Club Access
December 20, 2004 10:22 AM   Subscribe

My parents bought lifetime memberships to American Airlines' Admirals Club and Continental's Presidents Club the year I was born. My parent and I have the same name. Can I get away with using their card when I travel alone? Would it be out of the question for a young 20-something to possess such a thing? Does anyone know what information is available on screen to the desk attendants? I know it might be against the rules, but really, what's the worse that could happen?
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (25 answers total)
I don't belong to either, but from what I know from lifetime memberships I have held (gyms, etc.) there's usually something somewhere that indicates how long you've been a member. Check their rules; I'm sure somewhere in the fine print there's a rule that allows any employee of the airline to demand extra identification. In fact, I can see on AA's site that they demand Photo ID right up front.

If you're in your mid-20's, though, I can see you pulling it off: showing up in a t-shirt and jeans is going to raise an eyebrow, but a 20-something in a nice suit and briefcase who looks like he's heading to a board meeting would easily have a reason to hold (and afford) an Admiral's club card.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:31 AM on December 20, 2004

From a quick look at the AA website, they don't seem to even have liftetime memberships anymore. That might be a problem depending on how long ago they got rid of them.
posted by smackfu at 10:41 AM on December 20, 2004

I've been a member of the AA club on and off, and they definitely ask for photo ID, at the little front desk where you check in to the club. That's not necessarily an obstacle, though. (The point about "Member since..." is probably a good one, and an alert attendant would probably catch that.)

That being said, there's really no harm in trying. The reason they have the front desk people is because non-members try and weedle their way in all the time. I can't remember how many times I've checked in, while the guy next to me is obviously trying to huff and bluff his way in. If you don't make it through, all they're going to do is politely ask you to wait in the terminal.

If you're going to try it, definitely dress nicely, and just be polite. The attendants at the front desk definitely have a lot of leeway in who they let in or not, and I've actually gotten in during the windows when I let my membership lapse, just by being nice.
posted by LairBob at 10:46 AM on December 20, 2004

It seems like you should be fine on membership time - after all, your parents (ahem) bought it for you in the year you were born. They will, though, probably have the age of the member on the screeen. If I was shamming, and was caught, I would apologize by saying that my parents thought it was open for family use, and then I'd go buy an $8 hot-dog in Terminal C.

Of course, that's not quite ethical. But you know that, and I'm no-one to lecture.
posted by metaculpa at 10:48 AM on December 20, 2004

Are you asking about the membership your parents gave you when you were born? Dress nice, act nonchalantly about the fact your well-to-do parents bought you lifetime club access when you were born.
posted by geoff. at 10:56 AM on December 20, 2004

Since you have the "same name" -- (ie you are a Jr.?) it sounds like the photo ID would not be a problem.

I don't know what info the attendants can see though or how closely they cross-check it. For example, I have a Presidents Club card and there is no "Member Since" printed on it. However they might be able to see that info when they scan the card.
posted by fourstar at 11:14 AM on December 20, 2004

I wouldn't worry about it as long as you really do have the "same name", and I mean exactly the same name because I once tried it with my parents' card and they said no dice.

But the worst that can happen is that they say no. They won't confiscate your card or anything.
posted by chaz at 11:17 AM on December 20, 2004

Lifetime membership to The President's Club. Paint me really envious. I love The Presidents Club! Sadly, I'm not a member and I can only occasionally get passes.

I say go for it. You have the same name as your father or mother, right? So, there's no problem if they as you for ID. And, although you may not be one - there are a lot of very wealthy young people. My ex-boss' 12 year old son had a President's Club membership! Just saunter up the the desk and present your card. I bet you'll have no problems at all. Enjoy!

If you're anon because you think that there are moral/ethical questions, I say screw it. It's The President's Club, all bets are off.
posted by Juicylicious at 11:47 AM on December 20, 2004

This is stealing.
posted by konolia at 12:12 PM on December 20, 2004

No, it's not.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:39 PM on December 20, 2004

>:3 This is a bunny.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:39 PM on December 20, 2004

While two wrongs don't make a right, I can't say that I pity airlines all that much after whining for extensive federal aid. Then again, if your parents can afford a lifetime membership, I doubt they'd leave you out in the cold.

Do what you will, anonymous. Most likely, they'll let you in whether it belongs to your parents or not. After all, if they aren't using the membership right then, and you're flying with them, why not keep a customer happy? If they don't let you in, tough cookies. Personally? I'd do it once. If I liked it, then I'd shell out my own bucks for it. Riding free on your parents' card, especially if you can afford it yourself, is a jerk thing to do.

Oh, and Konolia, I'd say it's a lot closer to fraud than stealing.
posted by Saydur at 12:45 PM on December 20, 2004

i think you could make a case for calling it stealing - you're consuming something (a certain luxury) you haven't paid for.

for me, it's some kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth who thinks he's entitled to even more than he already has. but that, as they say, isn't answering the question.

still, come the revolution...
posted by andrew cooke at 12:52 PM on December 20, 2004

I frankly could give a fuck about someone stealing use of services from an airline. If everyone who had the same name as a parent sat in the damn Poohbah's Club on their parents' card every time they took a plane, it would cause absolutely no loss to anyone. It costs the airline no money whatsoever to add an additional body or two to the Poohbah's Club waiting room.

I wouldn't do it myself, because I wouldn't sit in one of those places if you gave me a million dollars. But it is the closest thing to a victimless crime you're likely to commit. If they notice that it's your parent's card instead of yours, you can just look confused and say, "Oh, I'm sorry--Dad/Mom must have sent me the wrong card."
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:59 PM on December 20, 2004

I totally agree with sidhedevil (except I am a frequent flyer and use those facilities), it's no big deal.
konolia, no sermons tonight please. it's almost Xmas. let's all be friends for a while, OK?
posted by matteo at 1:23 PM on December 20, 2004

it's some kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth who thinks he's entitled to even more than he already has.

The annual membership fee for The President's Club is $375. Hardly "silver spoon" money. And, if you have an AmEx Business Platinum card you get free President's Club membership.
posted by Juicylicious at 1:31 PM on December 20, 2004

I'd agree with the recommendations to just try it, as you really have nothing to lose. As others have also said, the people working the desk have a lot of leeway in who they let in or don't. I'm about your age, and I've occasionally gotten in to the Admiral's club based on my dad's membership (different name and I didn't have his card), the fact that it wasn't crowded, and just being nice. Also, sometimes a horrible (but true - they can easily check your flight info) story about missing flights, etc. will make them take pity on you, that worked for me last time.
posted by rorycberger at 2:37 PM on December 20, 2004

I agree with konolia, it's stealing, and that it's a relevant point. The answer to "what's the worst that can happen" includes moral outcomes. Now, whether you think it's stealing like swiping milk crates from the university cafeteria system (done it, still don't feel guilty, but wouldn't do it now that I'm older) or stealing like not informing cashiers when they've made a mistake (always feel guilty, I always speak up) is a little closer to a personal morality decision. For practical purposes, I would probably try it once or twice, but always feel a bit sheepish if it worked and so ruin the goodness of it all in the end anyway. Those damn milkcrates that I had to have were never so useful once I got them back to my room either. I would also advise if you get smacked down by the gatekeepers to go away gracefully.
posted by dness2 at 3:32 PM on December 20, 2004

It would be stealing if anonymous's parents hadn't paid for the lifetime membership. They did, though, and they're giving him the use of it. Against the rules, yeah, but it hardly qualifies as stealing.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:04 PM on December 20, 2004

If it's against the rules to transfer the membership, it's stealing. Would it make the baby Jesus (or in my case Buddha) cry? probably not. But it might make them raise an eyebrow. Stealing is taking that which is not freely given. The definition is cut and dry; although as I acknowledged above, application of the definition to one's behavior has a grayscale of acceptability in common society.
posted by dness2 at 4:25 PM on December 20, 2004

I think that the original questioner has already acknowledged that he/she knows it's against the rules governing the use of the card by his/her parents, though.

And the phrase is "cut and dried", not "cut and dry".
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:27 PM on December 20, 2004

so it is.

well, at least I'm not the only one.
posted by dness2 at 4:54 PM on December 20, 2004

I got into United's special clubs a number of times using my dad's card -- and he and I have very different names (and genders). I don't think I ever bothered to dress nicely. I was a scruffy late teen/early 20-something when I did it, pierced and tattood toward the end there.

Sometimes I'd just present the card, and they would let me in. Other times I'd say, "I've got a long trip ahead of me, do you mind if I use my dad's card to get in to your lounge." Never a problem either way.

Usually they just want to know you have an unexpired card. It's not like they scan your information into a database and track your airport lounge use.

As to whoever snootily dismisses the clubs -- they are nice! Free snack food, free drinks, free showers. If you make two or three round trips to Australia per year, as I was doing at the time, it's really nice to be able to take a shower and sit on a comfortable couch during your four hour layover.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:46 PM on December 20, 2004

Corporations are morally more akin to animals or bacteria than people. Milk them for all they're worth, like a cow.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:17 PM on December 20, 2004

If it's against the rules to transfer the membership, it's stealing.

Against the rules = stealing? No.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:38 PM on December 20, 2004

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