Toronto-Pearson International Airport (YYZ) has three distinct areas: international, domestic and transborder. The transborder area is where all US-bound flights operate. When you enter each terminal (helpfully named Terminal 1 and Terminal 3), you head to one of these areas. Terminal 1 is home to Air Canada and its Star Alliance partners like United, Lufthansa, TAP Air Portugal, etc. Terminal 3 has all the OneWorld, SkyTeam and non-alliance airlines like Delta, WestJet, American, Qatar, Etihad, Emirates, etc.
I was flying Air Canada back to Atlanta from Terminal 1 on Sunday evening. I followed the signs to the US Transborder area and then entered the NEXUS/Global Entry section. These programs allow you to speed through US immigration. There are several airports around the world that have US Immigration on hand to essentially turn your international flight into a domestic flight. This avoids passing through immigration and customs on arrival to the US.
Security was quick and Global Entry took a few seconds. At this point, I was technically in the United States while standing in Toronto airport. I saw the sign for the nearby Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge and took the elevator up to the lounge entrance. The lounge was large but pretty crowded when I arrived around 5pm. My flight was scheduled for 7:15pm but had already been pushed back 45 minutes.
I had access to this lounge due to my business class ticket, but you can also gain access if you are Star Alliance Gold. The lounge had a decent food spread (better than the Montreal transborder lounge.) There was also a free-pour bar area, soft drinks and snacks.
After an hour or so, the lounge cleared out quite a bit. I was getting a bit antsy, so I decided to see if the Plaza Premium Lounge (accessible with my Capital One Venture X card) was still open. A Google search said it closed at 5pm, but it was open. It took a bit of finding as it’s not well-marked.
The lounge is very small, with a buffet, serviced bar, individual restrooms (2 male, 2 female and 1 for people with limited mobility), lounge-type seats and a dining area.
I sat at the bar and nibbled on a few things. The samosas were pretty good.
As I sat at the bar passing time, my flight got delayed again by another 1/2 hour. I decided to head to the gate around 15 minutes before scheduled boarding. It was quite a hike as there is a newish extension to the transborder gates. It looks a bit like a warehouse or a Costco with unfinished ceilings and prefab walls.
When I reached the gate, it became obvious that our flight would get delayed a bit further, but right next to gate F99 was…another lounge! It was a Maple Leaf Lounge Express, a mini Air Canada lounge serving these extension gates.
I stopped in to see what was on offer. They had a full self-service bar again (Canadians like their booze) and pre-packaged snacks and sandwiches.
My flight finally boarded around 8:15pm, but my night was about to get stranger. I’ll have more on this in my next post.
It’s nice that Toronto has several lounge options in the transborder area as once you enter it, you cannot get to other areas of the airport. If you are flying from Toronto back to the US, I recommend the Maple Leaf Lounge if you have access and then stopping by the Express lounge just before you board if you want to grab something to eat on board or drink something to steel your nerves before hopping on a tiny regional jet. The Plaza Premium Lounge is a good fallback if you have a Capital One Venture X card, but it’s a bit out of the way and not as nice as the Air Canada options.
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3 thoughts on “Toronto Transborder Lounge Hopping”
It’s a good thing you flew Air Canada home and not Delta from YYZ. The Delta transborder terminal is terrible. Many Canada airport transborder terminals are pretty bad. I had a project in Ottawa for 6 months. In the Ottawa airport, the Air Canada side and transborder side was separated by a glass wall. The AC side was plush the transborder side hadn’t been updated since 1957. There were only hard seats and a really bad concession stand selling stale hotdogs and popcorn.
Montreal had an OK lounge and a decent priority pass restaurant when we were there. Sorry to hear about Ottawa.