The Siren Call of the Lounge

Ever since I started living overseas, my frequent flights have made me a connoisseur of airport lounges. Ah yes, the free food, the comfy chairs, and most importantly, the exclusivity. It’s like having a VIP ticket to an after-concert party — not everyone’s invited.

The Hierarchy of Lounge Access

On a recent flight departure at Taoyuan Airport, my wife and I got to experience this hierarchy firsthand. She had a Silver Card from Eva Air, granting her free access to a specific tier of lounges. On the other hand, I had Gold Lounge access thanks to my credit card, which I had to pair with a Visa Infinite. But the crème de la crème? The Diamond Lounge, accessible only to first-class passengers and Diamond Card frequent flyers. 

The Reality Check

Once inside, we found ourselves in a sea of people. The Business Class section, which you’d think would be more exclusive than the Silver Card area, was even more crowded. It’s like hitting a highway toll during peak hours; you’re not going anywhere fast.

The receptionist suggested we could go to a “lower-class” lounge with fewer people but slightly less food variety. Despite the receptionist’s advice, we decided to remain in the Gold Lounge. We snagged a window seat, giving us a bird’s-eye view of the check-in counters below, a scene bustling with travellers and their luggage.

But what really caught our eye were the restaurants on the other side. They looked nice and cosy, with fewer patrons than our “exclusive” lounge. And let’s be real, the food there looked more flavorful than what we had on our plates. It’s like comparing a home-cooked nasi lemak to a convenience store version. Sure, both fill you up, but one clearly offers a richer experience. Ah, the choices we make!

The Epiphany

That’s when it hit me. Why not just pay for food at one of the restaurants outside the lounge? It’s like choosing to invest in a less popular but profitable stock—less competition, lower priced, better returns. The exclusivity of lounges seems like a privilege until it’s not. When it’s overcrowded, the food refill is slow, and the staff are stretched thin, it loses its lustre.

This was glaringly apparent when there was one time I used the KLIA Plaza Premium Lounge.

Picture this: It’s early morning, and flights are scheduled back-to-back. You walk into the lounge, and boom! Not a single seat in sight. 

And the food? Oh, you’ll have to line up for that, my friend. The food refills are slower because they are probably understaffed. And don’t even get me started on the handcrafted latte—you’d think they were growing the coffee beans right then and there, given the 30-minute wait.

But the cherry on top? The toilets. They could be filthier than the public restrooms outside, probably because the cleaning staff are as stretched thin as your patience.

The Lesson: Inner Comfort Over Outer Exclusivity

Comfort and satisfaction come in many forms, often starting from within. Whether in a lounge or outside, in business class or economy, the key is to be flexible and find comfort in any situation. But to give a fair comment, you’ve got to experience it all. It’s like diversifying your investment portfolio; you need a mix of stocks and properties to truly understand what works best for you.

So the next time you find yourself debating between the allure of an airport lounge and a restaurant outside, remember: true exclusivity isn’t just about accessit’s about the quality of the experience. And sometimes, that might mean skipping the “exclusive” lounge for a plate of nasi lemak at a quiet restaurant. After all, financial wisdom isn’t just about where you put your money; it’s also about where you find your comfort. Cheers!


Personal finance author and trainer

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