Jan 28, 2024
Air Canada operates a Maple Leaf Lounge in each of Montreal Trudeau International Airport’s (YUL) three main terminals – international, domestic, and transborder. This is a review of my various visits to the location in the Transborder Terminal which serves US bound passengers after passport pre-clearance. While I have explored the lovely city of Montreal several times, my most recent visit to this club was on a connection from Europe. I am happy to report that the transfer from an international arrival to US passport control was rather seamless, and I was able to relax at the MLL before my flight home to Los Angeles.
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This Maple Leaf Lounge is located near gate 73 in the Transborder Terminal, a short walk after your exit from US pre-clearance with the Customs and Border Protection. The easiest way to spot the club is to keep an eye out for the large gates “56 – 73” sign as shown in the picture above. After entering the automatic sliding doors, you could take either the stairs or the elevator to go upstairs.
Hours as of this writing are 5:15am – 7:30pm daily, except on Saturday when it opens at 4:30am.
The rules governing access to exclusive airport clubs are complicated so I will not go into details. In general, Air Canada’s premium cabin customers – such as those flying in Business Class, Signature Class, and Premier Rouge – should have access to the Maple Leaf Lounge. Other passengers who are also eligible include AC’s elite frequent flyers, Star Alliance Gold members departing on a flight operated by a partner carrier, as well as Maple Leaf Club members.
As a side note, Air Canada’s Premium Economy passengers (including transatlantic or transpacific flights) are not eligible for MLL access. My entry on this particular trip was based solely on my Star Alliance Gold status.
For a complete list of the admission policies, please visit the airline’s website here.
The size of the facilities is not very large but is sufficient for the Transborder Terminal serving only US bound passengers. Its open space design gives the place an airy feeling the moment you walk in. Its huge and outward slanting floor-to-ceiling glass panels also create a bright and cheerful atmosphere for an airport lounge.
Some of the best seats in the house are certainly those by the windows, which provide a panoramic view of the tarmac and aircraft traffic. However, the shades have to lowered – at least partially – in some afternoons. I like the stylish sofas and chairs accompanied by cute coffee tables that reflect a contemporary design and give the place a touch of trendy elegance.
There are more of these nice chairs with coffee tables that are perfect for a foursome at the far end of the lounge. A long work bench equipped with both AC and USB charging outlets lines the tall and slanting floor-to-ceiling windows. Again, these windows face west so the shades are often lowered late in the afternoon. The work bench is accompanied by red highchairs like those from a diner, which further accentuates the trendy decor of the space.
In one section next to the buffet are dining tables that are set up with the look and feel of a cozy café. This is a very comfortable area to enjoy a light meal or even get some work done at the same time. The only downside to these tables is that there are no charging outlets available.
All Day Snacks
All of my visits were in various times in the afternoon and my observations were that the all-day snack offerings were pretty consistent throughout the day. The center table is where you get your plates and silverware as well as cups for coffee and tea. There are usually baskets of fruits and bowls of chips, pretzels, and other snacks. Toward one end of the table is a plastic covered container which hold slices of a variety of cakes.
The refrigerated section houses a salad bar with trays of vegetables, garnishes, and meats. My favorite is the pastrami which is peppery and flavorful and goes well with a glass of red wine or a good Pilsner beer.
The Montreal Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge always has a hot meat entrée on its menu, which is usually chicken. Shown above is an Asian favorite called General Tao chicken. This is somewhat like a variation of the wildly popular orange chicken. The meat is deep-fried so it has a crispy texture on the outside. The chicken is coated with a sauce that is sweet, tangy, and slightly spicy hot.
The sweet and tangy General Tao chicken goes very well with steamed rice. What was available the couple of times that I was there for lunch was a rice pilaf that was blended with lentil and that was quite good. This is a creative dish that is aromatic and slightly more chewy than plain rice.
Another typical hot entrée is a vegetarian pasta dish. Shown above is a large serving bowl filled with tri-color rotini tossed with garlic and sautéed rapini (broccoli rabe).
Shown above is one of my lunch plates which contains items mentioned in the above hot food menu.
Two soups are served daily – one of which is always vegetarian – and they rotate a variety of them. One of my favorites is Italian wedding that is loaded with plenty of escarole and mini meatballs. The vegetarian minestrone contains a good portion of diced veggies, green beans, and pasta shells. Both soups are rich in flavor and delicious.
All beverages are self-served. Selections of sodas are available from a fountain machine. There are also espresso machines which are easy to operate and they make some decent coffee drinks. It is also where you get your hot water for your teabags which are located on the same counter.
There are three beers on tap. I am pleased to report that they serve Molson Canadian which is the iconic beer of the country. To give the bar a touch of Montreal flavor, another beer on tap is the locally brewed Belle Gueule Pilsner. Last but not the least, dark beer fans will be delighted to see that there is Guinness on tap!
A good selection of wines awaits you on the counter next to the draft beer dispenser. Italian Valpolicella is a light red wine somewhat similar to pinot noir. Pinot Grigio, a light-bodied white wine, is also offered. Other varieties include a rosé and a sparkling wine.
As you can see from the picture above, there is a decent collection of liquors of all kinds and many of them are respectable brands. This is an impressive display of a self-served bar!
Although this Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in Montreal’s Transborder Terminal is not opulent or grand in any sense, I find it a comfortable and cozy haven away from the hustles and bustles of the airport. I actually like its simplistic, open-air, and contemporary design. I also enjoy its more relaxed and casual atmosphere. While the food offerings and menu are nothing fancy, they are adequate for a quick snack or a light meal before catching your flight – this is particularly convenient if you are connecting here at YUL. If you would like to have a couple of drinks, the self-served open bar provides plenty of decent options. This is also a relatively quiet place if you want to get some work done.