Recently I was mentioned in a Traveler Style series on Johnny Jet and one of the questions asked for my favorite business class lounge at an airport.
The El Al business class lounge at JFK (the King David Lounge) is the only one I’ve ever experienced. Generally I book the cheapest possible plane, train, or bus tickets, and so obviously those never come with any fancy amenities. I clearly did not look like I belonged in that lounge, but I tried to carry myself in a way that made me look like I knew exactly what I was doing. I am a firm believer in the Fake It ‘Til You Make It school of life. This was particularly difficult to accomplish in the lounge, as my first instinct upon entering was to run around and touch everything.
There was so much food. There was a kitchen area with two refrigerators — one containing sodas and juices and the other containing alcohol. There were hors d’oeuvres laid out on fancy little plates — cheeses, bread, olives, spreads that I couldn’t identify. There were pastries and salads and coffee and tea — none of this can be free, I thought to myself. This is not how the world works.
I made a quick loop around this kitchen area — not touching anything, just observing. Everyone seemed to be helping themselves pretty freely, and there were employees refreshing the plates before they even became half-empty. I went back to the table I’d claimed and accessed the free wifi on my phone. I Googled, “Am I allowed to eat the food in the El Al business class lounge?” and skimmed the website until I found direct mention of “complimentary refreshments.”*
After I’d bypassed all of the fancy-looking food and grabbed a Diet Coke and a few cookies– just to reinforce the blatant fact that I was a 24 year old kid surrounded by all of these really impressive businesspeople — I returned to my table and opened my laptop. I was too nervous to actually get any work done and I didn’t dare go on Facebook, but this at least made me look like I had something important to do. I also took out the book I was reading, the very thick and important-looking From Beirut to Jerusalem. When infiltrating the big leagues, make sure to bring props.
I’d been people-watching for several minutes before I realized that I was just blatantly staring at some of these travelers, first looking for celebrities and then trying to figure out what each of these people did for a living to be able to hang out in business class lounges as if it was just a normal part of the weekend. I was absolutely ecstatic when I saw what appeared to be a mahogany cane stand in one corner — a mahogany cane stand!** Thank God I did not giggle.
I did, however, take a few pictures with Instagram, and I snuck a few pieces of fruit in my backpack for later (free food, take advantage when you can). You can dress the kid up and put her in a fancy lounge in the airport, but you can’t force her to act like one of the adults.
I mean, seriously, a mahogany cane stand.
*I did. You can check the internet history on my phone.
** I’m pretty sure this was a cane stand. If it wasn’t, I don’t want to know the truth.