Pri­vate Suite

Frequent Flyer Destinations - - CONTENTS - BY GREG FREITAS & NATALIE COMPAGNO

At The Pri­vate Suite money can’t buy hap­pi­ness, but it sure comes in handy for other things, like time and pri­vacy.

The VIP pri­vate ter­mi­nal, which opened last year at LAX, has lux­ury in spades with show­ers and daybeds, mas­sages and hair­cuts, and enough food, drink, and candy to keep trav­el­ers of all ages sat­is­fied. Think of it as a wellap­pointed pri­vate wait­ing room, with al­most ev­ery­thing one could de­sire.

But lo­gis­tics trumps even lux­ury when it comes to air­port has­sles. The Pri­vate Suite main­tains its own brand new sta­teof-the-art TSA fa­cil­ity, as well as its own check­point for cus­toms and bor­der pa­trol. Check-in and se­cu­rity are ef­fort­less, with a han­dler al­ways at the ready to smooth over the slight­est wrin­kle.

When it’s time to get on the plane the min­der puts pas­sen­gers in a new BMW, which drives them across the tar­mac to their plane. One could count on one hand the num­ber of peo­ple--em­ploy­ees, se­cu­rity, other pas­sen­gers--en­coun­tered dur­ing the en­tire process. Even the set­ting is con­ve­nient, on an in­dus­trial stretch of

Im­pe­rial High­way far from the mad­den­ing horse­shoe of traf­fic.

Se­cu­rity ex­pert Gavin de Becker is the mas­ter­mind be­hind The Pri­vate Suite. In­spired by the Royal Fam­ily’s ded­i­cated ter­mi­nal at Heathrow, he even­tu­ally per­suaded the pow­ers that be to al­low wealthy clients to pay for the same priv­i­leges ac­corded Her Majesty. He saw an op­por­tu­nity for the project in Los An­ge­les, where the nexus of high-wealth in­di­vid­u­als and pa­parazzi-swarmed celebri­ties pe­ri­od­i­cally threat­ens to break LAX.

It’s one rea­son the FAA and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties were en­thu­si­as­tic about the project. “For years prior to The Pri­vate

Suite, lit­er­ally thou­sands of reg­u­lar pas­sen­gers were ad­versely af­fected ev­ery week by clumps of pa­parazzi on the side­walk, in the street and on the es­ca­la­tors,” he says. “Reg­u­lar trav­el­ers were af­fected most of­ten and most ad­versely.” Once he pitched this idea to the city, and avi­a­tion au­thor­i­ties, the project took off. Of course, they also re­ceive a share of the rev­enue.

“The en­tire avi­a­tion and trav­el­ing com­mu­nity ben­e­fits from this ser­vice be­cause we are pro­vid­ing $34 mil­lion to LAX over nine years, all money to be used for im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture and op­er­a­tions for reg­u­lar pas­sen­gers at the main air­port ter­mi­nals.” So it’s a win-win for first class and for coach as well.

It’s tough to put a price on es­cap­ing the in­con­ve­nience of go­ing to the air­port but The Pri­vate Suite has done it: from $2700 to $4000 per flight, for groups of three or four. Mem­ber­ship lessens the cost per flight, but is not cur­rently re­quired.

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