February 25, 2006

Rubbing shoulders

I've had Air Canada elite status for four months or so, and I've flown during that time - but I can't be all blase about it yet - and I don't want to be. I can walk into the maple leaf lounges and still get that feeling of, they're going to figure out that I don't belong here! and these drinks can't really be free! am I allowed to take the paper away with me? But mostly, I walk into the lounge at Pearson and goof off on the internet. Why not...

I'm not saying the lounges make travel a happy time. Just... a bit less obnoxious. But the elite status does have its privileges... when my luggage and I failed to be reunited in Banff, for example, there was much better service (and a toiletry kit) after they saw the orange and blue card. But at that moment, I didn't feel special, I just wanted my suitcase! (later, of course, I realized that lost luggage isn't such a bad deal - they'll deliver it to your hotel, saving you from humping it there... and I should be careful what I say here, I do have both a suitcase and a ski bag in the bowels of Heathrow airport right now). But I started noticing other changes: when I book my flights now, I have much better choice of seats. I can swan right by the snaking line at the check-in and feel like a fraud when I present myself at the executive counter.

I am not a blase business traveller. I am not a business traveller! I get excited every time I get to go someplace (anyplace! ok, mostplace!) I think a cheap toiletry kit thrown in with a $1000 ticket is special! So imagine what I thought when last night the ticket agent at the desk ripped up my boarding pass - and gave me one for a seat in the executive first section instead. Even though I didn't have a blue upgrade certificate, just one of the silly gold ones that require you to be travelling on a fare class significantly higher than I would ever be inspired to book... but there I was - one minute, I'm standing in the queue to board, the next, the ticket agent is pointing at me and crooking his finger, come here (we'd had an earlier exchange, he already knew my name).

But here's what I don't get - I'm lounging in the London Lounge ("scandinavian living room", they call the concept), and there are all sorts of people here. There are a lot of the types I'd expect - you know, air of business suit even if no suit in evidence. And then there are the obvious wealth sorts of people. But why so many people who are clearly undergraduate students (in some cases, the sweatpants have the university emblazoned across the butt), clearly not travelling with daddy, clearly too young to have a job that sends you to so many places that the status miles rack up in some years (Like they did for me in 2005). What gives?

Yeah. Country bumpkin for sure. And my executive first experience has added another toiletry kit to my collection...

(I would also like to know why business travellers are not all fat. It was all eating and sleeping on that red-eye... and I didn't do that much sleeping.)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go scope out the snacks in this here lounge...

Posted by Johanna at February 25, 2006 11:32 AM

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