What’s Grosser Than Gross? Airline Club Lounge Edition.

No, not the mouse in the United Club at Washington Dulles.

Instead, this.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. The whole world would be so much better if

    a) every employee got as much sick leave as the needed
    b) people actually took sick leave

  2. How about the moment when a Maile airline lounge employee leaves a bathroom stall, exits the bathroom without washing his hands and immediately walks up to the food line to serve the food? He proceeds to touch the trays, the serving utensils, the food, etc. I reported him and nothing was done to ask him to go wash his hands nor to remove the items he had touched.

    Another scene – man blows his nose all over the faucet, mirror, etc in an Asian lounge bathroom. He does not wash his hands and proceeds to the food line. He touches everything. Airline employees are asked to visit the bathroom to see the issue and to attend to the food line. No action taken.

  3. Bravo ed. This is what happens when people need their income, and can’t take off.

  4. Well as an employer who gives associates 5 weeks off PLUS 8 holidays per year, I find folks never burn any of those days for sick time b/c they are always viewed as vacation without regard o what they are called. “I can’t burn my PTO for sick time.” wah…wah…wah. You can, and you will.

  5. @mdtravel I’m always a bit skeptical of the concept of an allocation of sick day. It seems counter productive, If you come in and make everyone else sick, that’s even more man-hours lost.

    To be fair, though, I spent my early career in the UK where there is no such thing as a sick day allocation. If you are sick you can take it off. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to discourage people from soldiering on. It actually takes a real cultural change to make people stay home.

    I’m lucky enough now to work somewhere where it is frowned upon to turn up to work sick. It has a really good hygiene culture as well; its a hot desk environment and everywhere is liberally provided with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes – and people actually use them.

    What goes for ordinary workplaces goes double for those in the service sector and triple for those who handle food or work in airports. I shudder to thinkk about how far that lady’s flu could travel. Of course, as intimated above its probably not her fault. She’s probably working for some sub-contracting organisation, earning close to minimum wage with no benefits. I wouldn’t be surprised if she felt pressure, tacit or actual, from her immediate supervisor to turn up for her shift or face loosing her job. I find it galling that economic realities prevent the best outcomes for everyone, which are her staying home recovering with some chicken soup and for the rest of us not to catch what she’s got.

  6. I realize not everyone has sick time. I realize many people won’t take time off when sick if they get a single back of PTO. I get roughly four or five weeks of PTO (it’s an odd number of days). I always have five days remaining in December, give or take, in the unlikely event I do get sick. I work from home too and will work through minor illness but I know the right virus or other infection can knock me down for days. I’m not a fool.

  7. For years, I have managed a team in health care environment and have faced many challenges due to my team members calling in “sick”.

    While being truly empathetic to them, which they knew I was, I also explained to them their value and their role that may impact others in similar situation unless their “sick” leave was truly justified in their own view.

    And surprisingly, their “sick” leaves would drop dramatically!

    While sick leaves and parental leaves are VERY important for any society, they do need to be managed for the USA to continue to be an efficient nation.

  8. This reminds me of when I was in the Lufthansa lounge @EWR, waiting for my flight to FRA. This lounge was so small & so crowded that I had to sit at a narrow, chest-high counter, in front of a man, while eating a salad. The man suddenly sneezed without covering his mouth. I had a bad feeling about it, but out of politeness, continued eating but really quickly before getting off the stool as soon as I was done. The minute I got off the plane some hours later, I started feeling sick. To make the story short, a week later, I had to have the hotel call a doctor to visit and give me antibiotics prescription. Coincidence? Well, what I learn is forget about ‘politeness’ next time!

  9. This is America, where people are incredibly lazy. If everyone had an unlimited amount of sick days no one would ever come into work.

  10. @ tamminh

    Two responses:
    Courtesy is not called required in such a situation. Getting up and leaving would have protected you and possibly others if the perp. learned anything from the experience.
    It’s doubtful that a course of antibiotics was called for in this case. Oversupply of antibiotics is creating horrendous problems worldwide.

  11. @Edward Lane, you’re absolutely right. How many times I beat myself up afterwards for not being “brave” enough to take the correct action, instead of yielding to the misguided appearance of courtesy. You’re probably also right about the unnecessity of antibiotics. However, when one is really, really sick, in a foreign country, and on a very limited schedule, one may not be able to make the best decision! Thanks for the delayed, yet still relevant, advise.

  12. @Ken I’m American and I wasn’t lazy. I worked at cafeterias and I did the work of two or three people that didn’t show up for work. If good benefits and a decent wage had been provided maybe it would have been different. I pushed a drink cart many a mile and cleaned many a table. I was one of those people that needed a job and the money. I’ve went to work sick. When I had the flu I wouldn’t have been able to go anyway. I was in bed and so sick I didn’t think about getting up. If I was sick now I would wear gloves and a mask if I came to work. That might make some feel more comfortable with me serving them. I wouldn’t talk about how sick I was although sometimes it’s obvious.

  13. @Carol Lewis – I didn’t say ALL Americans were super lazy 😉 Sounds a lot like my situation through university. BTW you’re replying to comments from 6+ years ago.

Comments are closed.