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India 2021 – List of Posts
Introduction: India 2021, equal measure of frustration and fascination
Review: Air Canada Signature Class, Montreal to New Delhi
Review: Vistara Business Class, New Delhi to Mumbai
10 Pics – An ode to Mum’s cooking, India
Review: Grand Hyatt Goa, India
COVID Testing in New Delhi, and airport sleeping pods
Review: Plaza Premium Lounge, New Delhi International
Review: Air Canada Signature Class, New Delhi to Toronto
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Montreal International YUL
As part of my trip to India, I was at Montreal (YUL) international airport to experience the inaugural Air Canada flight to New Delhi, AC 50, on Oct 31st, 2021. Few weeks before my trip I was extremely pleased to learn that the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal International was operational once again, for the first time since the pandemic closure.
Just past security in the international terminal, the lounge is located between gates 52 and 53. The main area of the lounge is located one floor above, and can only be accessed through the gates on terminal level. The main entrance, and lobby to the lounge are chic, albeit a little crammed just past the doors. I checked in at the welcome desk and took the slow elevator one floor up, since I was feeling particularly lazy that day, while most that did not want to wait on the elevators took the two flights of stairs.
The staircase and the elevators both open to a quiet, and elegantly lit seating area of the lounge. This part of the lounge felt more suited for travelers that were looking to escape hustle and bustle of the bar, and the bright lights of the lounge.
Merely a few steps away, I was greeted by the warm and welcoming tones of the main lounge area, including the very popular bar in the middle of the hall. The art work, and lounge design were unpretentious and stylish.
I settled into one of many seating areas, just past the bar. With distancing measures still in place, the furniture setup was well spaced out, and offered an inviting ambience for family and solo travelers alike. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most popular seating areas were along the floor-to-ceiling windows which offered sprawling views of the tarmac and flights parked at the gates.
I found the lounge to be moderately busy for a Sunday evening (8pm), where most people preferred to be seated in the middle of the lounge, while the seating areas towards the ends (including ‘quiet zones’) were almost empty.
I love any seating that allows me to peek out the window and look at the tarmac operations of an airport. I thought the lounge hit the balance between family friendly seating (by the window, facing each other) and individual pods for solo travelers quite well. The ‘Quiet Zone’ included individual pods directly facing the window/tarmac, which made for a relaxing experience. Relaxing enough that I forgot to take a picture 🙂
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal – Bar and Food
Given a choice, I would prefer a seat in the quiet zone, over a chair at the bar. That said, I must confess that it was absolutely brilliant to see strangers connect at the bar by exchanging their pandemic woes, and their rejuvenated travel excitement. A huge shoutout to the bartender who was not only engaging the customers in travel banter, but also eager to explain the origins of the drink, and condiments being used. The travel chatter around the bar definitely brought a smile under my masked face.
The Maple Leaf Lounge @ la table service was in full flow, where passengers can scan the QR code on each table and order directly from their seat. In addition to the popular snack items on the menu, there is always a couple of ‘Chef Specials’ that I like to explore.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time in the lounge to enjoy any of the specials. Honestly, I also did not want to ruin my appetite as I was close to boarding the 14 hour flight to India, and had been thinking about Chef Vij’s menbu onboard.
While the usual serving stations and food area of the lounge were closed, I was glad to see that both the Specials were on display at one of the counters;
- Chef Jerome Ferrer’s special snack was ‘Vitello Tonnato’, and was described as ‘Sliced Roast Veal in a rich tuna sauce served with parmesan arugula salad’
- Chef Antonio Park’s special snack was ‘Braised Pork Belly’, and was described as ‘Braised in soy sauce and served with crispy nugget potatoes’
And I was yet again reminded that advertising and real life often run in parallel worlds, especially when it comes to food pictures 🙂 That said, given how many were enjoying the Chef Specials, I must assume that the food tasted far, far better than it appeared (individual boxes).
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal is one of my favourite MLL lounges in Canada. In many years of visiting the lounge I have never found it to be as crowded as its counterparts in Toronto or Vancouver, and the food/drinks presentation is definitely superior, pandemic times included.
And just like that I had spent a relaxing hour in the lounge before boarding Air Canada’s inaugural flight from Montreal to Delhi, in Signature Class. Would there be media presentation before boarding, perhaps a celebrity to inaugurate the flight? Maybe a special gift for everyone onboard this inaugural flight? This, and lots more in my full review – coming soon!