30 September, London

   HEATHROW -- It's a nicely appointed airline lounge, with gray leather seats and sharp Swiss granite flooring and countertops holding light eats and drinks for the very frequent traveler.

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Schwartzkopf
And, in a few months, it'll be gone, from the sesame-stick snacks to the granite countertops holding them.

As part of its constant renovation, Heathrow will tear down its original international terminal, now known as Terminal 2. Anyone who's hopped on a Lufthansa or Alitalia flight out of London will recognize the worn-down of Heathrow's terminals, where passengers congregate in narrow hallways before 1960s-style video monitors to try and locate their flight.

(Heathrow assigns gates "just in time," including after the boarding time printed on a ticket. It's a British eccentricity that has all the efficiency of Mr. Bean and none of the humor.)

And, that includes Lufthansa's business lounge, where a hundred or so people crowd the small tables and the gray couches. It's as worm as the terminal but still as effiicient as you'd expect from a German airline.

There's no coffee-stained, nicked-up service area, either. It's not an ornate display of granite -- nor is it the best example of a laminated edge you'll ever see -- but it's functional. And it looks good.

In getting from the California home of Stone Business to Marmomacc in Verona, Italy, the route often came through Heathrow, and I've spent plenty of hours having cereal, some sesame sticks and a couple cups of coffee to get the motor running after an all-day-cum-all-night flight from the West Coast to Europe. And it sure beat hanging around an old TV monitor and joining a stampede to a faraway gate.

This is the last run through for the Lufthansa club. Maybe there'll be a new one in the future but, for now, thanks for the coffee and cereal for all these years. And can someone at least salvage some of that granite?

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