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  • Jason

Plaza Premium Lounge – Vancouver International Airport (YVR) - USA Departure Terminal

Date of Visit: October 2023

Access: Priority Pass / Amex Platinum (Canada)

 

RATING (OUT OF 5 STARS)


Seating area and comfort: 4

Natural light: 2

Staff friendliness: 4

Washroom cleanliness: 5

Shower facilities: 4

Food variety/quality: 3

Bar selection: 4

Relaxation Zone: 1

Dedicated WiFi: 1


OVERALL RATING: 3.1 STARS


 
Plaza Premium Lounge YVR
Plaza Premium Lounge YVR (USA Transborder Departures)

Introduction

There are not a lot of lounge options when flying out of YVR's USA Trans-border departures terminal. Basically, you have either Air Canada's Maple Leaf Lounge (MLL) or Plaza Premium's lounge. In past times, neither lounge has been particularly noteworthy. Air Canada's MLL Lounge is bright with some good seating areas overlooking the tarmac, but the food options are generally uninspiring, with the only warm item typically being soup and then some salad, cookies, etc. Prior to the closure of the Plaza Premium Lounge in 2020 due to COVID, the Plaza Premium lounge was kind of a dark, sad lounge with a couple of warm dishes and salads. Frankly I never found Plaza Premium's food offerings all that great - from a choice perspective or a taste perspective.


In November 2022, Plaza Premium re-opened after the Covid shutdown with an entirely new lounge. It is a HUGE improvement over their previous lounge and, frankly, is now the lounge of choice for me over Air Canada's MLL.


I accessed the Plaza Premium Lounge using my American Express Platinum card (Canada). However, you can also access it using a Priority Pass membership or a DragonPass membership. The lounge is located near gate E88.

Entrance to Plaza Premium Lounge - YVR - USA Departures Terminal
Plaza Premium Lounge - YVR - USA Departures Terminal

Seating and comfort - 4

The new Plaza Premium lounge is open, bright and inviting. It is not a huge space, having seating for 132 guests. The couple of times that I have visited the lounge, overcrowding has not been an issue, though I have heard reports of the lounge being unable to accommodate the numbers of guests seeking to use it, resulting in a waiting list. That hasn't bene my experience but I expect it is a function of when you happen to visit the lounge. My visits have all been in the early evening and I have yet to experience any overcrowding in the lounge.


The new lounge is a marked improvement over the previous lounge, with lots of use of LED lights to create a bright and warm environment. The colour palette is similarly light, with blonde wood tabletops, blonde wood accents, light hardwood floors and white marble countertops along the bar area and for larger tabletops. It really does look great!


As you walk into the lounge, there is a bar in the centre with seating on either side.

Plaza Premium Lounge - YVR - USA Departures Terminal - Entrance
View as you enter the lounge

To the right of the bar there is restaurant style seating with plenty of tables and booths.



To the left of the bar there are high top seating areas and more lounge-type seating with comfortable chairs and small tables along one of the walls. There is also bar seating available around either side of the bar.



The back wall of the lounge has counter seating along half of the wall and lounge chairs along the other half of the wall. The back wall consists of floor to ceiling windows that span the entire rear wall of the lounge and overlooks into the cavernous Canada customs and immigration Arrivals Area. Not as great a view as the tarmac would be, but at least there is some opportunity to people watch from your perch up high.





Overall, I found the design of the lounge decor to be quite tasteful, with plenty of different seating options.


Natural Lighting - 2

There is very little in the way of natural light in the lounge. That being said, it is well lit and is very bright. As well, due to it overlooking the large immigration area below, it does serve to make the lounge feel larger.


Staff Friendliness - 4

Overall the staff were friendly and helpful. I have no complaints and didn't have any negative interactions with the staff. They were efficient in clearing dirty plates and glasses from tables, ensuring food was restocked, keeping the lounge clean, etc.


Washroom Cleanliness - 5

The washrooms were kept very clean, no complaints.


Shower Facilities - 4

The lounge offers shower facilities, which is a nice option if one were to be coming from a long international flight into Canada and then connecting on to the US.


The shower facilities were modern and the entire area looked very clean. They were by no means luxurious, but for an airport lounge they were more than adequate. Most importantly, the entire shower area was spotless and offered most of the amenities you might need, including a hair dryer. For my taste, though, the room was a bit spartan.


Show at Plaza Premium YVR US Departure Terminal
Shower Facilities




Food variety/quality - 3

In the evening, the lounge generally offers five warm dishes along with a soup selection. The offerings on my visits have included pepper, steak, chicken cacciatore, mushroom ravioli, yukon mashed potatoes and green beans.



There is also a selection of salads, yogurt (with toppings), juices, fresh fruit and various dessert options.






As well, a station by the bar offers snacks such as pretzels, potato chips and cookies. There is also soup, bread, buns and a toaster available here as well.



Finally, there is a self-serve soda dispenser and coffee machine for drinks.


Generally, I have been satisfied with the quality of the food for what it is. Don't expect the quality of, for example, an Amex Centurion Lounge. It's pretty simple buffet style food, but the choices available are good and a big improvement over what the old Plaza Premium used to offer and a far better selection than the competitor MLL offers.


Bar Selection - 4

The lounge also has a manned bar which offers various alcoholic beverages free of charge, including red and white wines, Steamworks beer on tap - IPA, lager, pale ale, etc. (Steamworks is a local Vancouver craft brewery), and spirits, though you will pay extra for top shelf spirits. Again, it surpasses the offerings of the MLL which has a self-serve bar with fewer options.



Decompress zone - 1

The several lounge chairs (see the photo above) that are well spaced apart and face the back window are about as good a relaxation area as this lounge offers. Given the relatively small size of the lounge there is no real space to get away and relax. If relaxation is your goal and you arrive at a time that the lounge is busy, you will be better off finding a chair at an empty departure gate. However, if the lounge is relatively quiet and uncrowded the lounge chairs it offers might just do the trick.


WiFi - 1

The lounge does not have dedicated Wi-Fi.


Overall Thoughts

I was suitably impressed with Plaza Premium's new lounge. It is a vast improvement over the dark and rather sad pre-COVID Premium Plaza lounge. The new lounge is bright, clean and modern, with ample food selection and a full service bar. The food quality is pretty much at the level I expect for a Plaza Premium, which is not a high bar, but at least it has a decent number of options. I certainly prefer it over Air Canada's MLL in the USA Departures terminal and the Plaza Premium has now become my lounge of choice when flying out of this terminal. I think it is well past time that Air Canada's MLL upped its game.


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