My husband hates to fly. HATES it. And it’s not a fear of flying at all, in fact he’s totally comfortable with flying itself, what he hates is the airport. Specifically the lines, the people, the crowds, the waiting. For someone with any kind of social or crowd-based anxiety, an airport is basically hell on Earth. For someone who is used to having things his way basically all the time, being told what to do, where to stand and herded like a sheep makes him absolutely insane. Even with a Xanax it’s barely tolerable and he starts sweating, pacing, gets short of breath. It’s not fun for either of us. Considering how much we enjoy traveling and that we can’t always fly privately, we needed a solution.
American Express offered us, as a benefit of our Centurion member status, a free membership to Private Suite (now just called PS) at LAX and we couldn’t wait to try it out. We first took advantage of it on our trip to New York recently and it was SO much easier. Then we gave it another try when we flew to London last month and for international travel, it was even a better arrangement. The easiest, breeziest I’ve ever flown overseas.
You never actually go to LAX, your driver (or you) heads to a side street near the airport to a tall private gate with a guard shack. A heavily armed guard checks your credentials and lets you through (there’s a lot of celebrities who use this service so they are tight on security). Your hosts are waiting at the curb for you and show you to your private suite, they manage your luggage and vehicle. You would have been contacted ahead of time to ask if you’d like a meal to be waiting in your suite (delivered fresh from Wally’s Beverly Hills), a massage or manicure maybe?
Your suite is your own sanctuary for the length of your stay. It’s stocked with drinks, snacks, toys for the kids, pet friendly, has any toiletries or medicine you might have forgotten. A TV plays your favorite HGTV shows and there are magazines and a comfy window bench to nap on. We got a chair massage and it was heaven. There’s even an outdoor play area for kids and pets.
While you relax, your hosts check your bags into your flights, get your boarding passes and make sure there’s no delays you need to worry about. You tell them if you prefer to board first or near the end and they come and get you when it’s time. Then you pass through your own private TSA and customs security station right there in the lobby (no line, no airport) and get in one of their waiting towncars. They drive you across the tarmac to your plane, door to door service. You never step foot in the airport. They hand you off to a stewardess who walks you up some steps to the footbridge and onto the plane where you get front of the line service.
You NEVER enter the airport and you never wait in a single line. It’s not cheap, it’s several thousand dollars on top of your plane fare for your whole group, but if you can afford it, it’s SO worth it. To start your vacation off relaxed, not stressed and rushing or with your kids or husband or elderly family members having a meltdown is worth the expense. Again, if it’s in the budget of course. Right now this service is available at Los Angeles only, but I am hoping they open at other major airports soon.