I enjoyed a superb four-hour stay in the Air Canada Café in Toronto Pearson (YYZ), a tremendous lounge concept that instantly became one of my favorites in North America.
Air Canada Café Review (Toronto – YYZ)
The Air Canada Café represents a different take on airline lounges. Rather than a large buffet of food and cheap booze, this lounge focuses on quality, not quantity. Stop here for sumptuous coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, cold-pressed juices, and light snacks intended to be taken with you. It’s a lounge concept that I would love to see a lot more of.
Access + Location + Hours
The lounge is located in the domestic terminal (1) near gate D20 (ironically, just past a Starbucks). It is open daily from 5:15am to 12:00am.
Access is reserved for those departing on a domestic confirmed Air Canada flight flying in business class or Premium Rouge, Aeroplan Super Elite, 75K, 50K, and Star Alliance Gold members, and select Aeroplan Credit Cardholders. Eligible cards include:
- TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card
- CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card
- American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
- American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card
- American Express Aeroplan Corporate Reserve Card
My domestic routing was deliberately crafted in order to visit this lounge. I once tried to access this lounge prior to a transborder flight to the USA and was denied. I tried again prior to a flight to Lima, Peru and was also denied. Sadly, this is a lounge purely for domestic Air Canada travelers.
This lounge was awarded the Grands Prix du Design 2020 Award in the café category and it is clear why: the artwork, lighting, stonework, plants, and juxtaposition of colors make this a gorgeous space.
Although you are encouraged to take food and drink to-go, there is plenty of seating available, with power ports strategically positioned to ensure you devices remain charged.
Coffee is provisioned by Lavazza and the expansive menu included the following hot choices:
- caffe Americano
- caffe latte
- espresso con pana
- caffe mocha
- chocolata Italiana
- hot chocolate
- espresso nocclolato
- neve sulla lava
Cold brew included:
- cold brew iced
- cold brew nitro
- Mediterranean cold brew
- black cherry cold brew
- nutty nitro
- coco choc nitro
During my stay, I enjoyed a couple flat whites, a cappuccino, and a cold brew…all coffee was superbly prepared and had a strong, intense flavor.
In addition to great coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice (in front of your eyes) is available as well as a selection of cold pressed juices from Greenhouse. I greatly enjoyed the juice and appreciated the alternative to the usual lounge selection of cranberry, apple, or orange juice that is often more sugar and water than actual juice.
While this lounge does not have hot food, Goûter freshly-baked croissants and danish and Lindt chocolate truffles are available from the coffee bar and a self-serve food area includes a variety of sandwiches, salads, cheese, fruit, yogurt, and other nibbles like chips and candy.
Small paper bags are provided and you are encouraged to take food to go (which probably wouldn’t work in the USA, as we’d bring extra suitcases and load up on the “free” goodies…).
Showers are not available, but a large restroom was in the lounge.
The days of large magazine and newspaper racks in airport lounges are drawing to a close. As much as I love a printed newspaper, Air Canada offers over 7,000 magazines and newspapers with PressReader, which you can easily access over the lounge’s wi-fi network.
A service counter is present in the lounge, but it was not staffed during my visit. I had to make a flight change and was directed out to the customer service counter.
The lounge staff, however, was cheerful and beaming with pride over the lounge as I expressed envy that we don’t have lounges like this in the States (with the exception, perhaps, of the new Capitol One lounge in Dallas). While the baristas could use some work on their latte art, they made excellent coffee drinks which really put a smile on my face.
Take advantage of this lounge if you have access. It represents a bold new concept for an airline lounge that I hope will proliferate across Canada and the USA. Lufthansa offers a similar lounge in Munich called the Senator Café, but this was the first of its kind in North America.