The stares were glaring, but they didn’t last long.
Who are they? Was that ____ ______? How the ____?
The Private Suite at Los Angeles International Airport ruined me.
As the wheels of my Swiss Air Boeing 777 touched down on a predictably sunny day at LAX and taxied toward the Tom Bradley International Terminal, I knew that the 11 hour flight was about to change for the better – and to be clear thanks to the joys of business class it was already a great day. While everyone around me began lacing up their Nike’s ready for the long walk to the ever challenging process known as U.S. Customs and Immigration at LAX, I couldn’t help but smile.
The Private Suite LAX Arrival Experience
As promised, there was a “The Private Suite” agent, who for the record – looks exactly like Secret Service, ear piece and all, waiting for us on the jet bridge and we were most definitely not going where everyone else was.
The stares could be felt from outer space. Our special agent man, Andrew, entered a security code and down an elevator shaft we went. Goodbye weary travelers, hello BMW 750 sedan in wait, directly below the beautiful aircraft. A series of radio clicks and messages were sent, a few semi embarrassing selfies were taken and we were off. Destination: private U.S. immigration at The Private Suite.
Know this security nuts: no safety or protocols are compromised here. I used Global Entry and received a look over from the waiting CBP agent. My wife, an ESTA user, spoke to the agent, filled out all the usual forms and received the same formalities as anyone, with one significant difference – she was the only one in line. The only one.
Within three minutes we were through immigration and placed in our Private Suite. If we weren’t using Uber, a sharp looking sedan would’ve undoubtedly been waiting with the trunk open and an imposing looking agent standing watch.
But First, Price Points For The Private Suite LAX
Before getting into the departure, which was equally cool – it’s time to talk turkey – and you’ll need a lot of it. The Private Suite memberships start at $4,500 per year, and each visit is still around $3,000 – give or take. A representative from the company mentioned that for bulk users, or super users, conversations have happened around these numbers. For United Flyers, it’s worth digging deeper into current “first time” promotions. The rates allow up to 3 companions to travel with you at no additional cost. A second facility is expected to open at New York JFK shortly!
The Private Suite LAX Departure Experience
I’d read about the departure experience on One Mile At A Time and there was one thing I couldn’t wait to test ahead of mine on the way home. Ben noted in his review that the Private Suite was like an incredibly posh CVS, with just about everything you could ever think of, in terms of travel accessories and it’s all FREE. Well, you know…
When our Los Angeles trip came to a close on the shore of Santa Monica, we rang the Private Suite as requested to inform them of our inbound to the facility. Arrival at The Private Suite felt like being in a Jason Bourne film. A heavily armed guard radioed our arrival to the team at the Suite, confirmed our info and the gate was lifted. In less than a minute we were in a private suite equipped with everything under the sun.
Each party is given a point of contact, which I adored. No need to check your watch, worry about boarding times, delays, anything. The Private Suite has an “advance” team in the airport checking on the status of well, everything. They ring your private suite when there’s about 5-10 minutes before it’s time to roll and send you through private TSA screening.
Each wine selected was above 4.1 (out of 5) rating on Vivino, which is excellent. Each catered to a variety of wine styles and the Stags Leap Cabernet was a lovely way to leave Los Angeles. As I was suffering from a cold, I raided the pharmacy (in every suite) and took home a few things to help ease the sniffles. If I needed a universal charger, I could’ve snagged one of those too. It had everything, but I didn’t want to be took cheeky.
Here’s what blew my mind: even if David Beckham and I were on the same flight, they’d stagger our departures by about 3 minutes, so that we wouldn’t have to awkwardly go through security together. When they say “private” they mean PRIVATE. FYI, Suite 12 has an outdoor patio where you can play putt putt, or smoke.
After some lounging on the sofa and a glass of wine, or phone rang and it was time to board. We processed quickly through TSA and departed to our waiting BMW. There’s nothing quite like taking a BMW across the strip at LAX, riding just behind an A380 at ground level.
We walked up the steps to our United flight, first to board and it’s safe to say the crew had quite a puzzled look as well. I did ask, for reference sake if we could’ve boarded last, and the team said they cater as much as logistically possible to each members requests. I’ve done some very crazy airport experiences before, but the seamless professional nature of the Private Suite was just in another league. No detail hadn’t been engineered and guests want for nothing.
$4,500 sounds crazy to most people, but in a city like LA, or New York, where icons roam, I’d be extremely tempted. It’s everything people love about private travel, minus the private jet. And yes, of course, I was generously allowed to sample this gratis, but if you keep clicking my links, I’d pay in the future. It was that good.
Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...
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