It feels trite to list my flight creds here, so I’ll just say I fly a lot and I’m usually afforded lounge access based on my volume of travel or the cabin I’m flying.
I’ve been to pretty much all the nicest and most sought after airport lounges in the world from the stunning Lufthansa First Class Terminal to Qantas First in places like Sydney and Melbourne, as well, Singapore’s Private Room and the more accessible lovely places like Virgin Clubhouses.
If you fly often enough and camp out in these places when you do, the law of averages means you’ll eventually see some people with some claim to fame in the process. I’ve had some amusing interactions through the years and also learned a lot from teams which handle these clients for airlines.
Hidden Rooms Within Lounges
The first thing to know is that you’ve probably been in a lounge when a celebrity, athlete or high level government official type is there and had no idea. I’ll share more on the chameleon skills I’ve observed, but there’s also a cheat code.
Many airlines which cater to, or regularly count high profile celebrities as customers have private rooms or spaces within their lounges. Unless you see the person make a very quick entrance or exit, they’ll be virtually invisible for the duration of their stay.
Virgin Atlantic famously has curtains that provide discrete hiding places within their JFK and Heathrow Clubhouse Lounges where those with enough clout to arrange services of this sort are whisked. I’ve seen Madonna slip in and out of these a few times.
These spaces range from what look like storage cupboards to more like boardroom style setups. Some even have en-suite bathrooms. I’ve seen many of them and frankly they’re not as fun as the lounges. It’s purely a privacy play.
Chameleon Behavior: An Artform
There’s one very clever and coy move I’ve seen over and over again and when the celeb or known person isn’t dressed like something out of a Limp Bizkit video or a children’s video game, which admittedly is rare. When they pull this feat off, they hide incredibly well.
That move is basically sitting nearest the entrance to the lounge, but sitting in a direction that faces adjacent or away from those walking in and exiting.
By doing this they’re not in view of anyone really gazing around the main space at all. People tend to hurriedly walk once their boarding pass is scanned and only get nosy once they’re in and settled in.
Another strategy I’ve seen work well is the safety in numbers, where a person is dressed fairly incognito and is with others. People tend to give less scrutiny to a small group that looks like colleagues or family.
Finally, just dressing like any quasi-normal person really works well. I wouldn’t necessarily say it makes me fortunate, but I’ve been able to rub shoulders with many high profile people in life and most aren’t as big or ridiculously glamorous as movie posters make them out to be.
Those who just rock a casual outfit and don’t do the dark glasses and brooding faces thing are often left completely unnoticed. But maybe that’s the point of the dark glasses and baseball cap thing?
Private Lounges Outside Of The Terminal
As the one percent of 1%’ers — and celebrities too — increasingly find plebs harder to deal with, there’s been a meteoric rise of airport “lounges” that you won’t get into with airline status or a standard credit card. They’re also not even in the terminal.
Services like PS @ LAX have stormed the market, now expanding to places like Atlanta and Miami too. They accompany stalwarts like Heathrow VIP, Changi VIP and others which provide an extraordinary experience, bypassing the public airport terminals almost entirely.
Think a minimum of $1000 per passenger for a private space away from the public terminal with private security and a ride in a prestige level car to the plane. Some even offer private immigration so you don’t have to think about lines!
Very Little Drinking, Or A Whole Lot
This is purely anecdotal, but it’s been an interesting one to observe. In Facebook groups you actually often see similar mentions with this theme. In short, I rarely see anyone commercially famous drinking in lounges or on board. When I do, they’re on quite an enjoyment ride.
I know that people are often on their way to a premiere, interview, gig or something that requires a level of freshness and looking the part and I’ve often heard this is why there’s a pretty strict routine followed. For what it’s worth I rarely drink on board or in the lounge these days as I follow a strict jet lag routine.
Like I said, whenever someone does seem to be drinking, they’re often hitting it pretty hard which has lead to a few interesting encounters and some missed flights!