16 Days in China: The Vancouver International Maple Leaf Lounge

After an enjoyable trip from San Francisco to Vancouver, I had a few hours before heading off to Hong Kong. I went over to the International Maple Leaf Lounge to relax and get some work done. The woman who let me in was very friendly, and she took a look at my boarding pass, looked up my flight information, wrote the departure gate on the pass, and told me how to get there from the lounge.

I was surprised by two things when I came in. First, there is not a shower facility. Air Canada runs flights from Vancouver to Auckland, Syndey, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing, and Shanghai. One might think that passengers connecting in Vancouver to a domestic flight or to a flight in the USA might enjoy a quick shower between flights. The second thing that surprised me was how small the lounge was, considering how many international passengers it needed to serve. Those quibbles aside, it's a very nice place.

When first walking in, you pass the bathrooms, and then immediately on your left, there are a bank of computers for browsing the internet. I always figure that most people with lounge access likely have their own laptops, iPads, or other internet connected devices so I would rather see the space used for more seating, but I suppose I could envision a situation where I dropped my laptop or something, and I needed to get on a computer. Apparently my thinking isn't supported by reality, though, as the computers were packed with users!

The bars in the Maple Leaf Lounge are self serve, and I appreciate this for many reasons. It likely saves on costs to the airline, and I'm no longer forced to tip a bartender for "free" drinks. I also love being able to walk up to a fridge and grab my own sodas, a la Red Carpet Club IAD / PHX / BOS / a few others. Air Canada doesn't disappoint here, with a large fridge filled with canned beverages that you can help yourself to. I guess I'm just part of the Web 2.0 generation that prefers little to no human interaction ;-).

After grabbing a drink, I found a nice table in the corner, and I sat down to cram out some work. After all, I only had a few hours before I would get on a plane and lose all connectivity for thirteen hours! The Vancouver airport has free wifi throughout the terminal, and while it wasn't the fastest in the world, it did the job just fine. My table had a nice view of the planes, and I sat there trying to figure out which was mine.

When I had first arrived, the food bar was stocked with breakfast food, and after my good meal on the morning flight, I wasn't ready for more food quite yet. I also knew I had a good meal coming on my flight to Hong Kong in the Executive First Suite, but after a couple hours, i went for a snack. Air Canada lays out their food spread in a salad bar style. I'm a big fan of their lentil salad that seems to be in everyone of their lounges. They also had a big bowl of lettuce with toppings like croutons, olives, and cranberries just to the side. A big plate of fresh veggies was adjacent to that. I think a salad bar is a great idea for an airport lounge. It lets people with different tastes pick their own assortment, and it also seems relatively easy to maintain. There was a soup pot on the end, and while it looked good, I didn't try any. On a separate stand nearby, there were hot noodles.

The International Maple Leaf Lounge was the perfect place to relax in between flights and get some work done. I'm quite the fan of Air Canada, and I'm sure that I'll be back!


Nathaniel April 10, 2011 at 02:51 pm

As the international facility at Vancouver is pretty much departure only there is not as much need for one there. I do believe the trans border club has showers for your purpose...

Nick August 24, 2011 at 11:06 pm

The transborder lounge does have one, and I still have posting that review in my to-do queue.

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