Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge - Montreal International
On a recent trip through Montreal, I finally had a chance to stop by their new International Lounge, and was pleasantly surprised! Air Canada are aggressively pursuing premium long-haul passengers, and this is one step in that strategy.
The Good News
it’s a beautiful lounge; large, airy and well-appointed, with a catering section on par with any North American business-class lounge aside from the Centurions.
Air Canada lounges are notorious for lacklustre catering; a few urns of soup with a heart-shattering salt content, a bit of bread and a parsley salad, and a jar of stale cookies, so it was a real surprise to see a chef preparing fresh seafood pasta to order, as well as a properly-stocked buffet of appetizing food.
Unusually, the lounge offers both a self-serve bar, for those seeking just a bit of beer, wine or soft drink, as well as a large, fully-stocked bar turning out properly-constructed cocktails.
Air Canada have done a decent job of raising their beverage game, adding premium-but-inexpensive brands like Bulleit Bourbon, and the occasional craft beer. Hopefully, this will continue, and we’ll see local Canadian microbrews in each city!
The Bad News
Access is a bit limited; you've got to be departing on a Star Alliance member that night, with either a Business Class ticket, Star Alliance Gold status, or paid membership in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Club. You can also purchase lounge access if you're booked into an Air Canada Flex fare class or higher, cost ranges from $25-50 CAD per person depending on fare class.
I get it, Air Canada *really* wants to incentivize the higher fare classes, but charging an extra $25 just because you bought the $1,600 economy-Flex ticket to Paris and not the $3,400 economy-Latitude ticket to Paris, seems a bit much.
Similarly, a $2,000+ Premium Rouge ticket does not include lounge access when flying outside North America, but you can pay an extra $25-50 per person!
I wouldn’t normally devote this much of a review to access rules, but this is just plain weird, especially from an airline hoping to attract people to its premium products.