Arguably, the best day of the year is the one on which you go on holiday. More specifically, it’s when you finally clear security, having removed your belt and watch, as well as the surgical removal of your mobile phone from your hand. Passenger numbers at from Bristol Airport, from where we invariably depart, have expanded far faster than the site and facilities on offer. Despite my obsession with being early for everything, I am glad that I do not spend any longer at the airport than I have to.
Apart from the holiday obligation to imbibe a pint or two regardless of the time of departure, I rarely spend money at Bristol Airport. For one thing, everything costs and arm and a leg and for another there is no guarantee you will actually get served before your flight. As I went walkabout, unsuccessfully trying to buy a newspaper before our flight, I paused as a small group of large Welsh ladies swayed unsteadily on their way out of the ‘Aspire’and ‘AspirePlus’ lounges.
I had, of course, heard of these lounges before. They are a kind of VIP lounge for people who consider themselves to be VIPs. No, not really. Here in the Aspire Lounge, if you allow yourself a considerable amount of extra time before your flight, you can munch your way through endless free bacon rolls, drink as much free booze as you can and pick up a free newspaper. Yes, all for free. All you need to do is part with a mere £26 a head.
The ‘AspirePlus’ lounge is even better. You can enjoy a ‘luxurious adult-only retreat’ – in Bristol Airport! – which enables one to drink free Prosecco and ‘an enhanced complimentary food and drink menu’, again gratis. For this free posh booze and food, you fork out a trifling £35 a head. A more expensive free lunch, I am sure you will agree.
The trick is use of the word ‘aspire’. My Oxford dictionary defines this as meaning to ‘direct one’s hopes or ambitions towards achieving something.’ So far as I can tell, forcing down as much ‘free’ food and drink as possible in a very short space of time has little to do with aspiration and everything to do with gluttony and, dare I say, a suggestion of someone’s social status.
Give me a chair in the departure lounge, thank you very much, with a pint of Staropramen and some sarnies bought on a meal deal from Sainsburys. All I really want to do is get on the plane.