Monday, October 23, 2006

The finer things

A priviledged life.
Tones? Muted. Palettes? Bland, gray.
The stench of status.

I travel for work. A lot. So much that this year I achieved Air Canada Elite Status well before the December 31st deadline. I received my card and dutifully attached my luggage tag, not fully realizing the significance of being deemed as Elite. What does it mean? Not a whole lot: lounge access prior to your flight, upgrades to business class, some extra points. I've already visited the lounges in a couple, albeit smaller, air ports (Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec) when traveling with my boss (Status: Super Elite). It's nice to have a free BEvERage or two and some snacks, but I never thought of it as a big deal. Until today.

I used to cut it close with my flights out of Toronto. But since the onset of the new carry-on rules (rant: the airline's attempt at making passengers feel safe from terrorist threats by banishing the most inane items, but still letting you have whatever it was they were adamantly against two months ago) I've started coming to the airport well in advance of even the recommended lead time. Today I was early enough to have the privilege of visiting the Air Canada lounge in Terminal 1. I was totally unprepared for what greeted me as I got off the elevator.

First, this place is massive. It's 20,000 carpeted square feet with heaps of chairs and tables for, I guess, lounging. The style is fit for a trendy downtown club. There's access to conference rooms and (ready for this?) showers. God forbid anyone with status have that weary, haggard look of most travelers. Second: An army couldn't consume all the food and drink. There's hot soup, a salad bar, a fully stocked alcohol bar, huge bowls of fresh fruit everywhere. Third: Huge panoramic windows look over the runway and Mississauga skyline.

Right now I'm comfortably seated in my leather lounge chair, enjoying free internet and the steaming hot 100% Colombian coffee resting on the marble table in front of me. I decided against food since I got upgraded to business class and I know I'll be provided with a hot, free meal during my flight. Maybe its because I'm currently reading a series of lectures by Stephen Lewis about the dire situation in Africa, but this all just strikes me as being so excessive. But hey, as Ron Burgundy says, 'When in Rome...'