Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Making Flying Tolerable: The Joys of Airline Lounge Lizardry

 We experienced a technical problem yesterday while trying to publish an earlier version of this post. We’ve asked the creator of the publishing app we use for help, and in the meantime we’re trying another way from our Larnaca, Cyprus hotel room.

Lounge Lizard: “A person who frequents bars or cocktail lounges…”

Airport lounge access can ease the impact of lengthy flying itineraries. Our current trip provides a great example, a total of roughly 18 hours in the air on three flights, punctuated by connecting and changing terminals at two airports.

From the time we awoke about 3:30 AM in our Vancouver hotel to our eventual arrival at our hotel in Larnaca, Cyprus, well over 30 hours passed. Yet, as we sat in our third lounge of the trip in London Heathrow’s Terminal 5, we felt curiously refreshed.

Vancouver’s terminal for US-bound flights, includes pre-clearance by US immigration officers. It opens currently at 4:30 AM. We arrived a few minutes later.

There are only two lounges in the “transborder” terminal, an Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge and an independent Plaza Premium Lounge. The only way we got in to the latter was the fact that Kathy’s Hilton Amex Surpass credit card gives us 10 entries a year. Surprisingly, First Class on an international AA flight doesn’t give you access.

Thst lounge opens at 5 AM and the machine-made Cappuccino (with the addition of our usual shot of Espresso) was fantastic.

At DFW we enjoyed an American Airlines Flagship Lounge, as noted in our previous post. We assembled a tasty buffet dinner, complemented by Champagne. This enabled us to skip dinner on our DFW-LHR flight and get some sleep shortly after takeoff.

Brian did graciously accept the flight attendant’s offer of the tasty appetizer course.

We also enjoyed the light fruit plate offered before landing, as opposed to the heavier American breakfast.

There was some sort of medical emergency on board our flight, and the flight attendants solicited assistance over the P.A. as we were flying over Goose Bay, Labrador, but we didn’t divert.

Upon landing at LHR, passengers were asked to remain seated while a couple of EMTs boarded, but we were soon allowed to deplane a couple of rows at a time into Terminal 3 and found our way to the bus transfer to T5 quickly. 

As a consequence, we had more than four hours to rejuvenate in the BA Galleries First Lounge, thanks to our OneWorld Emerald status. 

First, a Cappuccino ordered on our phones and served at our table thanks to technology and a convenient app.

We followed this with luxurious showers, again reserved through the app.

Feeling thoroughly refreshed, despite being sleep deprived, we both partook of some breakfast.

We then relaxed and enjoyed the view, watching the sun rise.

Brian sampled the quite decent house pour of Palmer & Company Reserve Brut, while admiring the gigantic bottle of rosé on display.

That’s at least one size bigger than the gigantic bottle (a Jeroboam?) son David contributed to our family Christmas celebration. A Methuselah perhaps?

There’s no question we faded a bit, and tried to rest on our five-hour LHR-LCA flight, but it was cramped on the A321, even with a blocked middle seat.

We reserved the well-regarded George Taxi to meet us after we immigration at LCA and transport us to the IHG Hotel Indigo. A driver was waiting for us and drove us promptly to the hotel. A bed seldom looked so good.

All in all, our access to airline lounges turned what would otherwise be an 8,530-mile ordeal into a fairly pleasant experience, at least until the last couple of hours.

You can often buy one-time access to a lounge in large airports. Check Lounge Buddy or similar websites and apps or, if you’re stuck at an airport for several hours, just ask the employees of the first lounge you see. In some circumstances it can be money well spent.

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