From Vancouver, I made my way back to Los Angeles where I would board the return flight to Shanghai via Delta ONE Suites on the A350. To get to Los Angeles, I reserved a ticket on United Airlines and since I have reviewed a similar flight before and the experience was somewhat similar, I would skip it. Instead I would cover the check-in experience in Vancouver and Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Transborder lounge which I have visited several times but have not covered in a review. Vancouver airport terminal actually has 3 separate post-security area; one for International flights, one for domestic flights and another one for Transborder (between Canada and the United States where immigration takes place in Canada side and the plane arrives as a domestic flight in United States). Thus Air Canada has 3 lounges as well in each section of the terminal.
Check-in for transborder flights is in the first section of the concourse upon reaching the airport. It is also closest to the Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel drop off area. For the afternoon flight, there was no queue in the United counter and I was served immediately. After getting my boarding pass, I had to bring my ski bag to the odd-size baggage section to drop it off.
Vancouver Airport remains one of the nicest in North America for allowing plenty of natural light into the terminal. That and the First Nations artwork inside the terminal made for a pleasant departure experience. Queues for security and immigration that day was also surprisingly short so I was through both in about 15 minutes sparing me plenty of time to do some souvenir shopping before heading to the Maple Leaf lounge.
Being Star Alliance partners, United passengers in domestic First class gains access to the Air Canada operated Maple Leaf lounge. The lounge is located near gates E84/E85 with an unmanned elevator that guests would need to take to reach the second floor where the lounge is at.
A reception counter greets guests on the second floor with a model of Air Canada’s 787 by the elevator. There is access via the stairs as well and across from the reception there was a shelf stocked with newspapers with a departure information board next to it.
Turning left from the foyer will lead guests to an area where there are hangers for guests to hang their winter coats. The restrooms are also found in this area along with one shower room that guests could request to use.
Right by the entryway there was some seating by the windows with a ledge acting as a bar table. There was the same mobile phone charging station that I noticed in the Maple Leaf lounge at Los Angeles. On the left there was a section that is furthest away from the buffet and thus it would be quieter for guests who did not need food and drinks and just wanted a space to chill. At the left end of the lounge there was some workstation cubicles for those who need to print some documents.
On the right side was the main section of the lounge space and the armchairs are a sombre hue of black and blue. Fortunately some green plants and the wooden panelling and partitions broke down the monotony.
Facilities in the Lounge
By the wall at the end of the central lounge space there was a large flatscreen TV with several recliner chairs facing it. This seems to be a TV lounge of sorts and the seating looks to be the most comfortable for long layovers.
Next to the TV section, there was a circular room with a glass door that contains the meeting room space. There was seating for 4 with power outlets in the table for groups who needs to discuss work during the layover.
On the other side of the wall, there was a section of lounge with notices for guests to leave their phones in silent mode or turned off if they wished to use the space. This section is meant to be a quiet zone in the lounge.
Food and Beverage in the Lounge
Sectioned off by the wooden panelling was the buffet and dining space. There was a main buffet island console where most of the food was to be found.
One side of the buffet contains dry foodstuffs like flatbread, nachos and cookies. There was sour cream and salsa served as dips for the flatbread and nachos.
The other side of the buffet hosted a salad bar that has a choice of potato salad, quinoa tabbouleh salad and edamame.
Bread with assorted condiments was placed next to the salad choices along with two pots of soup. Choices for the day was between minestrone and Thai chicken curry.
For beverages, there was a Lavazza coffee machine that dispenses espresso and cappuccino. It seems Air Canada has some sort of tie-up with them as the Maple Leaf lounges seems to use this brand of coffee.
There was also filtered and citrus infused water since the water in Vancouver is so clean that bottled ones are not necessary.
Coors Light was the beer available on tap and there was a selection of red wines on the bar along with some pretzel snacks from the jar. Previously they used to offer packets of pretzels.
Other liquors were also available on the console with condiments and mixers provided in the bar.
White wines and other soft drinks are available from the fridge along the console. However the fridge does not have a transparent glass window so some guests might not spot it immediately.
Next to the buffet space was the dining area which has communal seating and a variety of seating for couples or groups of 4. Unlike the armchairs in the main lounge, the dining chairs are upholstered in red.
At the end of the dining area there was some armchairs for casual dining and a shelf filled with magazines. On my several visits here, they usually have a relatively good variety of magazines available compared to other North American lounges.
While I did not take any new photos as the curtains was rolled down due to the sun, the lounge did have some nice views facing the tarmac from the main lounge while the dining space overlooks the departure hall.
Compared to my past visits, there was a decent amount of food in the lounge for a light lunch. There was also some upgrades to the facility like the addition of recliners for watching TV in comfort and a new and fancier coffee machine. It was quiet during my visit so that makes for a pleasant experience overall though the lounge furniture was showing its age compared to newer and sleeker lounges.