This Secret Airport Upgrade Is the Next Best Thing to Flying Private
In an era where flying can be less than pleasant, this was peak luxury.
In an era when travel can reach peak suck—delays, cancellations, weather hazards—I’m all about the little (and not so little) luxuries. Stockpiling credit-card miles to splurge on a business-class ticket for a bucket-list trip? Absolutely. Becoming an airline loyalist to get perks like free checked luggage and upgrade eligibility? Not a question. Dealing with the hassle of TSA Pre sign ups in the pandemic to ensure speedy boarding? Sign me up. So when I heard about the new Private Suite at LAX, also known as PS, I knew I had to give it a try. And let me tell you, #worthit.
Let’s talk details. Travelers can book their trip using the PS website, and the access admittedly isn’t cheap at $995 for a single use. (Membership programs offer rates that sting slightly less.) That being said, from start to finish, it’s a totally seamless experience that’s absolutely worth it for a special occasion, especially if you’re an aviation nerd (or, you can simply afford such luxuries in your daily life. In which case, good. for. you!)
You arrive to a private gated entrance just outside the LAX main airport, and immediately are shuffled off to what’s the most bespoke, white-glove treatment you’ll ever receive at an airport. The first thing you’ll notice upon arrival at the main salon area is the design. The space looks more like a luxe hotel lobby than an airport lounge, with brass Art Deco fixtures, cozy azure velvet couches, and a mirrored bar adorned with mid-century modern stools. If you really want some privacy, you can splurge on a private suite, which offers panoramic views of the tarmac, allowing you to watch the planes gracefully take off from a vantage point like no other.
Highlight number one was the food. Aside from the business class lounges in Asia, I have never had such good food at an airport. The pork bánh mì was to die for, properly spiced with a punch of aioli and wonderfully juicy pork, and a delightful baguette. I saved my side of a salmon soba noodle salad for when I arrived in Denver, which was late at night when restaurants closed, and I’d never been happier. The bar is also top tier, with Champagne and craft cocktails on offer.
Second was the selection of amenities. They literally had everything you’d ever need—luxe Le Labo spa products, nail files, tampons, eye drops, and more, all complimentary. There was an entire coffee table filled with the latest issues of popular glossy magazines to pick from, saving me from the lack of in-flight entertainment later on. Each guest gets their own concierge to guide them through the experience, making sure their every wish is catered to. The concierge will give you a pre-flight departure card, and keep you informed of any changes within your schedule, personally escorting you to the next leg of your journey.
The real showstopper, though, was the trip from the lounge to the aircraft. The concierge shuffles you from the salon across the way to your private TSA screening. To me, bypassing the hellscape that is TSA is almost worth the price of admission alone. I was the only traveler being screened, and there’s even a fridge full of liquid refreshments for you to take with you once you pass through. Then, you’re bundled into a luxury vehicle on the actual tarmac, passing by international Airbuses. For me, it was absolutely mesmerizing getting to drive by all the planes before takeoff, seeing them from a totally different angle than I’ve ever experienced before. After a lifetime of travel, I’ve never had such a magical, memorable pre-flight experience, and hope to be able to justify another trip with PS soon.