It used to be you could spot a movie star or rock star on the regular at LAX. After all, airports are the great equalizer. Rich or poor, famous or nobody, we all have to go through the hassle of checking bags, going through the TSA lines, and waiting for our flights to leave. In fact, I had a rather spirited conversation years ago with a certain rock star from New Jersey while having a drink in a bar at LAX. Well, those days are over, because unlike us, celebs have the cash and cache to ante up for LAX's new ultra elite, The Private Suite, a terminal just for celebrities, billionaires, corporate moguls, and anyone else who can afford to pay the price to not travel with the commoners.
The website for The Private Suite says:
"It typically takes 2,200 footsteps from car seat to plane seat. For members of The Private Suite, it's 70 footsteps. And they are all peaceful footsteps."
The website goes on to say:
"Members of The Private Suite don't wait in crowded lines because private TSA screening is done right in our building. Members don't walk down long crowded concourses, or line up at ticket counters and boarding gates. They don't deal with baggage. And they don't deal with paparazzi."
Members of The Private Suite are greeted by a concierge as they step off the plane and whisked down some steps to a BMW 7 Series, which then drives on the tarmac to the special terminal. If you've arranged a rental car, it will be waiting for you at The Private Suite. If you spill something on your clothes, The Private Suite will respond with selections from Banana Republic, Anne Klein, and Steve Madden. If you want a drink or a snack, The Private Suite has that. If there is rain at your destination, The Private Suite will give you a raincoat.
Each suite is set up like a high-end hotel room. They have views of the runway and are stocked with appetizers, snacks, and a full bar. Some are set up for kids. One is tailored to the needs of Middle Eastern travelers with prayer mats and a Koran.
Must be nice, eh? But all of this ease and comfort comes at a price. Membership to The Private Suite costs $7,500 per year plus $2,700 for one to four people every time the service is used. The per use price for international travel is $3,000. Non-members can use a shared waiting-area suite for $2,000.
The price seems a bit outrageous but according to security expert (and investor in The Private Suite) Gavin de Becker, about 1,200 people have already signed up for the service. Who are they? Lawyers, entertainment industry moguls, and media tycoons, mostly.