Review: Plaza Premium Lounge (International Terminal) – Vancouver Airport

Review: Plaza Premium Lounge (International Terminal) – Vancouver Airport

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Introduction

I’ll get it out of the way – contract lounges kind of suck. Sure, they’re better than waiting at the gate (most of the time), but compared to flagship airline lounges, such as the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt or the Japan Airlines First Class Lounge in Tokyo, these contract spaces feel more like a holding pens with a bit of food and free alcohol. North American lounges are particularly bad compared to international standards, so I set my expectations quite low of the Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport when booking my Aeroplan mini round-the-world trip. The lounge is conveniently located just after security, and is about a 5 minute walk to most of the international gates.

The Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Location Map

The Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Location Map

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Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Access

EVA Air (along with some other airlines) contracts the Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport for their business class passengers. I would probably prefer the international Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, though unfortunately it closes at 11:30pm – well short of the scheduled 2am departure  to Taipei with EVA.

For those flying economy class, there are a few other ways to access the Plaza Premium Lounges at Vancouver Airport.

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Option 1 – Priority Pass Membership

Both the American Express Platinum Card and The American Express Business Platinum Card come with a complimentary Priority Pass membership, which would get you access to the Plaza Premium Lounge at YVR including more than 1200 lounges worldwide. If you don’t have either of these cards, consider applying today to take advantage of the generous welcome bonuses currently being offered:

Apply for The American Express Platinum Card and earn 50,000 Membership Reward points as a welcome bonus, in addition to an annual $200 travel credit and a complimentary Priority Pass membership.

Apply for The American Express Business Platinum Card and earn 40,000 Membership Reward points as a welcome bonus in addition to a complimentary Priority Pass membership.

Option 2 – Pay Per Visit

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this option, mainly because it’s quite expensive at $52.50/adult for a two-hour stay, and I just don’t see the value given how passenger friendly Vancouver Airport is. Also, two adults accessing this lounge four times a year and paying for each visit would be much better off paying an annual fee on a premium credit card to get access, since those cards come with a variety of other great benefits, in addition to worldwide lounge access.

However, if you only travel once or twice a year, or are taking a special trip where lounge access could enhance the experience, this could be a decent option. YVR allows you to book your lounge stay in advance online, which is convenient.

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Pay Per Visit Reservation System

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Pay Per Visit Reservation System

The Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport

This is going to be a brief review, as I was only in the lounge for about 20 minutes. Rather than driving to the airport (or getting Brad to drive me) at midnight, I decided instead to book a room at The Fairmont Vancouver Airport as a place to relax before the flight. I realize that sounds a little lush, booking a hotel room for a 2 am departure, but the rates were really good and I was able to check-in at noon that day, which allowed for a great place to work for the day, plane spot, and rest in comfort before my flight. The hotel recently underwent a 1.8 million dollar renovation, with the entire Gold Floor reimagined.

New Fairmont Vancouver Airport Gold Floor Reception Area

New Fairmont Vancouver Airport Gold Floor Reception Area

Newly Renovated Fairmont Vancouver Airpot Gold Floor

Newly Renovated Fairmont Vancouver Airpot Gold Floor

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel Is Located Just Above The Check-In Counters

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel Is Located Just Above The Check-In Counters

It took about 10 minutes to go from the hotel to check-in and through security, which is pretty darn convenient. The Plaza Premium lounge is located just after the checkpoint and is tough to miss with the signage and ‘outdoor’ patio space.

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Entrance

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Entrance

Lounge Reception Area

Lounge Reception Area

'Outdoor' Patio Seating

‘Outdoor’ Patio Seating

I presented my boarding pass and lounge invitation to the friendly front desk person and made my way inside. The lounge underwent a complete renovation about 4 years ago and is still looking new, though maybe a bit bland. There was plenty of seating, and the lounge didn’t feel overcrowded. I picked a seat in the section furthest away from the food and had the entire space to myself for the time I was there, which is a lot better than American Express Centurion Lounges where it can often be hard finding an empty seat.

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Seating

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Seating

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Seating

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Seating

The Seating Closer To The Food Had More People

The Seating Closer To The Food Had More People

In the middle of the lounge near the entrance was a small cafe with a selection of beverages and snacks.

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Cafe

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Cafe

Further down was the main dining area and buffet section, which featured plenty of seating and a variety of hot and cold items, including some fresh salads. I didn’t have any of the food, but most of it looked very decent, which I don’t always find to be the norm at North American lounges, especially after midnight.

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Buffet

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Buffet

Selection Of Hot Items

Selection Of Hot Items

Salad Bar

Salad Bar

Buffet Counter

Buffet Counter

Dining Room Seating

Dining Room Seating

Views from the lounge were of the airside operations, with the EVA Boeing 777 taking me to Taipei seen in the distance.

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Airside Views

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Airside Views

Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Airport Bottom Line

I don’t think this lounge is going to win any awards anytime soon, but it actually exceeded my (low) expectations for a North American contract lounge! The seating was ample and comfortable, staff were friendly, and there was a decent selection of food and beverages available despite the very late hour. What more do you need?

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While I don’t think there’s a lot of value in paying for single visits, I appreciate the free access through Priority Pass, which helps justify paying the annual fee on my American Express Platinum Card.

Vancouver Airport is consistently ranked as one of the best in the world for passenger experience, but I’ve always thought the lounge situation was a bit lacking (save for The Cathay Pacific Lounge – it’s fantastic). The Plaza Premium Lounge at YVR is fairly forgettable and pales in comparison to some other flagship airline lounges around the world. However, there’s nothing really wrong with it either, and it’s definitely better than waiting around at the gate!

Have you been to the Plaza Premium Lounge at Vancouver Airport? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below!

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About the Author:

Champagne taste on a beer budget has always been reminiscent of Tyler’s travel style. Raised in British Columbia, Tyler has an unquenchable thirst for more adventure, which is fueled by leveraging airline and hotel loyalty programs to travel the world in luxury and style.

5 Comments

  1. Atom June 14, 2018 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    Just remember that the Plaza Premium in the US departures and the one in International are NOT the same, either in quality or space.

    The US departures lounge has no airside viewing and is sandwiched into the middle of the terminal

    • Tyler Weatherup June 14, 2018 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Atom,

      Good point – the Plaza Premium lounge for US departures is not very good. We’ve visited a couple of times but generally give it a pass when flying to The States.

      -Tyler

      • Alexander March 11, 2019 at 5:51 pm - Reply

        Just my two cents…

        The USA Transborder Plaza Premium lounge is probably the absolute worst PP lounge I’ve ever encountered. As Vancouver is my home base and I travel to the states a lot I’m in that lounge 2-3x a month and I can say with full confidence that it’s actually gotten worse over the last 2 – 3 years. The food selection is horrendous, it’s always either tasteless or “gone” (hungry travellers!), and there really isn’t much selection. The drinks are OK, but I hate how they don’t offer bottled water (or a filtered water fountain) as sometimes a glass of water is just what the Dr ordered. Lastly the decor is dated and all the furniture really needs to be replaced for new that does not have cracks/stains. The carpet has many seams showing and needs replacement.

        The staff that work there are hit and miss. Sometimes they are really friendly and on the ball with removing discarded plates and glasses etc but I’ve also seen every table piled up with dirty plates and the staff arguing in the back kitchen by the hall couldn’t have cared less.

  2. MARK September 20, 2018 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    Hey,

    I have booked Eva Air business class via my AIR CHINA account. The flight going to be April,2019.
    However, few questions remain:
    1. For Air Canada New Maple Leaf Lounge, what do you think, especially for EVA midnight departure? The lounge closed around 11:45PM…Does Plaza Lounge offer desert, Noodles, and all Hot Food options after MidNight?

    2. What food options do they have? Can you send me clear images if you have them?\
    3. What do you think on board Eva services?

  3. Drunk Panda March 30, 2019 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Great article Tyler! I love hearing different approaches to traveling… sounds like the most relaxing check in procedure ever!!

    I’ve stayed in both the US and International Plaza Premium lounges and I have to agree that the US lounge is not very good and reminds me of a breakfast area of a cheap motel in the states.

    The International lounge isn’t too bad considering the options if not flying business or first class. I actually prefer the food here then in the new Skyteam lounge but I usually hit up both! They do offer a made to order dish (usually noodle soup) that changes daily in the buffet farthest from the entrance beside the salad & congee bar. I’ve had beef pho, wonton soup, and laksa there on different occasions and they were actually pretty decent. There are usually a couple of hot dishes on stand by that can be hit or miss.

    At the middle cafe section, they have good egg salad sandwiches and they usually offer a Japanese beef curry that is very good, especially with the pickled onions! They have a Steel & Oak ale on tap as well and your usual wine and spirit options and don’t forget about the carrot cake, surprisingly good!

    What I like about this lounge is that it offers a dining area that is separate from the lounge area and the cleaning staff are on top of things, clearing dishes and wiping tables. I’ve only had trouble finding a seat on one occasion and I have visited over a dozen of times. Shower rooms are available but I’m usually pretty fresh at that point of the trip. Definitely worth showing up a bit early to the airport for!

    DPanda

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