Do You Pilfer from Airline Lounges?

On my way back to Philadelphia Sunday afternoon, I noticed a man with a large plastic bag walking toward the food in the United Club at LAX. With some amusement, I watched him stuff about 20 packaged cheese slices into his bag. Rather than mind my own business, I casually mentioned that the wheat crackers were better than the sesame or butter ones. He sneered at me, but not before grabbing a huge handful of crackers, several packages of Milano cookies and even a few bags of carrots for good measure. Have people no shame?

Then I saw this on Flyertalk this morning--

I was in an early morning flight and waiting in the United Club for my flight. I saw this guy, around 30, went back and forth to the self-serve freezer and grabbed 12 cans (12oz) of apple juice, 6 cans (8oz) of tomato juice and 6 cans (6oz) of pineapple juice, and stuffed in his backpack. Apparently he noticed I was watching and he left. At least that's what I thought, because on my way out for my flight, I saw him chatting with the front desk and he went back to the freezer for more after I had left the Club. (How do I know? for my own curiosity, I returned to the club and caught him again).

Perhaps this is a bigger problem than I thought...

Pilfer means to steal (typically things of relatively little value). Do you think people are pilfering when they take food--any food--out of the lounge? Is it a matter of degree?

I don't often take food from the lounge, but I do take a couple packets of hot chocolate once in awhile for my uncle and sometimes if I am in a rush I'll take one bag of carrots with me. I also take newspapers out if they are not stamped "please leave in club."

In moderation, I see no problem with taking out an item or two, but taking out two dozens cans of juice or a gross of cheese and crackers strikes me as wrong--it leads to higher club prices and a cutback in amenities. Where the line is drawn is admittedly arbitrary, but I'd say taking more than two items is not appropriate.

How about you? Do you take from airline lounges and if so, how much? If not, why?


I always grab a couple pieces of cheese, and a pack of milanos before I leave the club. This helps when I lose my UDU to a ToD, SHARES glitch, etc.

DCheung December 4, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I admit to taking a couple of bags of chips or 2 cans of soda pop for the plane ride.

Brad December 4, 2012 at 10:38 pm

I guess by definition I have pilfered from the clubs. A newspaper on occasion, and maybe a Walkers shortbread or a bag of carrots if I didn't have time to get real food.

Kudos for calling out the person who was loading up a bag. Some people are so rude.

Rocky December 4, 2012 at 10:52 pm

I think everyone in the club takes a little from the clubs here and there. Meaning a snack for the flight. Some airline clubs even has "to go" cups for their coffee and teas. I often walk out with a fresh cup of coffee and in the morning a muffin or bagel as I'm on my way to my flight. However taking more than that is absolutely ridiculous. There is no need to go grocery shopping while in the club. If people do, they will all look like US airway clubs and Admiral clubs. Bare

Ray December 4, 2012 at 11:34 pm

How many baby carrots do you have to 'pilfer' to make up for the $450 membership fee?

Ethan December 5, 2012 at 09:07 am

I've definitely grabbed a couple crackers and some cheese before heading to my flight. That seems like a reasonable use of the club. But "stocking up" like the guy you saw or the flyertalk juice hoarder is out of line.

#WHO CARES December 5, 2012 at 09:59 am

Honestly, you really need more hobbies...who cares.

Feeling guilty there?

Mike December 5, 2012 at 02:21 pm

I'm in the LAX Admirals Club now, the guy in front of me filled a quart size zip lock bag with snack mix then left.

RDimperio December 5, 2012 at 02:38 pm

For the ride I might grab some cheese and crackers. Then feeling guilty (no not for taking them) I grab some carrot sticks.

Knowing I was flying behind the curtain last weekend I remembered to bring a cannister of Pringles. Pringles and flying/driving go hand in hand. Forget UDU, CLE-SFO and SFO-IAD did not clear using Regionals that were applied a month or so ahead of time. Got SFO-PHX-SFO to clear but missed connection in SFO and got my Regionals back.

Changes I'm sure to like! I don't think so.

SAN Greg December 5, 2012 at 03:20 pm

"All things good in moderation" I think would apply here. The intent of having these items is for immediate or on the flight consumption. Grabbing enough items to stock your personal pantry for a month is rude and spoils the benefit for everyone. The result will be higher costs to everyone or a reduction in snack quality. Thanks for having the huevos to call this guy out!

BR December 5, 2012 at 08:05 pm

Who would even want all those snacks in the United Lounge? Their snack/drink selection sucks. However, if they served jars of caviar and Dom, I'd pilfer like crazy.

#WHO CARES December 5, 2012 at 08:49 pm

No, I just have better things to do with my time than monitor who eats what in an airline lounge. Live and let live. Find some other productive way to spend your time.

"However, if they served jars of caviar and Dom, I'd pilfer like crazy." They do offer them...they've been pilfered before you got there. :)

Rocky December 7, 2012 at 01:27 am

I think #who cares is someone who fills their home pantry :) only one who seems angry by this post ;)

Craig December 7, 2012 at 11:41 pm

I ordinarily limit myself to a package or two of cookies for the plane, but last year upon departing SVO in Moscow, I couldn't help but take four bottles of exotic-looking Russian Beer with unusual pull-tops, which I thoroughly enjoyed on four separate occasions over the following months back in the States.

@Craig: I can't blame you for that. We'll not count lounges outside the USA! ;)

Josh January 13, 2013 at 01:35 am

If they have Pellegrino I take an extra bottle or two, only because they do not serve it on the plane and it is my preference when it comes to bottled waters. I can't stand the seltzer water United stocks on-board and it's nice to have a bit of my favorite sparkling water on hand, especially for longer flights.

Like most have said, it's all in moderation. Taking a cup of coffee or a few snacks for the plane is fine and probably even expected by the airlines. It's all about common courtesy. If we don't individually abuse it there won't be a collective cost increase.

Alastair February 3, 2016 at 06:04 pm

I got caught taking a few packets of crisps from a lounge and was reported to the police and almost arrested

@Alastair: Which lounge?!

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