I guess I just don’t get it. Why is access to airport executive clubs so coveted, everyone think they are so great, and rush to them the second they arrive at the airport? You see them sneaking in with their black carry-on bags and laptop messengers, flashing their badges and passes and front-of-the-plane boarding passes, then disappearing into what you can only assume is airport Narnia. The air of exclusivity is intoxicating.
Well, after spending some time in these clubs over the past several days, weeks, and months, I’m here to tell you – I’ve decided they only exist to keep the elitists away from the us plebs.Those places are horrible. I’ll never go into another airport executive club again. We lower class flyers actually have it better out in the world. That said, I have more questions about why these places are supposed to be so good. The first one is, what’s the fucking deal?
Is it the free food? Can’t be. It’s terrible. Most airports now have high-quality restaurants in their terminals and concourses that rival what you can get in the real world. The club food is fucking awful. Stale snacks and reheated food only slightly one step above that which you get on the actual plane is not worthy of praise, nor consumption. You think a couple chunks of cheese, some trail mix, chicken noodle soup and a dicey looking quinoa salad is going to get me excited? And as for the free part, fuck it. If you travel and have the type of lifestyle that affords you access to a club, chances are you have enough money to afford a $15 salad, burger or burrito at a better place.
Is it the free alcohol? Admittedly, this is a tougher one. Free booze is a key perk of life, but let’s not assume all free booze is good booze. That’s like saying because the guy in the windowless van has free candy and toys in the back, he must be good with kids and, therefor, is a trustworthy guy and a good choice to deliver your kids from school. Club alcohol selections are generally pretty pathetic. Cheap whiskey, bad beer, and wine that only barely qualifies. Of course, that doesn’t stop the hoards of club-goers from sucking it down by the barrel. So, like the food, get out and get something of quality. Spend the $10 for a good glass of wine before wheels-up. Besides, do you really want to hang out with the guy who drinks 8 free beers before 7:30 in the morning. That’s what you get in the club.
I admit having access to showers and slightly less crowded bathrooms might seem like a perk, but once you see with whom you are sharing these barely upgraded facilities, I think you’ll see that it’s worth just hanging out with the general public and actually availing yourself of some of the many quality sanitizing wipes, waterless shower kits, and other cool travel toiletries you can get at your local Walgreens or outdoor sports co-op. I’m mean, just because it’s an exclusive club doesn’t mean you should go around touching everything. Germs aren’t exclusive to the middle class.
So, were down to the better chairs, couches, tables, power outlets, TVs, free wifi, and other areas in which to lounge and gadgets to use before your flight. Surely that must be the selling point. No fucking way. Those places are dark and bleak. There is no life left in there. The media spews shit on TV and the gadgets and tech toys are just a con to make you think you are getting something the others that aren’t in the club aren’t. See! An air of exclusivity. Look. A stock ticker. Sweet. Come on, man. Airports all have free wifi now. There’s even a smartphone app that gives you all the airport free wifi passwords. Power outlets are everywhere, you can get any media you want on your own devices, and just man up and get your own freakin battery charger – they’re cheap and useful.
As for the more comfortable seats, screw ’em. The club model gives you the impression of having space to stretch out. All the pictures they send you are of vast open spaces with plenty of seating available. We’ll, forget it. Yeah, the seats can be nice, but the places are packed with people that think they have the right to spread out. I mean, shit is everywhere and the sense of entitlement coming from the patrons is incredible. Dirty dishes are all over the place because people don’t clean after themselves and there is never adequate staff. You’re way to close to get privacy, and you have to listen to every important fucking phone call from every important fucking person in the joint. It’s not comfortable in there. No one respects your space, because these are the types of people that are simply more important than you. At least out with the common man there is a sense of togetherness and common purpose. These clubs are like thunderdome and generally filled with people too unpleasant to sit near by accident, let alone on purpose.
That brings me to the people. The clubbies. The elite. Those who would generally not condescend to consort with the likes of me. There seem to be two types of people that visit the airport executive clubs, both are easy to spot and the types are even easier to differentiate.
The first group is filled with the club regulars – the mostly men, mostly bald, mostly fat, and mostly – based on how they look and sound – on the verge of death. These are the guys who travel so much for work and who basically live in these disgusting places. They even smell like the clubs – a mixture of bad cologne samples, airplane air freshener, and stale farts and body odor caused by eating the reheated curry or other bad airport club food. Chances are pretty good that the average club regular is on the downhill side of life and wants to take you with them.
The second group is more interesting. This group consists of people who just got their first club pass in the mail when they got their airline frequent flier credit cards. They actually smile a bit. They are so excited to be in the club – at first. They walk the place, wide-eyed, examining all the offerings, locating the facilities, checking out the other people, and wandering about until they find the right place to sit. My guess is, they won’t be back. At least they shouldn’t be back.
Airport clubs are fucking horrible. The food sucks. The alcohol, too – even if it is free. They fail to deliver on any perceived promise and the people are generally unpleasant.
I’d much rather be out in the real world with the happy travelers – the ones going on an adventure or visiting family. At least these people generally respect each other. After all, we’re all in this thing together, right?
I’d rather take advantage of what airport life has to offer everyone. Ever been to the Singapore airport? That place is amazing, with botanic gardens, art installations and cafes and restaurants and shopping. So much better than a stupid club with its reheated Indian food, free box wine, and a bunch of balding fat guys you can hear breathing from 10 feet away. check out the Austin airport, Denver, or Indianapolis Airport sometime. They’re excellent and are getting better every day. Take advantage of them. Hang out with people and share stories. Watch people come and go. Feel the pulse of the traveling public. Buy a scone and a cappuccino for fucks sake.
Stay out of the clubs. But if you really need to go, you want my passes? I’ll sell them to you for $50 each so I can buy better food at the airport.