Knowing if you are allowed access to airline lounges is generally fairly straightforward. Airline websites are usually pretty clear and there are some rules of thumb such as almost always getting access when flying in first class or business class.

Naturally, there are always going to be those who attempt to gain access when they are not eligible. Here’s what the experience is like on the other side, from someone who worked as the gatekeeper of a door to lounges at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5.

Guest post by 13901.

I had a very brief experience as ‘lounge dragon’ and ‘Million dollar door bouncer’ back in my days in Heathrow Customer Services and it was an insight in how low so-called grown ups can sink. All kinds of subterfuge took place – ranging from the inventive to the utterly miserable – to gain entrance to a lounge.

Trying It On

I heard sob stories of breakups and accidents that, somehow, could only be rectified by gaining entry to the lounge and sipping a glass of average Champagne. I’ve had women trying to flirt with me, including one who parked her rather prominent, erm, front bumpers on my desk as if a peep could justify her sauntering into the British Airways Galleries North Lounge, the palace of stale croissants and people on conference calls.

Then there were those – and they were legion – who paraded the American Airlines ‘Gold’ card as something akin to Tolkien’s Rings of Power, thus giving them the right to a seat in Galleries B and the first born of any lounge attendant (while, it’s worth noting, that card is just a oneworld Ruby, which does not give lounge access).

There were those who pretended to be coming in looking for the loo, or so engrossed in a call that they couldn’t stop, or the ‘I’ve just gotten out, I’m coming back in’ crowd, or those who tried to hide behind a queue of people. Finally there were those who insulted me, said that me and my colleagues were harlots (or words to that extent), effin’ bureaucrats, wished us to die and so on.

No Access To Airline Lounges For You!

The pinnacle of this pyramid of human misery happened at the ‘million dollar door’ to the British Airways Concorde Room. I remember a man – a grown man from Someplace, USA, with a backpack adorned by the logo of some software company – going so ballistic at me for not being allowed through the Concorde Room door that the security team nearby stopped doing what they were doing and stood by in case he went for it. The abuse was torrential, and the second worst of my life, though over time it got a bit repetitive.

Apparently, having to go downstairs and up again (sure, an inconvenience) was the pits and, to quote George Bush Sr, an aggression that would not stand. Then he saw the little podium with the four faces that you can use to send feedback about something, remember those? You know, the one with the smiley green face, the so-and-so greenish one, the ‘meh’ amber and the frowny red? Well, he saw that and he pounded that thing. I mean, he properly slammed his meaty fist on the red button while his puffy face went crimson and he screamed “NOT HAPPY” at the top of his lungs. The sad thing was that the little faces were there to provide feedback on the security queue and not me.

Overall Thoughts

So there you have it, a few little stories illustrating the lengths people will go to get into an airline lounge. Is it really necessary to be rude to the staff? Is the stress of travel so great that all decorum is thrown to the wind? While a lounge is a nicer place to wait than by the gate, you do have to wonder how some people are brought up.

I don’t know if I’d survive the gauntlet faced by customer service staff at airports on a daily basis. Have you ever witnessed a grown adult throwing their toys out of the pram when trying to get access to airline lounges? I’d love to hear about it if so. Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Concorde Room door image via Head for Points.
Thanks to 13901 for allowing me to publish this here. Much appreciated!