadian Business Lounge. Although there was only one staff member working the bar today, there was no line for drinks.
Immediately behind the car was the food service area. It’s typically a buffet styled area. However, as a result of the pandemic, Air Canada was operating on an order from the table basis. As a result, it was not set up for direct food collection on today’s visit.
To ensure a safer experience during the pandemic, Air Canada had shifted lounge food service to a remote ordering method. Those seated at tables were encouraged to scan the menu and order electronically by phone. Once ordered, the food would be brought direct to table in take away style sealed containers.
The menu items on today’s visit in the late afternoon consisted of “afternoon snacks” and “dessert”. The menu featured some interesting and engaging items which I’d actually be interested in eating. The menu consisted with mains and desserts. Based on seeing what was delivered out, the menu portions looked quite small and snack like. You may do better ordering a few of them if you are hungry.
There were also two celebrity chef menu features available, both of which I would have likely ordered had I stayed longer. Both chefs feature prominently on the current on board Air Canada Business Class catering menus in domestic and international flights.
While I didn’t stick around for any food today, the food looked appealing and engaging. I would have liked to have sampled some of them had I not had a short connection time before heading off on an Air Canada Business Class Calgary – Vancouver flight.
My Thoughts on the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Calgary Domestic:
Overall, the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge at Calgary International Airport Domestic “C” Gates was a reasonable and solid domestic lounge. They have renovated the space nicely and have made the lounge an attractive space to relax in. While the lounge can tend to be busy at times, on today’s visit it was just right. The food looked appealing and there were nice upscale touches like a vertical wine display and Molton Brown soaps available in the washroom. All these things on their own don’t make a lounge, but it was the little things that added up that made a visit more special. Air Canada does a great job with their lounge products, making the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Calgary Domestic on my list of “must visit” places when I am through Calgary International Airport.