I got off my overnight flight from Washington to London in pretty good shape. (Yes, I’m writing at 2 am since my body clock thinks it’s 8pm.) The reason I was in pretty good shape was that I had been upgraded to the business section to make room in economy for someone. It would seem that my miles status plays in my favor when flights are oversold and they need to move people around to open space. Regular customers who have certain point status move toward the front of the plane to open seats for passengers who have tickets but no seats. In this case I was the beneficiary of the oversold flight. By moving me and a couple of other people around, a family of four got seats! And I got better rest. I am thankful.
Now I have been building points for a while and had gained some perks (like skipping lines and such) but had never yet risen to the level to go and hang out in the lounge.
The lounge, I had heard, was this welcoming, restful place where there were spacious comfortable chairs, ample food and beverage of all kinds and people taking away dirty dishes as soon as you finished (yes, I said dishes), wifi, TV, tables to work at, computers to work at, and get this… USA plugs for charging gadgets, no need to dig for adapters. I had even heard that these places were quiet. That concept of quiet is absent from any airport I’ve ever spent four hours in, especially Heathrow terminal 3.
The main way people gain access to the lounge, it seems, is to buy a business or first class ticket. If you’ve ever, out of curiosity, checked the price on these tickets, you know why I fly economy. But that ticket price gets you a lot if you can afford it: space, comfort, better food (brought to you in courses not just on a tray), and service. And I don’t mean a little better. I mean you get all the attention you could wish for. If you can afford it, you really can get what you pay for, and you get the lounge.
Friends who were more frequent flyers than I had told me about these places and I hoped to see and experience it one day when I had enough points to reach that level (that’s the other way in, go up through the frequent flyer program). But I had not seen such a place.
The way to gain entrance is to be invited in. There is an airline employee at the front who examines your boarding pass. See, your boarding pass contains a good deal more information about you than just your name, date, gate, flight and seat numbers. If you’re a member of the mileage program, it also tells your level. My boarding pass stated that I was one level below entry. I was not quite good enough.
It has become my routine to go to a paid lounge (for those who don’t have the proper credentials but wish the perks of a lounge and are willing to part with about $60 for a couple hours service) to take a shower. For about $15 I can grab a shower and put on clean clothes and it really makes the rest of the traveling day way more pleasant. Just beyond the entrance to this paid lounge, which is actually a pub with a buffet, is the entrance to the lounge.
My dad used to say “the worst they can say is ‘no.'”
So I went in and spoke to the gatekeeper. He check my membership number, looked on his computer, saw my status, listened to my request, asked for my boarding pass, looked back at the computer, and said…
Whoa. I went through, away from the crowds, the noise, into a restful place where there is space, quiet and USA plugs to charge my gadgets.
See, I didn’t really measure up to get in. I didn’t deserve to go in to this place of plenty, quiet and rest. The guy at the desk extended grace.
Someday, if there were to be a gate keeper in heaven who asked me why he should let me in, I’d tell them, because of the work of Jesus that I have faith in, Jesus has invited me in. I don’t measure up. I don’t have enough points, but He’s the owner, he made the place, paid for my ticket, and invited me in.
If there were such a gatekeeper, and after death you found yourself there and we’re asked why you should be allowed to enter that place of rest, what would you say?