After collecting my checked luggage, I had to make my way to the Air Canada Terminal where my LOT Polish flight to Warsaw departs from. That means I need to take the train around and it was a bit of a hassle to transfer between terminals especially with a snowboard bag!
The check-in counters for LOT Polish have not yet opened, thus I had to wait it out and that gave me time to use the washrooms and just wait patiently since there was no one in the queue for Business Class. Queues have already started to form for Economy Class though and it was quite a long one.
Eventually the check-in counters opened at about 3 hours before scheduled departure, and I proceed to the Business Class counter to obtain my boarding pass. The agents serving the counter seems to be just doing her job, but not exactly friendly or very welcoming. LOT premium passengers do get access to the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge but no directions were provided.
After that, there was another long queue for security at Toronto and I probably waited about 20 minutes before reaching the front of the line. There did not seem to be any priority queue or at least none that I noticed. However Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge is quite easy to get to following the signs after passing security.
Since I had been travelling for more than a day, I asked for a shower on entry and was told to proceed to the end of the lounge. When I reached there, there was only 2 shower rooms in lounge. While they were large the housekeeping was dismal as both were not cleaned when I wanted to use them. There was also no staff on hand to clean them such that one of the agents had to personally get rid of the towels and hastily make one fitting enough for me to use.
As I mentioned, the shower rooms were spacious but it lacked benches or stools for luggage and to sit on. Fortunately, the showers are great to use and I was able to clean and refresh myself before another long haul red-eye flight.
It was around dinner time after I showered and thus I proceed to the dining area which is just beside the shower rooms.
The food sadly was quite lacking in terms of presentation or quality. Vegetarian pho was one of the choices of food. It is a new low because it’s basically just broth, vermicelli and bean sprouts with condiments. Just a feedback to Air Canada’s management, Vietnamese pho taste best with some beef slices, and Toronto has one of the best pho outlet in North America, so maybe you need to learn from them instead of serving food that will just go to waste.
Aside from the pho, there was a range of salads, chips and variety of dips, along with a selection of pastas, and the pasta for that day happens to be raviolis.
In the end I just had some raviolis for the light dinner as I thought I could dine later during the flight. After all I am seated in Business Class.
Anyway while having dinner in the lounge, I noticed a celebrity seated opposite me. For those of you who do not recognize him, he plays a major role in ‘Life of Pi’ and recently in the movie ‘Jurassic World’.
I happen to notice him because he is probably one of the most well dressed in the lounge and appears to be very stylish. Turns out he is on the same flight as me onboard LOT bound for Warsaw.
With my stomach partially filled, I continued to explore the rest of the lounge. The lounge is basically split into 2 sides, with a tiered seating lounge and dining space on one side and a larger all-seating lounge on the other side, separated by a wood-panelled wall that also acts as a drinks counter and magazine rack.
There is also a long table for lounge guests to work on or just munch on snacks with a glass of beer. The usual suspects of beer supply are complimentary through the tap which is standard for Air Canada’s lounge.
At the end of the lounge near the shower area, there are 3 distinct spaces. One is a section with office-like cubicles for guests who needs to get work done, another is a small business centre that also functions as a space for VVIPs, and the last is a quiet corner with lounge chairs and also a space to wait for the shower rooms since there are only 2 in the whole lounge.
In general the lounge space nearer to the entrance is much brighter while the space gets dimmer as one goes towards the end. While there is a lot of space for guests, the food in the lounge is inadequate for what might be the flagship lounge for Air Canada. Though perhaps the domestic side has better food, as I noticed the domestic Maple Leaf Lounge in Vancouver has a better food selection that the transborder side of the Lounge. The whole lounge has a nice design and is quite functional in terms of requiring a space to sit down and have some drinks but as a flagship lounge it sure is lacking in amenities like proper food, more and better designed shower rooms and those other extras (themed areas, cigar lounges, massage chairs, etc.) that makes a flagship lounge great.