Waiting for my flight from Calgary to San Francisco for RSA 2011 I was able to spend some time in the Maple Leaf Lounge – access afforded to me by my frequent traveling and accumulation of Aeroplan miles. Now, I’m a fairly paranoid person when it comes to my personal effects and airports. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen the movie Brokedown Palace too many times and don’t want to be thrown in jail for inadvertantly trying to smuggle someone else’s illicit narcotics between countries or maybe I just don’t trust people not to pilfer my stuff. If you walk around any airport in North America (I say North America as I haven’t spent much time overseas, nor have I noticed similar activity when I do travel abroad) you’ll often hear airport-wide announcements reminding passengers not to leave baggage unattended and to never carry something for someone else. As a result, many people do mind their luggage (some clinging to laptop bags and purses as if the secret police might try and rip it from their clutches) whilst others (arguably fewer since 9/11 and security at airports increased) continue to chase after their children, visit the bathroom and shop at the duty free store completely oblivious to the safety of their possessions left back at the public seating area (want to bet that these are the same people that kick my seat, let their babies cry because they don’t believe in soothers and rush to unbuckle their seat belts to rush to the front of the plane prior to it even reaching the gate?).
What I’ve noticed, however, is that once people walk through those doors to the executive lounge, all common sense goes out the window. Perhaps its the promise of free food and drinks that drive people to leave their laptops, phones, luggage and wallets (yes, I’ve actually seen people leave their wallets unattended) unattended? Perhaps its the imposing middle-aged women guarding the entrance to the lounge that reassures the travelers as she checks to make sure only other people of status are allowed into the lounge of milk and honey? Maybe its that many of the people within the lounge are wearing suits or at least look like business professionals, and not criminals? Then it came to me. I think the reason that people feel so comfortable leaving their things unguarded within the confines of the executive airport lounge is that they feel that they are amongst a better class of people who, like them, have money, status and material things. Since their brethren are also cut from the same cloth as they are, the traveller with status need not fear the afflictions that plague the lowly coach-class travelers.
What most people of status fail to remember is that access to these lounges can be acquired several ways. One can pay a pittance to the Airline Gods for a one-time pass into the lounge (a very nominal fee if you plan on robbing the place blind). One can simply fly all over hell and creation, racking up enough points to be invited into the club. Finally, you can pay for the privilege of access for 1 year – sounds about as exclusive as a Dinners Club card doesn’t it? So, fellow travelers who happen to frequent the airport lounges of the world, let down not your guard and remain vigilant – even when faced with cushy chairs and free pints of Guinness.