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.
This looks good especially for a domestic lounge.
Have you ever visited the Signature Suite at YYZ? I have a four hour transit coming up in a few weeks and while I’ve read the AC info, I’d prefer an objective opinion on what to expect.
Has the Signature Suite re-opened? I visited it and LOVED it.
Speaking of lounges, I have seen some reports that the LAX Polaris lounge has reopened. Can you confirm that?
Don’t see how 1 Tokyo flight and 1 Sydney flight that are both pretty empty and at complete different times of the day can justify the lounge being opened? Wasn’t expecting it to return until April 16 when LHR resumes.
Yes, confirmed. UA let me know that the lounge reopened on 02 March. I’ll have a post about it tomorrow.
I actually managed to visit this flight after a domestic connection to a transborder USA flight (before clearing customs), they almost snatched away the sandwiches that we’d brought at US customs in YYZ but reconsidered and let us keep them, thankfully
Good data point. Makes sense that you could visit because you were already in the terminal – I tired to walk walk to the terminal on both the secure and non-secure side (both possible) but was flatly denied.
Love this lounge and fantastic to see the whole lounge concept be updated for contemporary preferences. I really like the innovations like focusing on grab & go options, proper barista-made hot drinks and fresh juices instead of a bar, plus the modern decor. Air Canada has become my favorite major full-service airline in North America.
If this is “contemporary” or “modern” then I am hopelessly old fashioned, preferring for a 4 h stay QRs Al Mourjan with an exquisite a la carte menu and high quality beverages, including wines and spirits. Not unusual that modernity is used as a pretext for saving money on customers.
I love Al Mourjnan (or Al Safwa) too…but I will say the coffee is better in this AC Cafe and coffee is huge for me.
Offcourse, they cheated a lot of customers during the covid period by not letting them board the flight and not paying the refunds…I an still waiting for 3 tickets refund from them since Dec 8th 2021.
I was there in the AC Lounge in Toronto in Dec 2021 ans in Jan 2022 and both times there was No fresh orange juice or any cold press juces at all whatsoever. All that ia gone now. Yes the Lounge is nice, comfortable and safe expweience.
Coffee is yes amazing, there is beer on tap and water as well as other soft drinks.
Food is pretty much meh now as its cold sandwiches premade and small snack size food you can order to your table vua mobile scan. The menu isnt much to be desired though, small scale since reopening since covid.
Same exact menu even dessert, pasta, pizza slice, panacota thars runny
Everything is served in paper box or wrapped in paper.
Service is fine otherwise and very clean.
Please bring back the fresh juices.
And yes takeout is good as beverages free is good. All around good experience but pre covid was better. Showers in premium lounge , wish they would add in AC lounge.
They did have fresh-squeezed orange juice for my visit – I watched the agent squeeze it in front of me.
Very interesting lounge, although I am a bit baffled about the ‘domestic pax only’ rule. Is this the only *G lounge in the world which is only open to passengers going to certain destinations as opposed to any departing *A flight? I certainly haven’t heard of another one.
It’s not a lounge rule – no Star Gold or business class passenger would be turned away. What I meant to convey was the security folks seem very strict in Canada and won’t let you into the domestic terminal gate area unless you are on a domestic flight—at least that was my experience here on previous trips when I tried to visit.
Ah, makes sense now! Cheers.
As a 50k Aeroplan member, can I bring in a first guest?
This lounge has been there for three or four years, though closed during the pandemic. Good to see it reopened. It’s close to the gates for the flights to Montreal and Ottawa and designed for a quick pit stop with the grab and go concept to provision for one of those short flights. Though of course one can sit and enjoy the coffee and snacks on site. Other offerings such as hot food, alcohol and showers are available at the Maple Leaf Lounge upstairs, where one would normally spend a bit more time.
Overall the Cafe is a good concept that introduces some choice and an option for a quick pit stop. I’d love to see more open up in other airports. YUL could really use one.
You need to stop.
What is a “sumptuous coffee”?
The cafe was closed for the vast majority of the pandemic, only opening briefly before closing again due to a flood (still closed due to flood).
I’m glad you were able to visit, and it’s by far my favourite domestic lounge in YYZ, far surpassing the MLL. Seriously, the food offerings in the MLL are so disappointing and with the intense crowding situation these days, why even bother going.
I’m sorry to hear it has closed again.
Random thing from googling – it looks like Emirates business class passengers in YYZ should get access as well.
Additionally, for Emirates flights departing Toronto, Emirates Business Class passengers will have access to Maple Leaf Lounges and the Air Canada Café, and Emirates First Class customers (and up to one guest on the same flight) will have access to the Air Canada Signature Suite.