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November, 2010:

A new way to fly high!

If you have traveled at all in the past few years and have been frustrated by the long lines at check-in and the overly secure security or have been given the bottom of the barrel when it comes to seat selection, or have arrived at check-in only to be told that you are 2 ounces over your weight limit…. then, you are going to be pissed to learn that there is a whole other way to travel – it’s called Elite Status baby!!!!

Those of you that already fly first class or are Elite members… you should have said something!!

Let’s start from the beginning.

It began a few of weeks ago… we were flying from Toronto to Vancouver and just before check-in I received an email notifying me that I had just achieved “Elite” status with Air Canada. I had no idea then, that that email would change me forever!

As I walked up to the check-in desk… I notified the person at the counter that I had received an “elite” notification… he was in the process of printing my boarding card…. he checked the system and sure enough, confirmed my elite-ness… he took my existing boarding card and tore it to pieces and then he proceeded to print out a NEW boarding card with the elite title on it….he then gave me passes to the “lounge” and explained a few of the elite benefits that I would be able to take advantage of immediately.

Security… those of us that travel a lot have at one time or another been standing at the back of one of these long lines staring impatiently at the guy holding up the line that had no idea that the 2 pounds of loss change in one pocket, a cell phone in another, and belt buckle the size of a serving platter would set off the metal detector!! I kid you not!!!!

Well, no more… we were guided to a separate security section, which i had NEVER even noticed… it’s written in code… I would share it here, but then you would all be in line with me and I would, well… be back to square one!

Once through security, which was brief and yes, pleasant…. in fact, the only thing lacking was Champagne… we entered a special set of doors where the Champagne dilemma was remedied. Waiting for your flight in the lounge translates into the equivalent of walking into your own fully stoked cafe lounge bar, complete with plush comfortable chairs, CLEAN bathrooms, and in London – SHOWERS!!!

Heading to the gate to catch the flight… which is timed perfectly to minimize the discomfort of standing… we quickly bypass the long lines of passengers waiting to board rows 35-60 and hand our boarding cards over to the gate agent dedicated to serving “our kind”. There’s nobody between us and the agent…. however, once on the ramp… we are quickly reminded how annoying it can be to wait!

At baggage claim… our bags our first out of the shoot… why? Because they are tagged PRIORITY – nice:))

I knew this would have a profound effect on my perception of my own “eliteness”, I just didn’t know that it would happen after just two flights!

After landing in London… rested from a comfortable flight (which was possible only because at check-in the agent was unwilling to seat us alongside the toilets and quickly moved us forward to the front of the plane, just behind business class) we headed out to catch a taxi…. after spotting the taxi stand, still in Elite mode, I walked right to the front… oblivious to the other 50-75 people standing line and proceeded to get in the first taxi that pulled up… shockingly, not one person said a single word! It was not until I was JUST about to get in, that Ozlem and I both realized…. OH! That’s a line!!! Don’t worry.. we gracefully walked to the back of the line:)))

Just this past weekend… at an airport that didn’t recognize Eliteness…. it was daunting to spot the long security line from the check-in counter…. we were quick to ask if there was a way around it!!!! Yes, it happens that quick! You can imagine that the agent looked at us with a blank stare… like… “what do you mean, a faster way?” It was funny, because his response was appropriate and simple…. “go and eat something and when you come back, there will hopefully be less people…” How’s that for an ELITE answer?!

I am learning to take this Elite thing in small doses… kind of like my coffee addiction….. I am making sure that I mix my first class upgrades with the occasional flight in coach (domestic only… nothing more than 2 hours – no need to be extreme about it!).

Update: this post was written before the new TSA rules were put in place. We do have a lot to say about that, but that’s a different post.