Friday, July 11, 2014

Lounge Lizard

As everyone who knew my husband was well aware, Jim was a frequent flyer junky.

He liked nothing better than accumulating miles – largely through credit card promotions – and using those miles. Especially when he could fly business or first class.

Now, having flown at all levels, from the most primitive of steerage on up through coach-plus, business, and first, the higher up the flying food chain, the better. The seats of comfier, the service is better, the food is edible, it’s quieter, and usually there’s some gifty little swag.

That said, since pretty much all I do on a flight is doze and read, I’m not the fussy about where I’m sitting.

Like any other normally sentient human being, I prefer not to be in the middle seat of the middle five across in the middle of a jammed 747.

Other than that…

Sure, if the skies were the limit, I’d fly business or first. But they’re not. So I don’t.

But Jim, partially because he was claustrophobic and partially just because, really and truly loved flying business or first. And part of what he most enjoyed was the having access to the first class lounge.

Here Jim did, of course, had a point.

Who wouldn’t rather sit in a comfortable chair, in a quiet environment, with cleaner rest rooms, with free drinks and snacks – and access to your flight that doesn’t involve a cattle call?

On a number of overseas trips, we enjoyed the perks of the Lufthansa, Aer Lingus, and Air France lounges.

Jim’s days of worrying about the first class lounge have, alas, ended. But, as it turns out, a first-class or business frequent  flyer begotten ticket on Lufthansa would no longer have gotten him into the luxe lounge. That’s because of a German trimmer who ate:

…for free 35 times in a year at Lufthansa’s Munich airport lounge without actually taking a flight, exploiting the change rules on a business-class ticket he had bought. (Source: Business Week)

Friedrich the Freeloader didn’t get away with it, however:

A German court ordered the man to repay Lufthansa €1,980 ($2,710), or about €55 for each time he visited the lounge. The man had bought a single ticket for about €744 and changed the date of travel repeatedly, exploiting the flexibility offered by that fare class. The airline canceled the ticket after more than a year and refunded the money. “Lufthansa pursued a prosecution only after the man bought the second ticket with the intention of resuming his foraging raids,” Bloomberg News reporter Richard Weiss wrote on Wednesday.

Anyway, thanks to this nosher, Lufthansa – like most US airlines – has decoupled the lounge from the ticket class. Now you have to be a true über flyer, or pay to join the club on an annual or ad hoc basis.

As for the frequent diner, it’s not clear whether this fellow actually flew on other tickets on those 35 days when he ate Chez Lufthansa, but it’s hard to imagine someone making 35 dedicated trips to Munich airport just to cadge some free food. Especially given what was on offer:

The Munich facility at Lufthansa second-biggest hub offers Bavaria’s Loewenbraeu beer on tap, together with local delicacies including leberkas meatloaf and sausages with sweet mustard. (Source: Business Week)

Liver cheese meatloaf?

Danke, but no danke.

But maybe if you’re from Munich…

Anyway, reading these stories made me think of Jim.

Not that it takes much to bring him to mind. All I need to do is look around. But sometimes things come up that I’d really like to share with him, and this is one of them. And it’s definitely one of te ones that has put a smile on my face.

(Oh, my dear sweet frequent flyer…)

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