The Man Who Wanted Into an Airport Lounge More Than Anyone Else in the World

I used airline lounges a few times when I was a kid.

  • Once I went to New York LaGuardia with my grandmother in what was probably the late 1970s to wait for my grandfather’s flight to come in. I remember thinking bar snacks and free ginger ale was pretty cool (I’d have been about 5 years old).

  • On the way back from Australia at 16 I was traveling alone with a 6 hour connection in Dallas. I had flown American Sydney – Honolulu – Dallas and was waiting for American’s flight to Fresno, so my uncle gave me a pass to use.

After that I don’t think I was in another lounge until my first Australia trip after college. I had booked a United business class award and used the lounge before flying Sydney – Los Angeles.

I knew I got to use the lounge because I was departing in international business class. I somehow didn’t think that conferred me access for my domestic flight to DC though. So I snuck into United’s Red Carpet Club at LAX even though I legitimately had access.

I’ve gone to some pretty significant efforts to get into some of the world’s best airport lounges. But nothing like the man who would buy and refund an airline ticket each day using that ticket to gain lounge access and eat free for a year or the man who did the same thing 36 times with Lufthansa’s lounges and got billed by the airline for 2000 euros.

Still I do love the salt and pepper squid in the Qantas first class lounge in Sydney. I love the massages in the Thai Airways spa in Bangkok. I marvel at the 14th century artwork and the sheer design of the Qatar Airways al-Safwa lounge in Qatar.

In my entire life though I’ve never wanted into a lounge — let alone a U.S. airline’s lounge — this badly.

Amber Renea Thomas shares this video of a passenger desperate to visit the American Airlines D/E Admirals Club in Charlotte after closing and long after the fresh guacamole station was put away for the night.

It was after 11 p.m. and the club had been closed for at least 45 minutes. Reportedly he’d been told 30 minutes earlier that the club was closed. He wouldn’t leave.

This man was determined. When one arm gets tired he starts using his other arm to bang on the glass. He wipes perspiration from his brow.

Our videographer was still in the club because on her way out she was having trouble with her boarding pass. The airline had rebooked her and it turns out the reissue needed work to sort out. So staff stayed late. Our hero though wouldn’t give up!

Persistence is usually key to getting good service — hang up, call back — but this is ridiculous.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Without knowing more details, I’d be willing to give the guy some benefit of doubt. Maybe he forgot something very important in the lounge and came to retrieve it? He seems desperate and it can’t be the food in an AC. 🙂

  2. I am thinking there was a real reason behind this. Maybe a passport he forgot in the lounge, a laptop or wallet. I doubt someone will be that determined for a free drink.

  3. Heartwarming to think a few commenters willing to give benefit of doubt despite the.guy being told lounge was closed (presumably by someone who he could talk to and request missing passport, but who then just blew him off??).

    I’d just chalk being a doucebag up to DYKWIA Syndrome. Far more likely scenario…

  4. OMG – he takes persistence to a new level! If he’d left something he could’ve gone to find a manager or something and explained his situation – I don’t think that’s the case with this guy, however, you never know…

  5. Come on Marc, that Guy isn’t as Big as that Sow that resides in the Whitehouse. Roast the Pig! Russian style, lol

  6. Personally speaking, I really never understood why anyone ever wanted to get into an airline lounge to begin with.
    I try to arrive at the airport as late as possible and leave it as soon as possible. I don’t want to eat bad food or enjoy overpriced service 😉

  7. It’s about the defecation chambers. The peoples poop stalls are god awful in every US airport

  8. I agree that he must have forgotten something very important in the lounge. Maybe when he had stopped in the first time and was told it was closed he left something behind? It’s really sad that nobody even attempted to check to see why he was knocking the second time.

  9. The AC staff went to the door and checked to see what he needed and told him it was closed. I don’t know what he, I could only hear the AC staff member repeating the lounge was closed. But I don’t think he left anything as they were debating whether to call the police or whether to send a manager out. When I left, they had decided to send a manager.

  10. Would it have been too much trouble for someone to find out what he needed?

    Minor point but that is the C Admirals Club at CLT although the door he is banging on leads to the D & E concourses.

  11. @Brian S +1

    “Knock-Knock-Knockin’ on Admiral’s Door”.

    I like this guy. Maybe this was just a timely protest of Citi stripping Admiral’s Club access from the Citi Prestige card on July 23.

    Maybe he needed help with a boarding pass too.

    Staying in the club after closing time really isn’t much different than trying to access the club after closing time. If there were other pax getting help in the club they should have let him.

  12. Without knowing more details, I’d be willing to give the guy some benefit of doubt. Maybe he forgot something very important in the lounge and came to retrieve it? He seems desperate and it can’t be the food in an AC.

  13. I was left inside the DCA US Airways Club after it closed for the night. The staff came by and informed me they would be closing in 20 minutes. I continued to drink and I lost track of time. I realized it had been at least 45 minutes since the agent came around. I went to the front and saw they had pulled out a pocket door between the lobby and the lounge to close it. All the staff were long gone. I considered raiding the bar, but decided that may get me in worse trouble. There was a normal door in the pocket door. Was it locked? Was there an alarm on it? Should I call the Chairmans Desk and tell them I’m locked in the lounge? Ultimately I just opened the door and walked out. Thankfully no alarms sounded. 🙂

  14. I ran into this guy in the terminal and he said his name was Reese and had been tapping on the glass to protest all airline lounges. He said that it is unfair that people pay to get access yet not all passengers are allowed in for free. He feels that the other passengers in the airport should pay for everyone to access the lounge. This is so that less fortunate passengers can have free and equal access to things they didn’t pay for or earn through hard work. I told I didn’t agree and he called me a racist.

  15. Typical trump deplorable words.

    Maybe you’re not racist, just imbecile.

    You either have access to lounges and don’t give a damn about others or is too stupid to understand you’re being used.

    You’re about to lose your health insurance, vote for trump again so he can now strip social security too from you.

    Eventually it will affect you (if you’re reading the blog you’re likely not a billionaire), and then you’ll feel entitled to start complaining.

    Empathy gap, common occurrence in ignorant trump deplorables.

  16. He also may have been trying to complain about the cockroaches in the main food area of CLT. I was just sitting down about to enjoy my Chick Fil-A from the airport’s newest food vendor when I saw one crawling up the pole next to my table. Ugh! The only cockroach I’ve ever seen at an airport outside of Havana.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *