Friday, February 24, 2017

New YYC Calgary Transborder Aspire Lounge Review

Transborder Aspire Lounge Entrance - Photo courtesy of Swissport
 To start our latest vacation the Rewards Canada family recently visited the new Transborder Calgary Airport Aspire Lounge. This lounge opened up on October 31, 2016 along with the entire new International terminal at YYC. This is the only transborder lounge in YYC as the old Rocky Mountain Lounge is now closed and is one of four lounges available in Calgary. The other three are the Aspire Lounge International, Chinook Lounge (Domestic) and Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge.

The Lounge
The new lounge has a much more open feel than the old Rocky Mountain lounge with lots of seating in booth areas, bar seats and bench seating. The lounge also has some loungers in semi enclosed areas where you can watch TV. The seats in the booth areas all featured cubbies for small carry on items and more importantly individual plugs for charging all your electronics!

Here are some general photos I took of the lounge:
At the check in desk!

Middle of the lounge seating with bar stools to the back

These are the seats with the cubbies and plug ins to charge your electronics

Food & Drinks
Outside of the peace and quiet of lounges the biggest draw for many to business class lounges are the food and drink options. Previously at the Rocky Mountain lounge (and in the current Chinook lounge) the food options are quite limited, in particular the hot food options which was usually just soup. The good news that the new transborder Aspire lounge has hot food options! When we arrived the options were chicken fingers, grilled tomatoes, fried rice and carrots. The bad news was the food wasn't very good. Later on the tomatoes were replaced with hashbrowns but we didn't try those out. We ended grabbing some food from Burger King (yes, BK - don't judge) to consume in the lounge. Perhaps we were just unlucky with the food that day but if not hopefully it will be something they work on and provide some better hot food options. The drink options were decent with several beers and hard alcohol options available along with wine. For non-alcoholic drinks there were your usual cans of soda, bottles of Juice and water (still & sparkling) on tap. As a reminder then bring an empty water bottle to fill up if you used to be used to taking water bottles out of the old lounge to your plane!
The hot food options

The alcohol options - there is also wine but not in this picture

Entering the lounge was easy as we simply provided our J Class Air Canada boarding passes. Flying AC Business Class you can also choose to go the Maple Leaf lounge first but you'll have to clear security first for that lounge and when coming back for Transborder you'll have to go through U.S. customs and then security again. Kind of a pain hence AC's access to this lounge for their Transborder flights. Had we not been in business class we would have reverted to the other options our family has and those are The Platinum Card from American Express (which provides access for the whole family), Priority Pass (from The Platinum Card) or at the very least our Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard but the last would only have covered 2 of the 5 of us that were travelling. You can pretty much access the lounge with any lounge program as mentioned but also Dragon Pass or you can buy single entries. To find out more about all the different lounge options read and bookmark Rewards Canada's Guide to Business Class lounge access

Overall this new transborder lounge is very nice, much better than the old Rocky Mountain Lounge. We look forward to using it lots and also can't wait to try out the International lounge as well. We just hope the hot food options get a working to something better!

Have you visited this lounge? What do you think of it? What do you like and what do you think could be done better?


For the best access to this lounge no matter what airline you are flying or what fare class and want to have your family get access look no further than The Platinum Card from American Express:

The Platinum Card from American Express

New Platinum Card® Cardmembers, earn 50,000 Bonus Membership Rewards® points by spending $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of Cardmembership.
• Platinum members are automatically enrolled in the Membership Rewards First™ Tier and earn 1.25 points for every dollar in purchases charged to the Card
• The Platinum Card gives you access to exceptional lounge benefits such as the Canadian Platinum Lounge Benefit, Airport Club Program and access to the Cathay Pacific Business Class lounges and oneworld® alliance airlines Business Class lounges.
• You will also have access to elevated status with many Hotel & Car Rental loyalty programs, $200 Annual Travel Credit for Travel Bookings through Platinum Card Travel Service, lodging benefits at a collection of over 700 Fine Hotels & Resorts around the world, access to special events and unique opportunities and a dedicated concierge team
• You can use Apple Pay on your eligible device to pay for goods and services at participating American Express contactless merchants
• American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link.
• *As a Charge Card, the balance must always be paid in full each month. 30% annual interest rate applies to balances not paid in full.
Conditions apply
Apply Now

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hotel Review: Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel

On September 1st the newest Marriott Hotel in Canada opened its doors, The Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel. The hotel is one of the first developments of the multi-billion dollar International Terminal development at YYC to open up and if it is any indication of what the rest of the new terminal will be then Calgary's airport just jumped up a few leagues in the world of great airports. When we heard about the new YYC hotel opening up on September 1st I reached out to Marriott about staying there and they were more than happy to let us try it out this past weekend.

We received an email from the director of sales and marketing at the Calgary Marriott In-Terminal hotel that the Rewards Canada family was all set for a stay on Friday night. It stated to simply pull up to the valet parking in front of the hotel and that they would take care of the rest. We really had no idea what to expect but all I can say is we were excited for a little staycation just before the family schedule shifts into high gear with school, competitive dance, volleyball and more.

Pulling up to the hotel we were greeted by the Marriott's valet who promptly asked for our name, provided us with our valet parking tag and asked if we needed any assistance with our bags. So far so good! Since we are Calgary based and only staying one night we didn't require assistance with our bags and made our way to check in. There was staff at every entrance (you pass through a corridor connecting the old terminal with the new to get to the hotel) and they all greeted us politely.

View of the corridor between the old and new terminal
At check in the staff was very welcoming and we were informed that we would be provided with a two queen room with a connecting king suite along with full club lounge access. Wow, Marriott went above and beyond here! The check in agent handed us our keys and told us she would take us to our room. The rooms were 745 and 747 on the top floor of the hotel. This is also the floor that houses the club lounge.

Lobby and Yakima Restaurant towards the back
As we walked down the 7th floor hallway she explained that 747 is the largest suite on the property and is the only of its kind in the hotel. Marriott called the suite the 'Concierge Suite' but if you go to book it online it is listed as the Presidential Suite. Of note the room number is 747 and I asked later if it was just a coincidence that the best room in the hotel just happens to be numbered 747 (Avgeeks will get why I asked this question) but there wasn't a definitive answer whether this was done on purpose or not.
What follows are quick thoughts and descriptions of the rooms but as usual we like to let the photos do most of the talking!

Two Queen Room
Upon entering we found the regular two queen room was prepped for our girls. There were two trays of treats geared toward them as well as some board games for our enjoyment! The room size and layout are impressive and would be typical of the type of room we normally book as a family.  After seeing this we would have been very happy with just this room and I can happily pass along that anyone who books the standard two queens or single king rooms won't be disappointed.  The bathroom is sized well and has a large walk in shower with regular shower head and a rain shower head. This particular room connected to the Presidential suite so we essentially had a three room suite.
Two Queens
Two Queen Room Shower
Two Queen Room Vanity
Games provided by the Marriott YYC for our enjoyment!
Treats for the girls from the Marriott!

Presidential Suite
The Presidential (or Concierge Suite) was impressive! It is a two room suite (living room and bedroom) with so much space! When you first enter the suite there is a powder room to the left and as you go further into the living room you'll find a bar area (sink, counter and cabinets) on the North wall and a great seating area for everyone in the middle. Here we found treats for the adults including a couple special drinks made by the hotel restaurant Yakima which happens to make all of their syrups in house for their drinks. (a separate post will follow on our dining experiences at Yakima). Next to the living room on the Southwest corner of the building is the bedroom which has a king bed, TV, settee and a telescope.  Floor to ceiling windows wrap around the room on two sides with views of the new terminal, the old and of course of Calgary. Quite possibly the highlight of this already great room is the huge bathroom. You'll find dual sinks/mirrors (one on each side of the space), a separate walk in shower with rain shower head, a separate stall for the toilet and a freestanding tub.

Presidential Suite King Bed
View from the Suite
Another angle of the suite (With Rewards Canada's youngest utilizing the telescope!)
The huge Presidential Suite bathroom!
One of the two vanities and the walk in shower
Presidential Suite Living Room
Treats for the parents!

Thoughts on the rooms
The floor to ceiling windows in the rooms are amazing and provide for awesome views of the airport, downtown Calgary and the Rocky Mountains. If you get the Presidential Suite you'll find a Telescope in the room for your viewing enjoyment! We used it to look at planes and downtown Calgary. You'll also find the same telescope in the Club Lounge.  The rooms themselves are sized great and should appeal to most travellers whether on a layover or a longer extended stay. If you like firm beds then the hotel is for you, we did find them a bit too firm for us but the hotel is also only a little over a week old and most mattresses will 'soften' over time so I just see the beds getting better. On Twitter a reader asked how the soundproofing was and if we could hear the planes. I originally responded that we could not but that was during the evening when there was more going on in the hotel (we were in the lounge at that time). Later at night when things quieted down you could hear the planes in our rooms but not at an annoying or wake you up volume. The good thing about YYC is there isn't too much action on the tarmac between 10pm and 6am, so in general the hotel feels quiet.

Club Lounge
The club lounge is also on the 7th floor and like all the south facing rooms has amazing views of the city and the airport. The lounge is quite large and offers hot food options during breakfast and during evening hours. Outside of those hours they have some small snacks available along with lots of drink options. All food and non-alcoholic drinks are free while there is a charge for alcoholic beverages. At all times there were two staff members in the lounge helping everyone out, the service here was impeccable.
Hot Breakfast food options
Breakfast Pastries
The hotel features a few amenities for those staying here. There is a great fitness room which once again has views of the tarmac and the city. There is a fun pool with waterfalls that our girls did try out and enjoy. A hot tub is also in the pool area however it was blocked off as it wasn't ready for use during our stay. The on site restaurant, Yakima takes a local Calgary flare on dining and infuses some South American and Japanese touches. Most if not all of the food is sourced locally (hence no fish on the menu) and they also bake all their own breads and pastries. We'll have more on Yakima in another post but all I can say is that it is pretty darn good! It will become a regular haunt for us in our dining out in Calgary, and if you're thinking it might get expensive with airport parking, fear not as the restaurant provides up to 4 hours of free valet parking when dining at it.

Tips for stays at the new Calgary Marriott
If you want views of airplanes, downtown Calgary and the Rocky Mountains request a room on the south side of the hotel (odd numbered rooms). Of course the higher the floor the better but I would assume you'll get good views from most floor levels.

Overall Thoughts
We knew Marriott was expecting us and they went above and beyond in terms of service to make sure our stay was awesome.  The thing is we saw the staff treating everyone else just as well as us and this can be attested to as seen on Twitter with another guest complementing the hotel on the service:
Had we just come in as 'regular customers' with anonymity and stayed in the two queen room I can truthfully say we would have been impressed. We are already thinking of future staycations here and will definitely recommend it to family, friends and our readers as the place to stay at YYC.

Hotel details
Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel (Book here)
Marriott Rewards Category: 5
Points required for a free night (Standard) 25,000 Points
Points required for a free night (PointSaver) 20,000 Points
Cash+Points Requirement: 14,000 Points + US$65 per night for standard rooms
You can use your anniversary bonus of a free night in a Category 1-5 hotel from the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Card here as well.

Talk to us! Have you stayed at the new Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel? What are your thoughts of the hotel? Or are you planning to and looking forward to it? Let us know below!

Rewards Canada has had a relationship with Marriott for more than 10 years but over the past 6 months that has grown by leaps and bounds. You may have noticed the Marriott Rewards contests in July and August and there is even more to come. I cannot say how excited we are about this new expanded relationship and I'm sure you are too as many more promotions will be coming your way shortly! 

Rewards Canada's (I Fly Calgary) stay at the Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel was provided by Marriott at no charge. We were fully responsible for incidental charges like food and drinks and as with all of our review policies for flights, hotels, credit cards and anything else we do like to point out the good and the not so good, whether or not we are paid for it, receive it for free etc.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Save 25% on KLM Business Class award tickets between Calgary & Europe for travel in November & December

Air France KLM Flying Blue's Promo Awards is something I cover on Rewards Canada each and every month but haven't posted it here as Calgary has not been included in these discounted award ticket offers for ages! Finally YYC is now included in the September offering hence the post here! Sometimes this offer is good for up to 50% off the number of miles required for travel on Air France or KLM but this month all Canadian cities are at 25% off business class. So while 25% isn't as good as 50% of course, it still is something to look at if you were planning travel for the last two months of the year and Flying Blue redemptions were be considered for that travel.

Offer Details:
Save up to 50% with Promo Awards Save 25% to 50% on the Award Miles usually required for award ticket. Destinations vary by each promotional period. Full Details Book by Sep 30 for travel between Nov 1 - Dec 31, 16

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Crazy Business Class Fares (under $1,700) on KLM from Calgary to Germany

Thanks to a post from Loyalty Traveler we were alerted to some good business class fares out of the U.S. and possibly Canadian cities to Germany. We dug deeper and KLM is definitely selling flights for a remarkable price! From late August right through to March of 2017 weekday flights are pricing below $17000 between Calgary and Germany, in Business Class! Check out fares and book online at In some cases these are even cheaper than Economy Class! We're not sure how long this will last so I would jump on this right away!

Here are some sample fares:

Calgary - Munich in October for $1,627!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Receive a $100 Coupon for use on Hainan Airlines flights out of Calgary

While there haven't been any extravagant seat sales yet for the new Hainan Airlines flight out of Calgary like we see south of the border there is this coupon offer you can take advantage of! You can save $100 on flights until the end of September when you register for this coupon. The link to get the offer is and you'll have to access it with your Facebook account. We found the offer on Instagram and they state there are limited numbers so I would go and get it right away if you think you'll fly this route by the end of September.

Excerpt from the Terms and Conditions
1. Hainan Airlines’ Coupons are valid from March 15th, 2016 to September 30th, 2016. 2. Passengers must travel before September 30th, 2016 (return flight date) 3. Coupon is only valid on Hainan Airlines overseas website ( 4. The promotion code cannot be used for upgrades, or charges relating to itinerary changes. 5. The coupon can be used only on tickets purchased for flights originating in Calgary or Toronto to China, where Hainan Airlines is the operating carrier. 6. The coupon can only be used on the airfare portion of a flight ticket, and cannot be applied to airport improvement/development fees, fuel surcharges or any taxes. 7. The coupon is not valid on tickets that include connecting flights on other airlines or on codeshare flights. 8. The coupon must be entered at the page PAYMENT. 9. Only ONE coupon may be applied to one ticket. 10. The coupon can only be used once per a booking on Hainan Airlines global website. 11. The coupon is only valid on tickets paid for in full on the Hainan Airlines website and may not be used to discount tickets purchased at any retail outlet. 12. Any refunds, itinerary changes, transfers and upgrades shall be dealt with in accordance with the original fare of the ticket. 13. The coupon cannot be used to discount cargo fees, insurance, Fortune Wings Miles discounted tickets or Limited Deals pricing. The coupon CAN NOT be applied to all other promotions (Early Bird, Save Even More, Extra Discount, ADDON, etc.) 14. Hainan Airlines has the final interpretation of authority.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Use your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles to fly on the inaugural Hainan Airlines flight from YYC - Save $2,900+ in business class

I posted this over on Rewards Canada earlier today but wanted to let iflycalgary readers know about it is as well.

On March 30th you could officially start redeeming Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles for flights on Hainan Airlines. Right now they have great availability (at least 2 seats in Business Class) for the inaugural flight out of YYC as well as many more flights after that. Business Class is 50,000 Mileage Plan Miles one way and as you can see even with the $202 in taxes and fees you can save a bundle over what the going rate for the same seat from Hainan themselves.

If you don't collect Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles you should definitely look into them as not only can you use them on Alaska flights out of YYC but you can also use them on Hainan, British Airways, KLM, American and Delta flights out of YYC! They are a very useful currency for us Calgarians. You can jump start your Mileage Plan balance with the mbna Alaska Airlines MasterCard® credit card. Read our review of the card here.

Mileage Plan availability for Hainan's inaugural flight out of YYC

and the cost if you were to buy the same ticket
Alaska Airlines MasterCard® credit card 

• Receive 25,000 Bonus Miles†† after your first eligible purchase
• Earn 1 Bonus Mile per $1 spent on every eligible purchase‡
• Earn 3 Bonus Miles per $1 spent on Alaska Airlines tickets, cargo purchases, in-flight purchases and vacation packages‡
• Receive an annual Companion Fare from $121 (USD) ($99 base fare, plus taxes and fees from $22)◊◊
• Redeem Miles for flights to over 700 destinations worldwide‡
• $75 annual fee
Apply here.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Hainan Airlines updates aircraft for YYC service

According to the new Hainan Airlines Calgary- Beijing services that starts this June will see an aircraft change. Initially the route was supposed to be operated with Boeing 787-8 but that has now switched to an Airbus A330-200 until July 31st. The 787 service will start on August 2nd.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Compact Transit System has a new name - YYC LINK

Noticed this little change on YYC's website Waypoints, the site with all the updates for the airport development program. Looks like this change happened sometime last week.

Looks like we now have a name for the Compact Transit System that will be used between the old and new terminals:


What do you think of this new name?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

KLM Flash Sale - Fly Business Class between Calgaryand Europe from $2699 all in!

KLM has launched another one of their amazing Business Class sales for travel from Canada to Europe and beyond! This offer is pretty great although about $200 more than the last time we saw the sale. Still getting to Europe in Business Class for as little as $2699 all in is something to write home about or present as a gift under the Christmas Tree! Oh and if you just happen to fly on the KLM flight out of Edmonton instead of YYC before the end of February you can score 5,000 Bonus Flying Blue miles! (See here for details on the YEG offer)

This business class offer needs to be booked by December 6th for travel between January 11 and April 30th. You can book this offer online right here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Security Training Exercise at YYC tonight!

If you find yourself at YYC in the terminal tonight don't be alarmed if you hear gunshots!

"Calgary, AB – The Calgary Airport Authority, and key airport and emergency response agencies will be conducting a security training exercise at Calgary International Airport (YYC) on Wednesday, November 4 from 9 p.m. until approximately midnight.

The exercise will take place within the terminal building, in an isolated area; however, passengers arriving or departing YYC during this time may hear unusual noises, including simulated gunfire. Emergency agencies will be arriving to the terminal at this time to respond to the mock scenario. There will also be a number of volunteers who will be in makeup with simulated injuries within the terminal building during this period.

The safety and security of all those who visit and work at Calgary International Airport is the Authority’s number one priority and exercises of this nature are an important part of the airport emergency preparedness program. It ensures all partners have the opportunity to practice their extensive emergency response plans."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Using WestJet Rewards Dollars and Diners Club Reward Points for WestJet flights out of Calgary

Highlights from our SFO trip
Back in July the Rewards Canada family took a vacation to San Francisco. This was quite a last minute decision on our part, it was late July and we really wanted to get away before our busy August. It was Sunday night and could travel later that week. Without going into all the search details on places we haven't been and within a few hours of home seeing we only had 3 full days we decided on San Francisco. The Rewards Canada family had never set foot in San Francisco unless you include the airport for connecting! This was an ideal location seeing that we had done Los Angeles (three times) Palm Springs and San Diego in the previous 14 months or so. Yes this is the power of miles and points, many of those trips were funded in part with loyalty programs!

Seeing that we only had three full days we wanted to ensure that we got to SFO in a short amount of time so it was decided that we would fly on WestJet's direct flights so we could use up some our WestJet dollars. As we were redeeming WestJet Dollars from multiple accounts I actually had to call in to WestJet to book the flights as you cannot redeem from multiple accounts online at the same time. The process was really simple as I just had to supply our WestJet Rewards numbers and told the agent we wanted to use our dollars for the flights. The cash portion was put on my Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard so we could also utilize Club Rewards points for a portion of the costs to make what would be an expensive flight purchase more reasonable.

WestJet Rewards redemption

Diners Club Club Rewards redemption

What initially began with flights costing $3,014.36  ended up only costing us $1,824.36. A great example of 'flexible' reward programs like WestJet Rewards and Diners Club Club Rewards. You don't have to wait until you have the full amount of points or miles. WestJet does require a balance of $25 to redeem if you don't hold one of their RBC MasterCards and that is why you only see three WestJet redemptions for the four of us travelling as my older daughter only had $24 in her account at the time of booking. You can also see however that we earned WestJet Dollars on the cash portion of the tickets which explains why my youngest daughter actually earned more on her flights than my wife or I as she redeemed less dollars. Also you may see that our Diners Club redemption was actually done nearly two months after the trip. Again another bonus of flexible credit card programs, you can continue to earn points on purchases and use them towards a past purchase. Depending on the card you carry you have anywhere from 90 days to 12 months after the charge is posted to use your points or miles!

Could we have utilized another reward program? Well I looked at using Aeroplan miles and all options required a connection with a lot longer travel time than the direct WestJet flights. With only 3 full days in San Francisco and this being a vacation, not business, we wanted to ensure we had the most time possible in SFO so the decision was made to go with the direct flights and enjoy more time in the Golden Gate city on the actual travel days.

Unfortunately the Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard is not available for new applications but you could use some of the following cards to do the same type of partial (or full) redemption towards the travel charge:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Save 20% on WestJet Plus Fares - Exclusive offer on our Rewards Canada site

As many of you know I run the site, and I wanted to pass along an exclusive offer that is currently running on RC!

You can save 20% on WestJet Plus Fares for anywhere they fly if you book by Oct 5, 2015 (9:59PM MT) for travel Sep 21 - Dec 10 (Oct 8-13 are blacked out)

For complete details on the offer and the promo codes you must use visit this post on the  Rewards Canada blog!