Monday, September 11, 2006

Lounging VIPs

Can I do you now, Mr Howells?

Bing-Bong. For the discerning international traveller we present a choice of VIP lounges.

Lounge Pass offers exclusive facilities at over 100 airports worldwide for as little as £12 per visit. Their modern airside lounges at Heathrow and Gatwick cost a very reasonable £18 per visit, including a full range of complimentary business facilities and "refreshments".

OR... the Foreign and Commonwealth Office offers similar facilities for £230 per visit.

Except they are only at Heathrow and Gatwick.

Oh, and there are no "refreshments".

Oh yes, and you need to be a "guest of HM Government".

Or Kim Howells.

Because it turns out "more than £16 million of taxpayers' money has been spent since 2000 running VIP suites at Heathrow and Gatwick airports. They are owned and operated by BAA but the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) contributes to the cost of facilities, which are used by ministers, high-ranking civil servants and foreign dignitaries among others. The bill for 2005-06 totalled £2.95 million and paid for approximately 13,000 separate "movements"

Needless to say, the most frequent users are not Presidents Bush and Hu Jintao, but FCO ministers (14 times for Howells in 2005-06) and those "high-ranking civil servants".

Remember that next time you're in the 4 hour queue for EasyJet out of Luton.

PS Tyler was once seriously delayed on a flight to Scotland because we had to await the arrival of a "VIP". We naturally assumed it must be Sean Connery, but it turned out to be a short bumptious looking ginger beardie. Robin Cook was ushered reverentially to his front row seat with no apology, and proceeded to preen himself all the way to Edinburgh. Yuk.

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