About three weeks ago I had some friends in Vancouver asking me to visit. Unfortunately, I needed to be in Sao Paolo for a prior commitment around the same time, but I tried to work something out that allowed me to do both. I knew going to Sao Paolo, I wanted to experience TAM's first class product, but I hadn't given much more thought to it than that. After working with award availability and my not-flexible schedule, I couldn't believe what I was able to pice out! At the end of the day, I booked a USAirways award which got me a quick stop in Vancouver, while allowing me to still fly TAM first class. The best part? I got to fly TAM's first class on their 777-300 as well as their A330, and got to fly Cathay Pacific's new first class from Vancouver to New York. The route map was as follows:
But enough about the logistics. This post is going to be an overview of Vancouver's beautiful airport, specifically their newly-renovated Plaza Premium Lounge. Year after year, Vancouver is recognized for having one of the best (and certainly most beautiful) airports in North Amrica, if not the world. While pictures give an accurate portrayal in part, they hardly do it justice. Between the soothing colors, the native motifs and the natural (wood and water) accents, the entire atmosphere is one of tranquility. Funny... Most poeple think of airports as hellish, stress-inducing prisons which they tolerate only because a vacation is on the other end. Vancouver's YVR, is an entirely different story.
In addition to the public areas of the airport, around the terminals, YVR has a few really great lounges. Among them, is their newly-renovated Plaza Premium Lounge. It's important to note, this is not an airline lounge. While some airlines use it for their business and first class passengers, it is not officially owned or operated by a particular airline or alliance. What that means for the "average traveler" is as follows: If you want access, you will need an AMEX Platinum card and/or a Priority Pass (or Priority Pass Select) - your airline status will not get you access, and in most cases, neither will a business or first class ticket.
The lounge itself is large, is often empty and has - for what its worth - great shower facilities; I got lucky though, as they gave me the larger, "accessible" shower room since there were so few other people in the lounge. It had nice-sized shower, a good open space for by luggage; a toilet, a sink and even a bench to sit on while I changed.
The seating was abundent. There were at least four different seating options/areas, both inside and outside, each offering a different feel. They had dining-room-style setas/tables, they had lounge chairs, they had seats to work and they had several oversized plush chairs as well. Even if there were three times the number of people, I still think I would have considered it "empty." Perhaps it's the way the lounge is laid out, but it has a fantastic open feeling to it.
The food options are slightly above par, but not quite up to the standards of international first class lounges. Certainly though, it is better than anything you'd find in the United States.
Have you been to the newly-renovated Plaza Premium Lounge at YVR? What were your thoughts?
And, in case you were wondering - yes, this will be a multi-part trip report. This is just the first of four sections. Here's the full summary:
REVIEW: Plaza Premium Lounge in Vancouver (YVR)
REVIEW: Cathay Pacific NEW 777-300 First Class
REVIEW: TAM First Class 777-300
REVIEW: TAM First Class A330
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