Friday,  July 19, 2019  5:06 pm

PAX On Location: Air Canada has opened its new Maple Leaf Lounge at LaGuardia

PAX On Location: Air Canada has opened its new Maple Leaf Lounge at LaGuardia
The LaGuardia Maple Leaf Lounge is officially open. From left: Mats Winter, director of product design for airport & in-flight services, Air Canada; Andrew Yiu, vp of product, Air Canada; Stewart Steeves, chief executive officer, LaGuardia Gateway Partners; Lysa Scully, general manager, LaGuardia Airport.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

A sparkling new concourse wasn’t the only thing that opened at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) this past weekend.

Last night (Dec 3), just one day after LGA opened a reimagined version of its Terminal B Eastern Concourse – phase one of a multi-billion dollar blueprint to update LaGuardia – Air Canada opened the doors to its newest Maple Leaf Lounge for an industry and media preview.

The bright and elegant space, which officially opened to the public today (Dec. 4) at 5:00 a.m., is the first airline lounge to open in LGA’s fresh new facility

Welcome to the new LaGuardia Maple Leaf Lounge, now open on Level Two at LGA's Terminal B concourse.

The new lounge is the third Maple Leaf Lounge Air Canada is operating in the U.S.

An important market

“It was very important for us to have lounge in the new concourse – LaGuardia being such an important market,” Mats Winter, director of product design for airport and in-flight services at Air Canada, told PAX at last night’s event.

Air Canada operates hourly flights to LaGuardia from Toronto, including eight flights a day from Montreal. “It’s such a high-volume market for us,” Winter told PAX.

The new LaGuardia Maple Leaf Lounge, which is conveniently located after security and steps away from Air Canada’s gates, is the second of three Maple Leaf Lounges to open in 2018, and 23rd across Air Canada’s international network.

It’s the third Maple Leaf Lounge Air Canada is operating in the U.S. (The airline has plans to open a fourth lounge in San Francisco by the end of 2019).

The new lounge is located on the second floor, after security, and is steps away from Air Canada’s gates,

Canadian-made artwork and furnishings can be found everywhere in the new lounge.

With a capacity of up to 126 customers in a relaxing space that overlooks the shops of LGA’s new concourse – the first phase of the airport's $5.1 billion USD, 1.3-million-square-foot redevelopment – Air Canada’s 7,015-square-foot retreat is a showcase of contemporary design, combining Canadian elements with the spirit of New York City.

A touch of Canada in NYC

Maple wood screen walls holding two large flat screen TVs divide the open-air, self-serve kitchen and lounging areas, where guests can access complimentary wi-fi direct and hold views of LGA’s tarmac. 

Canadian-made artwork and furnishings can be found everywhere – starting at the brilliant white front welcome desk, which, if you look closely, features an engraved pattern of maple leaf shapes.

The lounge’s self-serve bar, which is illuminated by lines of bright white light, offers a selection of Canadian wines and beer, such as Molson Canadian.

Guests can also access more than 7,000 digital newspaper and magazine content via PressReader, an app operated out of Vancouver.  

“It really brings a piece of Canada to New York City,” Mr. Winter told PAX of the new space, which was conceptualized by global design firm HOK (the same minds behind LGA’s state-of-the-art reimagining).

The lounge was designed by global design firm HOK, which also designed LaGuardia's new concourse in Terminal B.

The new lounge was two years in the making and is one that Andrew Yiu, vice-president of product at Air Canada, calls a “significant upgrade” for Air Canada’s customers.

Business and elite-class customers would know that Air Canada has been operating a Maple Leaf Lounge at LaGuardia for some time. At one point the lounge operated in space that was pre-security, which presented a sense of ambiguity around wait times.

The lounge was eventually moved to a post-security space, albeit small one, which officially closed late last night on account of its new home in the new concourse.

“It really brings a piece of Canada to New York City,” says Air Canada's Mats Winter, pictured here in the new lounge.

History in the making

“The [new] terminal is amazing,” Mr. Yiu told guests at Sunday’s night’s preview, which included an official ribbon cutting ceremony. “Kudos to the entire team.”  

Air Canada has a long history with New York City and LaGuardia, flying its first plane to the airport back in 1941; Air Canada’s LaGuardia-Montreal service began in 1950.

“We’re really proud to be part of history again, moving forward,” Mr. Yiu said.

Lysa Scully, general manager at LaGuardia Airport, commended Air Canada’s growing presence at LGA, noting how the airline has grown 30 per cent with more than 5 million passengers in the last five years.

“That’s a testament to Air Canada’s commitment to New York City and to this airport,” Scully told guests.

The new Maple Leaf Lounge also gave Air Canada an opportunity to debut its “premium agent program” – speciality training for front desk staff – for the first time at a U.S. airport, which will give guests an enhanced experience in the lounge and priority check-in areas, Mr. Yiu said.

BIG FACELIFT. The new concourse at LaGuardia Airport's Terminal B (above) opened this past Saturday.

Customers experiencing Air Canada's new space will benefit from LGA’s many terminal enhancements too.

“It’s been an exciting few days at Terminal B,” Stewart Steeves, chief executive officer at LaGuardia Gateway Partners, (the team behind LGA’s new concourse), told guests at the preview. “We’ve got high ceilings, natural light, wide corridors, large restrooms...all the things we didn’t really have before.”

In addition to thirteen new shops, restaurants and services, LGA’s new concourse also includes an airport-themed children’s play area and, overall, a more efficient airport experience.

Steeves offered his sincere congratulations to Air Canada for opening their new space. “I’m just afraid too many people will hang out here and not go to our shops downstairs,” he joked.

The LaGuardia Maple Leaf Lounge will operate seven days a week. For more information about Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounges, including eligibility, click here.