Hounding celebrities in airports is a time-honored tradition in the United States. Surprisingly, though, all but the lamest celebrities hate it, and realizing that dark glasses and head scarves aren’t fooling anybody, they’ve started to seek alternate arrangements. Enter: The Private Suite, a $22 million enclave on the far side of the Los Angeles International Airport airfield, wedged in between grubby air-cargo warehouses, that’s been a rabble-free zone for celebs and other one-percenters since it opened last May.
Now, United Airlines has announced a partnership with L.A.’s cool-blue private terminal that will bring the A-list experience to travelers who aren’t negotiating a five-picture deal with Paramount. The airline is offering access to The Private Suite as an extra-cost upgrade for some business-class customers.
Although United promises to make Private Suite access available for purchase on united.com and through the United smartphone app in the coming months, for now, the service is available only through a few corporate travel bookers and only to business-class travelers flying between Los Angeles and New York/Newark; Aspen, Colorado; Hawaii; London Heathrow; Los Cabos, Mexico; Melbourne and Sydney, Australia; Shanghai; Singapore; and Tokyo Narita.
Pricing is a bit hazy at this point. In its announcement of the partnership, United noted that it had “negotiated a highly preferential rate”; what that means remains unclear, but it’s safe to assume that it won’t be cheap. The Private Suite levies a membership fee of $4,500 per year, plus a breathtaking $2,700 for a one-way domestic flight or $3,000 for a one-way international flight. Nonmembers can sample the service for $3,500 domestic or $4,000 international, each way.
What do you get for the extra outlay? Plenty, including 13 individual private lounges with runway views, daybeds, huge bathrooms, full bars, and pantries stocked with high-end goodies, along with personalized check-in and baggage handling, private TSA and customs screenings, and a paparazzi-free ride across the tarmac in a big silver BMW. Each booking has a team of eight to manage the experience.
It’s worth noting that Delta and American beat United to the punch at LAX: The former’s similar Delta One service offers a personalized experience, minus the private suites and the cool car ride, via Terminal 2, and the latter’s Five Star Service does more or less the same via Terminal 4.