Rewards Canada's Guide to Business Class Lounge Access

Last Updated on March 14, 2022
First posted on October 10, 2013

The ultimate guide to accessing business class lounges for Canadians!

Guide to business class lounges

Having elite status with an airline frequent flyer program or flying in business or first class can almost always guarantee you access to the typically quiet and good-for-the-soul business class lounges at airports across the globe. What if you don’t have elite status or never fly in a premium cabin? Can you still access business class lounges? The answer is yes, absolutely you can! If you have followed Rewards Canada even for just a little while you would already have known that answer but here we help you out along with all the newbies on how to take advantage of the various methods of using Business Class lounges to get you out of the hustle and bustle of many busy airports in Canada and around the world.

The Rewards Canada Guide to Business Class Lounge access is broken down into the following sections

TIP: Be sure to check out Rewards Canada's Special Offers below for LoungePair and Priority Pass!


Canadian Loyalty Programs

 Single Entry Options


Unbeknownst to a lot of Canadian travelers is the fact that you can walk right up to many third party lounges (those that are not owned or run by airlines) and pay to access that lounge for a single visit. The fees tend to be reasonable and access is usually granted for 2 to 3 hours. The two primary providers of lounges in Canada are Plaza Premium and Swissport (formerly Servisair) You can also buy access to these lounges and more via WestJet, Lounge Pass or you can use an app called LoungeBuddy to buy access to select lounges as well. Of course many of these single entry lounge options are also covered by the annual lounge access programs and credit cards that are listed further below in this feature.

Plaza Premium

Plaza Premium has over a dozen lounges across Canada in Edmonton (2), Montreal (1), Toronto (6 + 1 Spa), Vancouver (4) and WInnipeg (1) They also have lounges in over 25 countries around the world. Costs for Plaza Premium Lounges in Canada are roughly US$40 for 2 hours, US$48 for 3 hours and US$64 for 6 hours. It does vary slightly per lounge. Children aged 2-11 enjoy a 30% discount. Click here to see all their lounges and/to buy one time passes to them.

Tip: Sometimes you can purchase single entry passes for Plaza Premium via Dragon Pass with prices lower than Plaza Premium themselves.

Plaza Premium also various lounge passes that allows you to buy 2, 4 or 6. visit passes with a discount including a new Americas Pass which is perfect for Canadian lounges. The Americas Pass costs US$59 for two visits, which is $16 less than the global lounge two visit pass. Use promo code SPRING10​ you can save an additional 10% off any of the passes (Code valid until April 17, 22)

Americas Pass: Click here for more details and/or to buy this pass

Global Pass: Click here to learn more and/or to purchase these Lounge Passes

Plaza Premium also has a loyalty program called Smart Traveller that awards you with points one each visit - even if that visit is using access programs like Priority Pass, an airline's business/first class ticket, or any other program listed below that has Plaza Premium lounges participating. So it really is a no brainer to join the program! You will earn anywhere from 100 to 300 points on each lounge visit and require 2,500 to 4,200 points to redeem for a lounge visit. There are also other redemption options like food and drinks, airport meet & greet and more. Note that the program does have 12 month inactivity rule in place. Learn more about the Smart Traveller program here.

Website: www.plazapremiumlounge.com

Plaza Premium Drink

You can redeem points for a fancy cocktail in Toronto!


Executive Lounges by Swissport

Swissport runs four lounges in Canada: the Transborder and International Aspire lounges in Calgary, the Aspire Lounge in Ottawa along with the Montreal Airport Swissport lounge. Outside of Canada they operate 52 lounges in the U.K., U.S., Jamaica, Europe, Dubai, Africa, and Australia. Lounge access rates via Swissports website for their Canadian locations vary by location and date and time but range around the $50 mark. You can also join their loyalty program Aspire Rewards for free however it only works at their UK locations.

Website: www.executivelounges.com

No1 Lounges

No1 Lounges is another UK based lounge provider who offer 13 locations in the U.K. At the time of the last update they did not have any lounges in Canada. You can access No1 lounges with programs like Diners Club, Dragonpass, LoungeKey, Lounge Club, Lounge Pass and Priority Pass. Some airlines also use them as their lounges if you are flying in business or first class. You can also purchase access directly from No1 lounges either online or right at the lounge.

Website: no1lounges.com

WestJet Lounges

WestJet currently only has one of their own lounges in Calgary (YYC) in the domestic departures area of Concourse B. This is their outstanding flagship lounge that opened up in late 2020. It is the first of nine rumoured WestJet lounges that will be opened up in Canada and Europe.

Recommended reading: WestJet's flagship Elevation Lounge set to open on November 2 in Calgary

For the time being WestJet also runs a ‘lounge’ program that provides access to select Plaza Premium and Swissport lounges across Canada as well as a couple of other lounges in Quebec, London UK, Dublin Ireland, Paris France and Jamaica. You can book single entry visits for most of the lounges online or present your WestJet boarding pass along with payment right at the lounge. Prices vary depending on the lounge and the time of day you visit. For some lounges this is cheaper than the walk up rate.

Website: www.westjet.com/en-ca/airport/lounges

Lounge Pass

Lounge Pass is run by the same company that owns Priority Pass (see below in the 3rd party access programs) and offers single entry options to over 600 lounges in over 100 countries. Lounge Pass is in place so you don't have to buy a Priority Pass membership or have a credit card that offers the membership. In Canada they provide access to lounges in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Their pricing of starts at US$30 for the Canadian lounges. They do have access to some lounges that the others don't such as the Air France KLM lounge in Toronto Pearson's Terminal 3.

Website: www.loungepass.com

Lounge Buddy

Want to find lounges that offer single entry options? An app launched a few years ago called Lounge Buddy can help. The app has grown over time and even now allows you to buy single entries into select lounges around the globe. Here in Canada you can use the app to pay for access to Plaza Premium Lounges in Toronto and Vancouver. At time of publishing LoungeBuddy's rates started at C$46 for entry into any of their available Canadian locations. The app also lets you know which third party programs or credit card lounge access options can be used to access lounges.

Website: www.loungebuddy.com

LoungePair

Rewards Canada Special Offer! See below

Want to see if you can access a lounge cheaper than the rates being asked for directly from the lounges? Try out LoungePair, a relatively new service that allows you to submit a bid price to access a lounge and then you wait to see if the lounge accepts your bid. Up until recently LoungePair only had lounges in Australia & New Zealand but they have expanded globally which includes over 15 lounges in Canada.

SPECIAL OFFER - Rewards Canada has partnered with LoungePair to offer a special discount of $10 on your first successful bid made with LoungePair. Click here to sign up for the special offer!

Website: app.loungepair.com






Canadian Loyalty Programs

  Third Party Annual Lounge Access Programs

 

Priority Pass

Rewards Canada Partner - See discount offer below

The most famous and largest of all lounge programs, Priority Pass has been around for many years and offers access to over 1,300 lounges all over the world. They are also the most aggressive in adding new lounges with a few new lounges being added each month. Priority Pass requires users to purchase an annual membership and depending on the level of membership that you buy you may or may not have to pay an entry fee each time you enter a Priority Pass lounge. The fee tends to be less than the walk up rate for lounges that provide that option. There are many credit cards in Canada that provide the Priority Pass program as part of the benefits and will cover the annual cost along with providing some free lounge visits or in the case of the American Express Platinum Card provides unlimited access. You can see those listed below in the credit card section. Priority Pass has also expanded beyond lounges by adding airport restaurants where you can get a dining credit at! Most are in the U.S. and you'll find them listed on the Priority Pass website.

Priority Pass and Plaza Premium Update:

Do note that Priority Pass lost access to all Canadian Plaza Premium lounges and quite a few others worldwide so do take this into consideration for your lounge access needs. That is if you are cities like Edmonton and Winnipeg you have no lounge access at all with Priority Pass.

Recommended reading: Sorry for the bad news - It is now confirmed that Canadian Plaza Premium lounges are leaving Priority Pass & LoungeKey

The three levels of membership that Priority Pass provides are as follows

Rewards Canada Limited Time Special Offer - Up to 50% off

Standard Membership – full annual fee US$99 On sale right now for US$49
Standard membership provides access to over 950 airport VIP lounges at a cost of US$32 per person per visit. The members designated payment card is charged by Priority Pass with the lounge visit fee following a visit. Guests are charged US$32 per visit.

Standard Plus Membership – full annual fee US$299 On sale right now for US$194
Standard Plus membership includes 10 free visits for the member and additional member visits are charged at US$32 per visit. Guests are charged US$32 per visit.

Prestige Membership – full annual fee US$429
Prestige membership Includes unlimited lounge visits for the member. Guests are charged US$32 per visit.

Click here to access this limited time offer providing up to 50% off

REWARDS CANADA ONGOING OFFER! Rewards Canada is partnered with Priority Pass and for this feature we are pleased to provide our readers the following discounts on their annual memberships:

Priority Pass Pricing

 

Standard Membership – full annual fee US$99
Special offer – 20% discount on first year membership – US$79

Standard Plus Membership – full annual fee US$299
Special offer – 10% discount on first year membership – US$269

Prestige Membership – full annual fee US$429
Special offer – 10% discount on first year membership – US$386

Click here to access this special offer for Rewards Canada readers

Swissport

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic Swissport has temporarily discontinued the sale of annual passes.

Swissport has an annual pass for ~C$440 (or C$680 for Platinum version) that provides you with unlimited free access to any participating Aspire or Swissport Lounges in the UK, Canada, Denmark and The Netherlands. The annual pass includes bringing in 1 guest for free. Most other annual programs, the guest(s) have to pay the entry free. It also comes with LoungeMiles, their loyalty program that rewards you with a gift voucher for every 5 lounge visits.

Website: www.executivelounges.com

Dragonpass

Dragonpass is similar to Priority Pass in numbers of lounges and the passes the provide especially so now as they inked a deal with Plaza Premium. This is the pass you want if you want to discounted or unlimited access to Canadian Plaza Premium lounges. Their website states they have over 1,300 lounges participating which is the same as what Priority Pass advertises. Their pricing is even very similar to Priority Pass.

Tip: Sometimes you can purchase single entry passes for Plaza Premium via Dragon Pass with prices lower than Plaza Premium themselves!

The three levels of membership that Dragonpass provides are as follows

Preferential Membership – full annual fee US$99
Preferential Membership includes 1 visit up front. Additional visits are charged at a cost of US$31 per person per visit. Guests are charged US$31 per visit.

Preferential Membership – full annual fee US$219
Preferential Membership includes 8 visits up front. Additional visits are charged at US$31 per visit. Guests are charged US$31 per visit.

Prestige Membership – full annual fee US$399
Prestige membership Includes unlimited lounge visits for the member. Guests are charged US$31 per visit.

Website: en.dragonpass.com.cn

Dragonpass Pricing







Canadian Loyalty Programs

 Credit Cards with lounge access

 

Credit Cards can be a great way to gain access to many lounges in Canada and beyond. The majority don’t have their own programs per se but provide free membership into the Priority Pass program as mentioned above or if it is a Mastercard they have Mastercard Airport Experiences by LoungeKey. The cards that do have their own access programs or tie into separate ones are The Platinum Card from American Express and the Diners Club Club Rewards Mastercard.

Credit Card The Platinum Card from American Express

Platinum Card Lounge Acccess

 

This is the Mack daddy card of lounge access with many different options providing access to over 1,200 business class lounges in over 130 countries around the world. The lounge access benefits for the Platinum Card are as follows

  • Canadian Platinum Lounge benefit: Free of charge access for the cardmember + Spouse and 2 children or one guest participating lounges in Canada. Those lounges are Executive Lounges by Swiss port and Québec City ’s Jean Lesage International Airport VIP Lounge
  • Access to Delta Sky Clubs for no charge for the cardmember who are holding an Delta flight boarding pass. Additional guests must pay an entrance fee
  • Access to American Express Centurion lounges and Centurion Studio lounges for the cardholder and 2 Guests
  • International American Express Lounges: Cardmembers have complimentary access to American Express Lounge locations and eligible guests (guest access varies by location)
  • Plaza Premium Lounges: Cardmembers have complimentary access to Plaza Premium Lounges along with one guest
  • Priority Pass Prestige Membership with one guest included per lounge visit. All additional guests are US$32 (see Priority Pass above)
  • Airspace lounges: Cardmembers have complimentary access along with 2 Guests
  • Escape lounges: Cardmembers have complimentary access along with 2 Guests

The lounge access is good for not only the primary cardholder but also for additional/supplementary Platinum Cards.

Click here to learn more and/or to apply for The Platinum Card from American Express

Tip: Use Amex's Lounge search to see which lounges you can access with the Platinum Card.

Credit Card Diners Club Club Rewards Mastercard

Diners Club Lounge Access

 

This card has the largest lounge access program out of all the cards that they can call their own. Many years ago it dwindled from around 350 lounges to less than 150 worldwide as Diners Club went through changes in ownership. Now that those changes have taken place the program is stronger than ever with over 1,000 lounges available to cardholders including 8 in Canada as Diners Club also lost access to Plaza Premium lounges. However Diners Club now provides dining credits at airport restaurants just like Priority Pass including 5 airport restaurants in Canada. I still have this card even though I have been using the Amex Platinum Card for lounge access but now that restaurants have been added I'll definitely utilize that option as well! Unfortunately if you do not currently hold this card you cannot apply for it. BMO bought the rights to the brand in Canada and the U.S. and stopped accepting applications for it while they made their transition it from Citibank. I have been told by BMO that there are no plans to open up the personal card for applications. Boo!! To see what lounges are covered by Diners Club you can visit their Airport Lounge Locator or download the Diners Club app for your smartphone.

Click here to learn more about the Diners Club Club Rewards Mastercard

Credit Card American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card

As an Air Canada Aeroplan Ultra Premium co-brand credit card it provides access for the primary cardholder to Air Canada's Maple Leaf lounges in Canada and the United States. The card also provides free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above)

Click here to learn more about the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Credit Card

Credit Card American Express Gold Rewards Card

This card doesn’t have its own lounge program but provides free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above) plus four free Plaza Premium lounge visits.

Click here to learn more about the American Express Gold Rewards Card

Credit Card American Express Air Miles Reserve Credit Card

This card doesn’t have its own lounge program but provides free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above) plus four free Priority Pass lounge visits.

Click here to learn more about the American Express Air Miles Reserve Credit Card

Credit Card BMO Rewards World Elite Mastercard

This card doesn’t have its own lounge program but provides free membership into the Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey plus four free lounge visits. LoungeKey works like Priority Pass in that it is annaul membership whereby you get discounted access to over 1,300 lounges and airport restaurants Worldwide. Learn more about LoungeKey here.

Click here to learn more about BMO Rewards World Elite Mastercard

Credit Card BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege Card

This card doesn’t have its own lounge program but provides free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above) plus six free Priority Pass lounge visits. Each additional cardholder also receive 6 free visits per year.

Update: As part of Priority Pass losing access to Plaza Premium lounges select Canadian Visa cards receive limited time Plaza Premium business class lounge access. This is available until June 30, 2022. Learn more here

Click here to learn more about BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege Card

Credit Card CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite, Infinite Privilege and Gold Cards

These cards don’t have their own lounge program but provide free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above) plus four free Priority Pass lounge visits for the Infinite and Gold cards, 6 visits for the Infinite Privilege

Update: As part of Priority Pass losing access to Plaza Premium lounges select Canadian Visa cards receive limited time Plaza Premium business class lounge access. This is available until June 30, 2022. Learn more here

Click here to learn more about the CIBC cards

Credit Card CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Cards

As an Air Canada Aeroplan Ultra Premium co-brand credit card it provides access for the primary cardholder to Air Canada's Maple Leaf lounges in Canada and the United States. The card also provides free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above) plus six free Priority Pass lounge visits.

Update: As part of Priority Pass losing access to Plaza Premium lounges select Canadian Visa cards receive limited time Plaza Premium business class lounge access. This is available until June 30, 2022. Learn more here

Click here to learn more about the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege card

Credit Card Desjardins Odyssey World Elite Mastercard / Oydssey Visa Infinite Privilege

These cards don’t have their own lounge program but provide free passes to the Desjardins Odyssey Lounge at Montréal-Trudeau Airport. The World Elite Mastercard gets 8 visits while the Visa Infinite Privilege gets 12. The World Elite card also provides free membership into the Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey. LoungeKey works like Priority Pass in that it is annaul membership whereby you get discounted access to over 1,300 lounges and airport restaurants Worldwide. Learn more about LoungeKey here.

Update: As part of Priority Pass losing access to Plaza Premium lounges select Canadian Visa cards receive limited time Plaza Premium business class lounge access. This is available until June 30, 2022. Learn more here

Click here to learn more about the Desjardins cards

Credit Card HSBC World Elite Mastercard

This card doesn’t have its own lounge program but provides free membership into the Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey. LoungeKey works like Priority Pass in that it is annaul membership whereby you get discounted access to over 1,300 lounges and airport restaurants Worldwide. Learn more about LoungeKey here.

Click here to learn more about the HSBC World Elite Mastercard

Credit Card National Bank World & World Elite Mastercard

The NBC World & World Elite Mastercards provides free access to the National Bank World Mastercard Lounge at Montreal-Trudeau airport. The card also receive free membership into the Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey. LoungeKey works like Priority Pass in that it is annaul membership whereby you get discounted access to over 1,300 lounges and airport restaurants Worldwide. Learn more about LoungeKey here.

Click here to learn more about the National Bank World & World Elite Mastercards

Credit Card RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege

This card doesn’t have its own lounge program but provides free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above) plus six free Priority Pass lounge visits.

Update: As part of Priority Pass losing access to Plaza Premium lounges select Canadian Visa cards receive limited time Plaza Premium business class lounge access. This is available until June 30, 2022. Learn more here

Click here to learn more about the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege

Credit Card Scotiabank American Express Platinum Card

This card doesn’t have its own lounge program but provides free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above) plus ten free Priority Pass lounge visits.

Click here to learn more about the Scotiabank American Express Platinum Card

Credit Card Scotia Passport Visa Infinite Card

This card doesn’t have its own lounge program but provides free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above) plus six free Priority Pass lounge visits.

Update: As part of Priority Pass losing access to Plaza Premium lounges select Canadian Visa cards receive limited time Plaza Premium business class lounge access. This is available until June 30, 2022. Learn more here

Click here to learn more about Scotia Passport Visa Infinite Card

Credit Card TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card

As an Air Canada Aeroplan Ultra Premium co-brand credit card it provides access for the primary cardholder to Air Canada's Maple Leaf lounges in Canada and the United States. The card also provides free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above) plus six free Priority Pass lounge visits.

Update: As part of Priority Pass losing access to Plaza Premium lounges select Canadian Visa cards receive limited time Plaza Premium business class lounge access. This is available until June 30, 2022. Learn more here

Click here to learn more about the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card.

Credit Card Vancity enviro Visa Infinite Card / Vancity enviro Visa Infinite Privilege Card

These cards don’t have their own lounge program but both cards provide free membership into the Priority Pass program (see above). The Infinite Privilege version does offer six free Priority Pass lounge visits as well.

Update: As part of Priority Pass losing access to Plaza Premium lounges select Canadian Visa cards receive limited time Plaza Premium business class lounge access. This is available until June 30, 2022. Learn more here

Click here to learn more about the Vancity enviro Visa Infinite Card here and the Vancity enviro Visa Infinite Privilege Card here.

Credit Card WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard

This card doesn’t have its own lounge program but provides free membership into the LoungeKey program. LoungeKey works like Priority Pass in that it is annaul membership whereby you get discounted access to over 1,300 lounges and airport restaurants Worldwide. Learn more about LoungeKey here.

Click here to learn more about WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard

Credit Card Other card options

All Canadian World and World Elite Mastercards receive free membership into the LoungeKey program so any not liste above also have this benefit. LoungeKey works like Priority Pass in that it is annaul membership whereby you get discounted access to over 1,300 lounges and airport restaurants Worldwide. Learn more about LoungeKey here.

Several cards like the Scotiabank American Express Gold Card and TD Travel Visas provide discounted annual membership to Priority Pass.

Canadian Loyalty Programs

 Airline Lounge Access Programs

 

Finally airlines sell access to their own lounges via annual membership offers. Most do have the requirement that you are traveling with them or one of their partner airlines to be able to access the lounges however.

We only provide information on several of the larger North American airlines here but you can always check out other airlines to see if they offer similar programs.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Club

Maple Leaf Lounge Acccess

 

Air Canada’s annual lounge access program is called the Maple Leaf Club and offers three different access levels

Update: Sales of Maple Leaf Club memberships are termporarily suspended due to COVID-19

Canada - $375 per year (Single Traveller) or $550 per year (Traveller + Spouse) and provides access to 16 lounges in Canada only

North America Plus - $495 per year (Single Traveller) or $730 per year (Traveller + Spouse) and provides access to over 60 lounges in Canada, the U.S. and Europe

Worldwide - $665 per year (Single Traveller) or $970 per year (Traveller + Spouse) and provides access to over 210 lounges Worldwide and also provides complimentary access to one guest.

All Maple Leaf Club memberships also provide access to Air Canada's Executive First® / Executive Class® Priority Check-in counters.

Website: www.mapleleafclub.ca

Alaska Airlines Lounge Membership

Alaska Lounge Access

There are two options that Alaska Airlines has for sale. The first gets, Alaska Lounge membership gets you access to eight Alaska Airlines lounges in Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, New York JFK and San Francisco. The second option, Alaska Lounge+ membership also provides you access to over 90 affiliated lounges worldwide. Here are the new membership rates (in USD):


If you’re just passing through, you may buy a One-Day pass for $50 (USD) and it will allow you to visit any of the Alaska Airlines Lounge locations.

Website: www.alaskaair.com/content/airport-lounge.aspx

American Airlines Admirals Club

American Admirals Club membership provides access to nearly 90 worldwide Admirals Club and partner lounge locations. You can buy day passes at US$59 each to access Admirals Clubs as well. You an also use AAdvantage miles to pay for memberships. Current pricing of annual pass memberships is as follow (in USD):


Website: www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/clubs/admirals-club-membership.jsp

Delta SkyClub

Delta SkyClub annual membership gives you access to over 250 lounges around the world. Current pricing on annual memberships are as follows:

Executive Membership Includes unlimited Club access for the member and up to two guests per visit. One-Year Rate: US$845.00, 84,500 miles or $75.00 for 12 monthly installments.

Individual Membership Includes unlimited Club access for the member only. Individual Members may bring up to two guests to the Club at the rate of US$39.00 per guest per visit. One-Year Rate: US$545.00, 54,500 miles or $50.00 for 12 monthly installments.*

Website: www.delta.com/us/en/delta-sky-club/overview

United Club

United Club annual membership provides access to over 45 United Clubs Worldwide. They also sell single day access passes for $59. Current pricing of annual pass memberships is as follow (in USD):

 

Website: www.united.com/web/en-US/content/travel/airport/lounge/default.aspx

There you go. Now you know most of the ways to get access to business class lounges without being an elite level frequent flyer or flying in first or business class.

 

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