‘Do you know who I am?’ – actually overheard at the BA lounge in Geneva

‘I have a Gold Card but I’m not flying BA today. Do you know who I am?’

And so started one of the oddest exchanges I have seen in an airport lounge for a good while.

BA Terraces Lounge Geneva

Sitting quietly in the BA Terraces lounge at Geneva, I was the only passenger for about an hour before the very elegant lady arrived at the front desk. Loud enough for me to hear everything she told the staff that she had a Gold Card but was not flying BA that day and just wanted ‘her coffee’. The normal employee working the desk had popped out and the other member of the team tried to deal with her.

‘I am sorry Madam, the rules have changed, you must be flying BA to get access’ he explained politely

‘You’re wrong – check the internet under ‘Gold Card’ and you’ll see’

‘No Madam I am afraid not, the rules changed eighteen months ago’ he again explained.

‘Are you new staff? I am here every two weeks and I have a Gold Card’ she said.

‘Please take a seat and wait for my colleague to return who will confirm the position’

The lady takes a seat, a coffee and a pastry whilst she waits for the other member of staff to attend.

‘Madam’ he says on his return ‘what is the problem?’

‘Well I have a Gold Card and just want a coffee and whilst I am not flying BA today I want to use the lounge’.

He replied ‘I am sorry Madam that is no longer possible.’

‘Yes it is’ she says. ‘Go to the internet print off the Gold Card Section and show me’

Quite how she hopes that the poor employee is going to prove a negative I was unsure. I resisted the temptation to intervene, as honestly I don’t think it would have helped.

With significant patience the employees offered to call the BA Manager at the airport on the phone so that they could confirm the situation.

‘Are you new staff?’ she asked again. ‘No Madam, I have been here nearly two years’.

‘Well I will be boarding soon so I am going to leave but I am going to complain to British Airways about this’ And she left.

I gave it a moment, and offered my card to the staff explaining that they should tell BA to get in touch with me if anything came of her complaint as I thought they had been extraordinarily helpful and patient in the circumstances. In truth I hope she does complain so that BA can set her right.

Would you have intervened?



  1. No, I generally think if you have an airline club lounge membership you should be able to use it even if you are not flying. I am less familiar with the rules on BA Gold cards. However, by trying to follow the rules exactly, the staff is inviting people to play all sorts of games like buying a fully refundable ticket and then refunding it. It is a lot easier to give the lady the cup of coffee than to have to process a ticket sale, boarding the ladey on the flight (checkin),

    offloading the seat, refunding the ticket, etc. etc.
    I could see myself trying this, so it would be hypocritical for me to slam the lady for doing it.

  2. I think if you have a paid membership, they should let you in anytime you want. However, I understand that most airlines only allow you when you have a same-day ticket, and rules are rules. She should not be let in.

    DYKWIA is the worst. She should be thrown out for that alone!

    And I agree with Robert. Let the staff do their jobs, even if it is painful to watch!

  3. Perhaps she knew she wouldn’t get in but knew making a scene would get her a cup of coffee—goal accomplished!

  4. But it sounds like she got what she wanted…her cup of coffee and a pastry. I wonder if she didn’t already know the rules but was just trying to buy time to get that beloved cup of coffee….

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