RATING (OUT OF 5 STARS)
Seating area and comfort: 3
Natural light: 2
Staff friendliness: 5
Washroom cleanliness: 4
Shower facilities: 0
Food variety: 2
Bar selection: 2
Decompress Zone: 0
Dedicated WiFi: 0
OVERALL RATING: 2 STARS
Lounges are a great place to go to get away from the noise and crowds of the airport in order to simply relax or get some work done before a long flight or between flights. Given that I take the overwhelming majority of my flights on business trips I have come to count on lounges as being a quiet place conducive for getting some work done. I have also come to expect lounges to serve decent food, at least better quality than the basic bag of pretzels the typical North American Airlines throw at you in economy class.
I recently visited the Plaza Premium Lounge at Vancouver International Airport (YVR). YVR has four Plaza Premium Lounges, two in the Domestic Terminal, one in the US Departures Terminal and one in the International Terminal. On this trip, I visited the Plaza Premium Lounge in the International Terminal.
I accessed the lounge using my Priority Pass card which I have through my Amex Platinum card. If you do not have Priority Pass, you can also purchase access to the lounge.
The lounge lacked a lot things that I find important as a regular international traveler. The biggest one by far was the seating layout and the general comfort of the seating area. There is no quiet zone with comfortable lounge chairs so you can decompress. As well, the general seating area was cramped as you can see in the photo below.
I took a seat in the lounge area hoping to get some peace and quiet before I had to head to my gate for my flight. In the short time that I was sitting in the lounge (which was only about 15 minutes) I could clearly hear three different phone conversations and two video conversations. I get that a lounge isn't a library, but there really was no quiet area in this lounge.
In terms of the general atmosphere, there was some natural lighting but not much.
While the Plaza Premium Lounge advertises that it has WiFi, there was actually no dedicated WiFi for the lounge on the day I visited. Instead, WiFi access consisted of connecting to YVR's public WiFi. WiFi is already free at YVR which meant that I was simply competing with the rest of the passengers in this busy airport. I don't know if the lounge lacks dedicated WiFi or if it was simply a problem on the day I visited. The point being, don't visit this lounge if you are expecting better WiFi than in the public areas of the terminal.
The lounge also lacks showers. I generally consider showers a must for a lounge to be considered a solid international lounge.
In terms of food and drink, there is a self-serve bar and drinks, which was adequate. There was not, however, any premium liquor options. As you can see for the picture below the selection was underwhelming.
The Pop/Soda section and the hot food section was not much better.
The saving grace for this lounge was that the Staff were very friendly and helpful.
I am doubtful that I will be visiting this lounge again anytime soon as there are other better options available to me at YVR. I much prefer Air Canada's Maple Leaf Lounge at YVR, which I will review in a future post. If you are travelling business class on a Star Alliance carrier or have Star Alliance status that gives you access, I would recommend the Maple Leaf Lounge over the Plaza Premium Lounge for all the reasons above.
If the Plaza Premium Lounge is the only lounge you have access to at YVR's International Terminal, then it is adequate and beats wandering the terminal on a long layover or sitting at your gate with everyone else. Just ensure that your expectations are low. Also, if you wanted to purchase access to the lounge it is $42USD per person. Given my experience, I would suggest you spend that money at a restaurant rather than this lounge.
Bottom line, I would not recommend this lounge for all the reasons stated above: 2 stars out of 5.