Air Canada Maple Leaf Club has a current promotion offering 10% discount for a membership which is available in different versions including one that offers access to all Star Alliance Lounges worldwide.
These paid lounge memberships require the passenger to be on a Star Alliance flight to use the partner lounges but otherwise enjoys the same lounge privileges as a Star Alliance Gold member.
Paid lounge access even for their top tier elite members is a North American phenomenon that requires their customers to pay for access to the domestic airport lounges, irrespective if they already have a Business Class ticket or Elite Status.
International Star Alliance Gold members, meaning those from programs outside North America, such as Lufthansa Miles&More, Turkish Airlines, Thai Airways etc always have access to these lounges even on domestic tickets. Getting the coveted Star Alliance Gold Status either through methods is in the focus of many travelers since it comes with serious perks including lounge access. Earning enough miles for Gold Status can take some time depending on your airline, program and the types of tickets purchased. In the meanwhile these paid memberships can make life a lot more comfortable.
You can access the offer from Air Canada here (valid until 9th June 2016).
Air Canada Maple Leaf Club offers three types of memberships.
With the current promotional offer of 10%, a membership just for North America runs 445 CAD (340 USD) which is already considerably cheaper than the option United Airlines offers their Top Tier 1K members which would be 450 USD. The North American package has a bonus of allowing access to partner lounges in Paris, London and Frankfurt for those who travel to Europe on occasion. It does not include a guest option though. You would also earn 3000 Aeroplan miles.
The more interesting option for international travelers might be the Worldwide Membership which includes access to pretty much any Star Alliance Lounge available including taking one guest. This membership costs 599 CAD (459 USD). This membership offers 5000 Aeroplan miles on top.
Here are the options for Bangkok Airport as an example.
Another option includes adding a spouse/domestic partner for an additional 270 CAD (207 USD). In regards to this it says:
Partner memberships are available to the spouse of a member only. Spouse is defined as the personal (not business) partner of a member who shares the same residential address as the member, and proof of such may be required by Air Canada at any time.
So at least on paper you can’t sign up just anyone but I’d be willing to bet there won’t be any scrutiny no matter who you nominate as your partner. So if you have a friend who is interested in such a membership you could share the price of a Double membership and bring the price down to 335 USD per person/year.
Paying for a lounge membership is always a decision that requires a bit of planning to see if it’s really worth it. The same goes for the purchase of a Priority Pass which offers a wide selection of partner lounges (some include regular airline lounges as well such as Air China in Beijing) especially since the Priority Pass is included in some Premium Credit Cards already.
As far as this offer is concerned it might make sense for people who are unable to achieve Star Alliance Gold Status anytime soon but still want to enjoy the airport lounges. For example, if you fly a lot within Europe on cheap Lufthansa Tickets that earn no miles at all (125 miles per segment with Miles&More) you could still use the Maple Leaf Lounge Membership to access the local Lufthansa Business Class Lounges.