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.