What does Omaha have to do with Air Canada’s new Signature Suite at Pearson International Airport in Toronto?
 
Let’s connect some dots: AC just announced service between the Nebraska city and YYZ (starting next May, along with Toronto service to Providence, R.I., Montreal to Baltimore and Pittsburgh, Vancouver to Sacramento, and Edmonton to San Francisco). The service isn’t likely based on point-to-point passenger demand between the two cities; rather, it’s part of Air Canada’s strategy to position Toronto as a global hub, particularly for U.S. customers (like those in Omaha) who don’t have extensive (if any) long-haul flights into their gateway, but who might be inclined to connect onwards through Toronto given enough incentive.
 
Indeed, Air Canada passenger airlines president Ben Smith says as much of the new flights. "As the largest foreign carrier serving the USA, we are pleased to offer customers even more non-stop travel choices between Canada and the US, as well as the ability to conveniently connect onward through our extensive global network at our Canadian hubs…”
 
Already, Toronto is conveniently located, offers connecting flights to almost anywhere a traveller might wish to go, and has U.S. pre-clearance that might even make the customs procedure less burdensome for U.S. residents.
 
Enter the Signature Suite, designed specifically for “international premium business class passengers” and open as of Dec. 1 at Terminal 1 at Pearson. It is just another amenity – and a five-star one, no less – to make a Toronto connection more desirable for this sought-after clientele.
 
To that end, the Signature Suite (located beside the Premium Plaza Lounge) is designed to be a smaller, quieter “retreat” than the existing Maple Leaf Lounge, which remains open. At 6,400 sq. ft. it can accommodate 160 guests at a time and will complement Air Canada’s inflight service. Notably, it is also available only to full-fare paid business class passengers – and not those flying on points, upgrades or discounts.
 
Amenities in the suite include:
 
• Both buffet and (complimentary) à la carte and full-service restaurant from a menu created by acclaimed chef David Hawksworth;
• High quality wine and spirits supplied by Diageo and Moet & Chandon Champagne (both brut and rosé available), and feature Signature cocktails;
• Canadian-designed and decorated setting, including Cloudscape chandelier and murals, by names like Heekyung Duquette, Gavin Lynch, Pascale Girardin and Nicolas Ruel;
• Showers, individual toilet stalls, and luxury skin care products from Molton Brown; and,
• No TV screens, as befitting the relaxed atmosphere.
 
The luxury lounge is also a first for Air Canada and, if successful, will be replicated throughout the network in strategic gateways.
 
Air Canada VP of Sales Duncan Bureau observed to CT-Canadian Traveller at a sneak peak of the space prior to its opening that there is another important customer service function at play: creating space and an inviting environment for clients who want to “eat on land and sleep in the air” – particularly those on red-eyes or shorter flights (such as Ireland) who don’t want their sleep interrupted by having to dine.
 
“If you go to Asia and the Middle East, they do the first-class lounges, and there’s a lot of five-star carriers flying into Canada,” Bureau added. “So, we need to continue to invest in the product [to remain competitive].”
 
And for Smith, it’s simply an extension of what he calls Air Canada’s “best in class” service. “I believe we have,” he says, “a customer offering that’s second to none.”
 
And another dot connected.
 
 
Air Canada new Signature lounge Toronto

Air Canada’s new luxury Signature Lounge at Pearson airport in Toronto may be the first of many.

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