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I Paid $34 To Use Toronto Pearson's Plaza Premium Lounge & It's Worth It For The Drinks Alone

I got an hour of unlimited food and drink for $33.90.

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plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airport

Waiting to check in to the Plaza Premium Lounge at Toronto Pearson Airport. Right: Inside the Plaza Premium Lounge.

This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

Too many travellers assume that you need to fly first or business class to access an airport lounge, when most airports actually have at least one you can pay your way into.

On a recent trip from Toronto Pearson Airport to London Gatwick, I decided to check out the Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 3, which is open to the public and pretty affordable.

I'd used Plaza Premium lounges before — they're all over the world — but hadn't made use of the one at Pearson, so I planned to spend a few hours there and give the experience a score out of five in four categories: service, food and drink, facilities, and value.

Here's how it measured up.

How to get to the Plaza Premium Lounge

The bag drop wasn't working and it took over an hour to get through check-in, so once I finally got through security, I followed signs to the right for the Plaza Premium Lounge, hoping it would still be worth it.

plaza premium domestic lounge terminal 3 toronto pearson airportThe entrance to the Plaza Premium Domestic Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

After arriving at what I thought was the lounge and attempting to check in at the desk, I discovered there are actually two Plaza Premium Lounges in Terminal 3 — one for domestic travellers, which was the one I had attempted to enter, and another for international travellers, which is at the opposite end of the terminal.

Losing precious time, I made my way towards C gates, following the signs once again and then taking an elevator up one floor.

plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airportAt the entrance to the Plaza Premium International Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

There was a short line-up when I arrived, but I was able to pay $33.90 for one hour of access since I was tight on time, and it didn't take too long to get checked in.

plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airportThe entrance to the Plaza Premium International Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

You can reserve a spot online in advance or pay at the door, and you pay more depending on how long you want to spend in the lounge. Two hours of access costs $55.80 online, and you can also buy a multi-visit pass that works in other airports.

Facilities: 3/5

plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airportA seating area inside the Plaza Premium International Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

I first took a look around the lounge, and found lots of seating options, though the area with a sunset view of the runway was easily my favourite. It was a little quieter and more relaxed than the rest of the lounge, and has more luxurious armchairs with armrests and built-in plugs and USB ports.

There's Wi-Fi throughout the lounge (though I didn't get a chance to use it), which is useful if you have some work to do and don't want to rely on the usually unreliable regular Pearson Wi-Fi.

The lounge was pretty loud and busy when I visited on a Tuesday around 8 p.m., and the high-top and regular tables in the area between the bar and buffet were mostly full of groups of friends and families, though there were still plenty of seats available

plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airportThe buffet and seating area inside the Plaza Premium International Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

The bathrooms were much nicer and cleaner than the ones you find in the rest of the terminal, which was a bonus.

plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airportA bathroom inside the Plaza Premium International Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

There's also a shower room, but it was occupied when I went to check it out, so I didn't get to take a peek inside. The massage and wellbeing areas were also out of service.

plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airportThe occupied shower room inside the Plaza Premium International Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

Despite the fact not all facilities seemed to be open or were in use when I tried to access them, overall I found the lounge to be a good spot to recharge and prepare for my flight.

Food & Drink: 4/5

A bar sits in the middle of the lounge and house wine, beer and spirits are included in the price. This was the only line-up I noticed inside the lounge, though it didn't take too long to get a drink.

plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airportThe bar inside the Plaza Premium International Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

When I visited, the house wine was Jackson Triggs, and the house beer was Molson Canadian.

plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airportThe house alcohol options inside the Plaza Premium International Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

You can also order and pay for more premium drinks if you're looking for something special.

plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airportA drink menu inside the Plaza Premium International Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

A buffet sits on the other side of the room and includes soft drinks, teas and coffees, baked goods, fruit, and hot and cold dishes.

plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airportBuffet options inside the Plaza Premium International Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

When I visited, some of the hot options included spring rolls, coconut lentil curry, pasta, mushroom chicken, rice, and pierogis, with salads to have on the side and a few little desserts to finish it off.

plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airportBuffet options inside the Plaza Premium International Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

I wasn't too hungry and also knew I'd be eating a meal on board my flight, so I just tried some of the salads and a cookie along with a glass of white wine.

plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airportBuffet options inside the Plaza Premium International Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

The quality was basic, but I liked that there were lots of options, and it felt like everyone could find something — plus those that were really hungry could go back for more.

Overall, I was impressed with the food and drink offering given the lack of options — and extortionate prices — you find elsewhere in Terminal 3.

plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airportA cookie inside the Plaza Premium International Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

Service: 5/5

Despite it being busy in the lounge, all of the staff I encountered and observed — from those checking guests in to those serving or clearing food — were friendly and helpful, and everyone seemed to be looked after well.

Nobody seemed to wait too long for anything, the lounge was kept tidy, and the food seemed to be topped up regularly.

Value: 5/5

If you're planning to eat and have a few drinks before your flight, the lounge is great value compared to what you'll spend in the rest of the terminal, where a glass of wine alone can set you back around $15 and you'll struggle to find anything truly tasty to eat.

It's especially worthwhile if you have at least an hour or two to kill and are looking for a more comfortable place to sit and relax, or to freshen up and prepare for your journey.

Overall: 4/5

plaza premium international lounge terminal 3 pearson airportEnjoying a glass of wine inside the Plaza Premium International Lounge at Terminal 3 of Pearson Airport.Ali Millington | Narcity

I found the lounge to be comfortable with a decent food and drink offering, and I left feeling it was well worth the price, even though I'd only had a short amount of time to spend there.

I'd happily go back if I had at least one, ideally two hours to kill before a flight — especially if I could enjoy it with a companion, or if I needed to get some work done.

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