The one thing that helped me combat my irritation at being at an airport was the knowledge that airports are the great social equalizer: generally, it doesn’t matter who you are—rich, poor, famous, normal, whatever—you still have to check-in, go through security and get on the moving sidewalks to your gate. It sucks equally for everyone. Not anymore, if LAX has anything to say about it.
Recently, The Los Angeles Times’ Steve Lopez got a chance to visit the new terminal at LAX, which is called the Private Suite. Visit, I might add, not fly out of or into. C’mon, you think a lowly journalist would get to enjoy something like that?
To entice you into a membership, the Private Suite website has these actual words written on it:
It typically takes 2200 footsteps from car seat to plane seat. For members of The Private Suite, it’s 70 footsteps.
And they are all peaceful footsteps.
Please, gag. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Members of the Private Suite don’t have to wait in crowded lines anymore because the security screening is performed in the private terminal. There’s hardly any walking. Or paparazzi.
That last one is key. You know they’re looking at you, Hollywood.
Private suites with private bathrooms with private food pantries and daybeds are available in what seem like various shades of cream and beige. And then, when it’s fly time, members don’t walk to the place, oh noooo.
They get driven in a BMW across the tarmac, directly to the plane.
Eight staff members are assigned to each guest. The website provides a handy little chart—complete with numbers so you don’t have to do the arithmetic yourself—to break down who does what:
I think my favorite is Number Eight.
How much is this extravagant service, you ask? It’s a $7,500 membership fee, plus another $2,700 per group of four people to fly domestically, $3,000 internationally.
Lopez did bring up a valid concern, though: because TSA employees and customs agents are paid by our taxes, does the cost of the Private Suite get pushed onto us?
From the story:
Gavin de Becker, the international security consultant behind the Private Suite... said [the] company is reimbursing the cost of Customs and Border Protection employees, and TSA employees will be used only as needed. [Airport] police will have to respond to fewer disruptions when celebrities are hounded at the airport, and having fewer large clusters of people will be safer, given fears about LAX as a terrorist target. The Private Suite might also be used to process arrivals of international flight crews.
Phew, that’s a relief!
And then this bizarre fucking thing happened when Lopez interviewed de Becker:
He told me to walk across the room, pick up the phone, and tell the operator I just spilled something on my shirt. Just to see what happened.
I followed instructions. The operator asked if I wanted an attendant to knock before entering.
No, he can come right in, I said, adding, “It’s an emergency. There could be a stain.”
In about two minutes, a concierge wheeled in a cart with Banana Republic dress shirts, an Anne Klein blouse and Steve Madden shoes, among other items.
This part made me laugh. Banana Republic? Dude, come on. Your poor is showing.
The thing is, because this is LA, I already know that people have signed up already. Around 1,200, in fact, according to de Becker. Fine. If you want to keep your heads up your own bleached assholes, LA, be my guest.