As crises mount, EU’s Solana sky high on travel perks

An ecstatic Javier Solana shows a letter confirming the upgrade in his frequent flyer status to the coveted “Gold” level to a suprised and envious UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. Although Straw himself has only achieved Silver status, the top British diplomat hopes that the looming confrontation with Iran may provide him the opportunity to catch up. (Photo: Conseil de l’UE)

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana marked a breakthrough for his diplomatic efforts in the Middle East when he achieved Gold status in the British Airways Executive Club frequent flyer program, Thursday. As a long-time member of the program, Solana already benefitted from access to over 230 well-appointed lounges belonging to British Airways and other airlines in the OneWorld alliance.

With his new status, Solana will enjoy a whole new level of privileged service in luxury travel, including free use the exclusive Molton Brown Spa at Heathrow and other airports, and priority for free upgrades to first and business class.

Solana, whose official title is High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy in the European Union confirmed to BNN: “I am delighted that we have achieved this breakthrough. It has taken us a lot of hard work and a lot of hours in the air. We were able to achieve the required number of points to attain this status due to the EU’s relentless involvement in the Middle East.” Solana explained that recent events, including the Palestinian legislative elections and the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program, which required extensive visits to regional capitals, resulted in an enormous boost in his prestige as a valued customer of the OneWorld Alliance, which in addition to British Airways, includes Iberia, Cathay Pacific, Finnair and Qantas among others.

“As Middle East tension mounts,” a giddy Solana said, “there is nothing to relieve the stress like a shiatswe massage and a facial scrub before a flight.”

At a particularly successful meeting, Solana brokered a deal where EU monitors would police the borders of the Gaza Strip on behalf of Israeli occupation forces. Solana then jetted back to Brussels to argue successfully at the EU Council of Ministers for the suppression of a report documenting Israel’s illegal efforts to colonize and annex occupied East Jerusalem. More recently Solana rushed to Jerusalem to discuss the results of Palestinian elections with Israel’s leaders, and to coordinate the international cut off in humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, whose per capita annual income has fallen to a few hundred dollars under the destructive effects of Israeli military rule. “The EU’s deliberately one-sided policies,” Solana explained, “are undermining the prospects for peace and sowing the seeds of further conflict. Only by such means can we guarantee the permanent sense of crisis that will allow us to retain our consistent position as an elite traveler and to maintain our relations with those who keep us in power.”

“All of these issues helped us to advance towards our goal, but we would not have made it to Gold status so quickly without the recent Muhammad cartoons crisis,” Solana said from his Brussels office. As protests raged across the Muslim world, Solana embarked on a multi-nation tour to meet regional leaders. “I must admit that the ferocity of the protests took us by surprise,” Solana said, “but we immediately seized on the opportunity to start a dialogue with as many leaders as possible. He was forced to skip visits to Damascus and Tehran however, because, as he explained, “these capitals are currently not served by airlines in the network.” The elegant 63-year-old Spaniard, who has previously served as his country’s foreign minister and NATO Secretary General added that “I prefer to consolidate all my travel on airlines within the OneWorld alliance to maximize the number of points.”

Asked what he planned to do next about the mounting crises, Solana said that he would continue to try to bring people together. Solana admits that due to the frequency of his meetings with Israeli leaders, he has joined the El Al frequent flyer club “Matmid.”

“Currently we are funding several initiatives to bridge the gaps and create a joint frequent flyer program between El Al, Royal Jordanian and Royal Air Maroc, Tunis Air, Egyptair and other carriers from the Euro-Med region,” Solana said. If this effort succeeds, he explains optimistically, “it will open up great new horizons for EU diplomacy.”