Friday, 7 November 2008

WINGÉD THOUGHTS


“I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I must say that for the person who needs to travel often, airline frequent flyer lounges are a great boon. One does have to pay an annual membership fee, but it is well worth it even if one uses the lounge on 5 or 6 occasions in the year. I am a member of the Qantas Club and get to frequently use the club lounge wherever I travel as there are lounges at all Australian airports. Some international airports are also part of the Qantas Club and when one travels a lot it is gratifying to have a place where one find refuge in away from the usual mad rush of an air terminal.

I am in Sydney today for work and it has been a day of meetings, which overall went very well. However, there was not time for lunch and one can only have so many coffees during the course of a day full of discussions. The lounge at the airport at the end of the day has been quite a blessing. There different areas and one may choose a lounge where one can relax on easy chairs sipping a cool drink or coffee from the café and read a paper or a magazine; a couple of bars where complimentary alcoholic drinks are served; some snack and food counters where one may help oneself to food appropriate for the time of day; as well as airline service counters where one may get one’s boarding pass or book another flight. Needless to say that a business centre is always available with computers, printers, faxes, meeting rooms, free wireless internet and of course toilet, shower facilities where one can freshen up.

The food in these lounges is not a true, substantial meal, but one may eat very well and enjoy some delicacies that are representative of the better side of airline food. Most of the day there is soup available that one may help oneself to, with croutons or fresh rolls to accompany it. Creamy roast pumpkin soup is a favourite of mine, although as the year progresses towards summer one may enjoy spring vegetable, cream of asparagus or tomato soup. The cheeses on offer are usually very good, with tasty cheddar alternating with brie or camembert, or an excellent Australian blue. At lunchtime or evening there are various hot tidbits including mini quiches, sausage rolls, fried morsels of fish, chicken nuggets, bacon and tomato tartlets, sandwiches, a range of sliced meats, ham, smoked salmon, some vegetarian tidbits. There are always a couple of salad selections and various bits and pieces like nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, water crackers, rice crackers, etc, etc.

Once again it’s a case of being able to eat all sorts of things, without eating a plate full of a “proper meal” and in fact reach a level of satiety very quickly. I would much rather have this smorgasbord to choose from rather than a tray of rather uninspiring airline food on the plane. In fact when I on the plane, I decline the offer of food on board, having eaten to satiety in the lounge.

Watching the people in the lounge is a very interesting occupation. Mostly it is business travellers, but what a variety of them. The sleek well dressed executives with not a hair out of place, the middle management types, rather more casually dressed, the progressive creative types with that daggy, careless look that has cost a fortune, and occasionally the tradesmen with shorts and T-shirts, who nevertheless probably earn more than all the previous types mentioned. There occasional exceptions: The young families, the elderly couples, the solo young travellers, the “hangers-on” (one may bring one guest along with one’s membership).

The range of activity and inactivity is also quite vast. From the exhausted sleeping toddler in his mother’s arms, to the very relaxed businesswoman reading a magazine while sipping a glass of champagne in an armchair, to the group of executives watching the giant screen TV over a beer in a good mood because of a business deal success, to the young couple sipping coffee while gazing at each other’s eyes, to the frantic manager trying to get his computer to print a vital report, to the blasé creative department type chatting idly on her i-phone, to the rather overwhelmed elderly man who is obviously a hanger on, watching with incredulity at the busy goings on…

And the best thing of course knowing that it’s Friday afternoon and very soon there will be a call over the PA system informing you that your flight is boarding at Gate 23 and that in 70 minutes you will be home…

Have a good weekend, everyone!

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