After a nice uneventful flight into Cape Town our plane pulled up to a remote gate with busses awaiting. I've had my fair share of busses to airport terminals and as I de boarded the plane I began to resign to the elbow and space war shortly to ensue. What I never expected was that one of those busses and an escort was waiting just for Laura and I, ready to whisk us privately through to our waiting driver to the hotel. This was just a small highlight in what proved to be three weeks of flying around the world as an airport "VIP". For better or worse it's amazing what money can buy. Sometimes not even a lot of it.
We've been on a whirlwind trip including flights from New York to Paris, London, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Paris, London and New York again all in the span of a couple weeks. It's been wonderful but it was certainly chaotic. As the trip was centered around our wedding and honeymoon I thought it would be neat to see just how cool flying could be, if only for once in my life. I've seen celebrities and heads of state do some pretty nifty things in my time spent in airports and I said why not me? I got in touch with Gateway VIP services, a company which offers bespoke VIP airport experiences for celebrities like Elton John, Forrest Whitaker, heads of state and others and asked what it's all about. Well, I'll tell you. Economy, business, first, it doesn't matter. Anyone can pay for one off Airport VIP services like departure assistance, transfer help and arrival coordination. Over the course of my three weeks traveling I was able to experience all and found them to have unique merits and turn plenty of heads...
My least favorite of the bunch but very neat. Essentially a greeter like Qaasim (great guy) pictured above coordinates your car arrival at the terminal. Once the car arrives someone like Qaasim will help you with your luggage, attempt to fast track you through your check in or bag drop process and whisk you through any expedited security lanes available. You feel cool, but you can probably handle most of this on your own. We were given access to a lounge via our airline tickets and status, but I am quite sure that lounge access can be arranged for anyone through the service whatever cabin you're flying. One thing I did very much enjoy was that Qaasim monitored the boarding time and came to the lounge to grab us at an optimal boarding time allowing for more egg and cheese croissants!
Bottom Line: I feel very capable at the ripe age of 28 in carrying my own bags and navigating to check in and a security lane. I did appreciate the fast track stuff but I would probably spend my money on one of the other two services below which unlocked hidden capabilities.
This proved to be really neat a couple times. Upon landing in both Johannesburg and Paris Orly we were greeted at the arrival gate with a sign and directed through the immigration channels (we cut the line). In Paris we were "theoretically" early for check in for our next flight and were initially told that we would have to wait around for check in. After a minute with our greeter exchanging some blows in French we were proceeding to our connecting lounge and subsequent gate. Fast tracked through security of course. This transfer service took all the variables and questions out of the connection process and saved us considerable time.
Bottom Line: We felt like VIP's with this particular service. Not only did they make unofficially possible things happen, they helped to navigate some new airports and even assisted with re packing my bag after security. I hate that part! If you are unfamiliar with an airport or have a tight connection this could be a very reasonable premium to ensure success.
This corresponds with my opening paragraph and first holy sh*t moment of the trip. I never expected to walk down the staircase of an Airbus A340 with gorgeous jumbos in the background and see a man holding a sign with my name. I subsequently never expected that he would lead us to a bus reserved just for my wife and I. I kid you not, if not for a wait on the bus for an aircraft crossing our path we would've been from airplane door to car to the hotel door in about two minutes. Talk about a kick start to a special trip.
Bottom line: This was awesome and for a special occasion or important trip this is money very well spent, especially in countries which allow for these extra VVIP style services. America is much tighter with what money can and cannot buy. Definitely inquire about what can be done at your particular destination.
There is sheer novelty value in seeing peoples faces as you get escorted by like someone important. This is especially true when you are one of the least important people in the terminal (me). Novelty aside I found real value in less familiar airports and tight connections. To my knowledge a majority of clients for services of this nature are corporate travelers trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible and of course celebrities who don't want to so much as make eye contact with a living soul. The nice folks at Gateway VIP Services allowed me to wrangle you, our wonderful readers a 15% discount using code: GWVIP2015 (through 01/01/2016) on your first booking, so if you have a busy trip, honeymoon, special occasion or just want to feel like a boss drop them a line. We enjoyed it!
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