Fantastic plastic to the rescue

THERE are few comforts in this world that a flash of ‘fantastic plastic’ can’t buy.

I learnt this lesson recently when I spent a week in the United States, the home of everything that is bigger, bolder and better.

Australia is small fry compared to the United States – our 23 million residents fit snugly inside a couple of their major cities.


During our visit, I couldn’t help thinking that we could take a leaf out of their book to improve our own service industries back home on the Gold Coast.

Case in point: at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, Amex customers have access to a dedicated theme park lounge, where VIP or Front of Line ticketholders can “take a relaxing afternoon break and bask in the comforts of complimentary light snacks, drinks, guest relations and more”.

We had a ball exploring the rides and amusements at Universal – The Simpsons village, which is mid-expansion, was the main highlight – but escaping the epic crowds for even five minutes would have been an amazing respite.

It’s the ultimate luxury for tourists, and I reckon access would be worth the extra ticket cost simply for the free water; we must have bought four bottles during our day at the park.

Can you imagine if theme parks on the Gold Coast offered a respite lounge? How brilliant would it be if you were at Movieworld and, in between checking out the Stunt Show and lining up for the Superman ride, you could duck into an airconditioned room for a cooling drink?

The credit card comforts during our trip didn’t stop there. We scored free parking at one hotel thanks to our Mastercard, and our international travel insurance was complimentary as we paid for our trip on a Qantas card.

Then, the pièce de résistance…

On our way home from Los Angeles via Fiji, our flight was delayed, resulting in a five-hour stop-over at Nadi International Airport. Spending five hours in any airport is no-one’s idea of fun. But if you have experienced the rustic, rarely airconditioned glory that is Nadi International, you’ll understand just how slowly five hours can tick by.

Factor in two tired toddlers and it was a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully, fantastic plastic came to the rescue in the form of a little-known lounge called the Tabua Club. For FJ$75 (around AU$45) each adult, we were escorted into a beautiful airconditioned lounge and served free snacks, soft drink and wine until our flight departed. Best of all, there were shower facilities!

They say the best things in life are free, but I’m beginning to wonder if they’re actually the things can be charged and paid by the 20th of next month?

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