Ten years from now, the flying experience will likely look vastly different–but for the most part, only the richest citizens will be able to shell out enough cash to experience it.
This world of ultra-high-end airborne luxury is arriving faster than you might expect. The latest example? The Private Suite at Los Angeles International Airport, an entirely separate terminal meant for celebrities, businesspeople, and anyone with enough cash to pay the hefty $3,500 price tag for a domestic flight (and to be clear, this doesn’t include the plane ticket itself, or the yearly membership fee).
In return, these one-percenters get to skip the crowds, the lines, and the paparazzi found at LAX’s normal terminals. Instead, they can roll up to the private terminal, where they can wait for their flight in a private suite, with a private bathroom, minibar, daybed, and wi-fi. When it’s time for their flight, the TSA comes to them–not the other way around. And once they’ve been privately screened at the Private Suite, a BMW picks them up and takes them directly to their plane. If they arrive at LAX, they get the same treatment, with chocolates and leather armchairs greeting them at a private immigration and customs desk, according to The Guardian.
The Private Suite’s website says that this is all possible because there are no less than eight people who attend to each member of the Private Suite during their stay, including attendants, security guards, and drivers–it calls this “Head-of-State style.” The architect for the project was Millard Lee of the Los Angeles-based firm AC Martin.
If this is making you gag a little bit (whether with disgust or jealousy), you’re probably not alone. It seems like a service that Trump would be thrilled to use, if he wasn’t jetting around on Air Force One. The Private Suite’s developers, Gavin de Becker and Associates, is a security consulting company, and they’ve footed the entire cost of the terminal–so no taxpayer money has been spent on it. It was inspired by the Windsor Suite, which is a similar service at London Heathrow, but is the first of its kind in the United States.
To avail of The Private Suite’s luxuries, there’s a $7,500 annual membership fee, plus $2,700 for domestic flights and $3,000 for international flights, which covers a group of four. If you’re not a member, you pay up to $1,000 more per flight. For some celebrities and wealthy fliers, it may be a small price to pay if it means they don’t have to rub shoulders with the plebeians anymore.
In some ways, adding more amenities to the airport rather than to airplanes makes perfect sense for an industry where every pound added to an aircraft has big implications on fuel cost across an entire fleet. For the super-luxury market, there’s still a limited amount of space that airlines can give their customers in the air.
And for the rest of us, better amenities in the airport itself are also on the way–even if that will never involve our own suite, TSA agent, or BMW ride to the plane.