- Tended bar, private shower suites
- Mainly geared towards relaxation before a long flight
- Accessible to passengers flying with 20+ airlines
- Air conditioning not powerful enough during European summer
- Slow WiFi
- The only Star Alliance business class lounge at Heathrow T2 with barista-made coffee
Air Canada's Maple Leaf Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 2 pairs barista-made coffee and bartender service with a relaxing space to await your Star Alliance flight – but how does the rest of the lounge stack up for business class passengers?
Australian Business Traveller puts the airline's flagship United Kingdom lounge through its paces on a recent journey through The Queen's Terminal.
Location & Impressions
You'll find Air Canada's Maple Leaf Lounge near Terminal 2's B Gates, which is a bit of a hike from check-in and security...
... and at the end of that very long walk, keep your eyes peeled for this small doorway:
Enter, take the lift upstairs, and you'll find both the Air Canada and Singapore Airlines lounges...
... with Air Canada to the left:
Once inside, there's plenty of natural light...
... primarily observed in the lounges main area, combining a variety of seating...
... with tarmac views around Terminal 2: the home of Star Alliance airlines at Heathrow.
Exploring the lounge further, there's a model Boeing 787 on display in the middle of the relaxation space – its position here feels a bit random, however...
... and there's also a dining area with bench seating and individual tables back closer to reception:
There's no forgetting which airline operates this lounge, with Air Canada's maple leaf logo emblazoned into the maple wood panelling...
... with the lounge opening from 6am until 10pm daily.
- Business class passengers of Air Canada and other Star Alliance airlines departing from Heathrow T2, a roster that currently includes Aegean, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, SWISS, TAP Air Portugal, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines and United, and from late October 2018, Shenzhen Airlines.
- Air Canada Premium Rouge (premium economy) flyers, and from time to time, travellers booked on selected economy fares, when access is purchased online before their journey as part of their reservation (access can not be paid at the door).
- Air Canada Altitude Elite 50K, Elite 75K and Super Elite 100K members prior to Star Alliance flights.
- Other Star Alliance Gold members and United Club members prior to Star Alliance flights.
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Club North America Plus & Worldwide cardholders prior to Star Alliance flights.
- Selected American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve, Platinum and Corporate Platinum cardholders prior to Air Canada flights (not available with any Australian-issued cards).
- Selected Canadian TD and CIBC Aeroplan-affiliated cardholders using a one-time guest access pass when flying with Air Canada on a flight booked using Aeroplan miles.
Although access can't be purchased outright at the door by solo flyers, many travellers can pay a £25 (A$45.70) fee at reception to bring in an additional guest over and above their normal allowance. For example, Star Alliance Gold members are entitled to one complimentary guest: so if travelling with two 'plus ones', the first is free to bring inside, and the second can be admitted for a £25 charge.
Separately, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and United operate their own lounges at Heathrow Terminal 2 which welcome many of their same guests.
Before we go any further, for Australian travellers, the biggest upside to visiting the Air Canada lounge over any of the other Star Alliance facilities in T2 will be the presence of barista-made coffee – something lacking in the nearby Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and United Club lounges:
This can be ordered from the tended bar, which, among the various spirits, wines and beers on offer, was also pouring the 2016 Limited Edition Camus VSOP Borderies Cognac...
... which, as goes without saying, needed to be sampled:
The adjacent buffet offered a variety of other non-alcoholic drinks and also machine-made coffee, if you're in a rush...
... progressing through to light snacks and nibbles...
... meats, cheese and salad ingredients, nearby a sandwich press...
... where the staff will happily serve you a made-to-order panini, but keeping with the buffet, there's a wide variety of fresh salads, sandwiches, rolls and other cheeses:
In the hot food stakes, a green pea and mint soup, farfalle pasta with a tomato provencal sauce, mini beetroot pastries...
... an asparagus and pea quiche, and glazed skewers:
There's seating nearby where you can enjoy your drinks and snacks...
... although they're easily carried to the general area where the rest of the seats are located.
Remember the maple leaf wood panelling from earlier? Tucked behind this is a small business area with a couple of PCs, but mainly offering working benches for setting up your own devices...
... and access to power, although you'll still find UK-style AC outlets elsewhere, so you're not tied to the business area if you'd like to recharge.
We'd like to see extra power points here, however: especially more around the comfier seats near the model plane, which don't all have convenient power access.
Also, while Air Canada may win at the 'barista coffee' stakes, I found the WiFi here the slowest among T2's Star Alliance lounges, having visited all of them on the same day – the fastest speeds I measured in the Maple Leaf Lounge were 2.88Mbps for downloads, slower than most home-grade ADSL connections, and 1Mbps on uploads, which isn't terribly swift, and that's when the lounge was quiet.
By comparison, the Singapore Airlines lounges next door provided download speeds of 8-16 Mbps and uploads of 2-3Mbps; the Lufthansa lounges came in at 15-21Mbps on download and 5-7Mbps for uploads; and the United lounges beamed through downloads of 34-55Mbps and uploads of 32-71Mbps, all measured on the same day, so if you need to download or send some large files before your international flight, you'll get this done much faster in one of these other lounges, if you have access.
Other than the business nook and dining room, the rest of the lounge is given over to relaxing and unwinding before your flight...
... and if you venture down the far end of the lounge, you'll uncover a small quiet zone, with solitary chairs facing the windows...
... some communal-style seating, but which could equally each house just one traveller with their bag...
... and behind that, a few TV viewing suites with daybeds. Private shower suites are available too.
Overall, a relatively chilled space in which to await your flight, but I mean that figuratively, rather than literally – because during my mid-afternoon visit as the sun was beaming in, the air conditioning struggled to keep up, and although it was European summertime and a particularly warm day at that, the lounge still proved uncomfortably hot until later in the day.
Many used plates and glasses also remained scattered throughout the space long after the guests using them had left: in some cases for up to an hour, making it difficult to choose a seat, because you don't know whether somebody has just nipped away for a moment and is coming back, or whether that space is available if you relocate the tableware.
During the European winter – the Australian summer, when lots of Aussies trek to London over the Christmas/New Year break – the lounge would be a much more comfortable place weather-wise, when a warming barista coffee is just the ticket.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to London as a guest of Star Alliance and Air Canada.