Owning a private jet has long been an ultimate symbol of wealth and status. Avoiding lengthy queues and bypassing airport security in favour of jumping aboard your own luxury plane is the preserve of the truly privileged, be it Tom Cruise and Oprah or the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and an easy way of securing privacy. With prices of private jets starting at $3 million and stretching to $90 million, it's a luxury afforded by only the truly wealthy.
As we enter a more environmentally-conscious era, where consumers are more aware of their impact on the planet, suddenly using private aviation seems jarring. Flying is the fastest-growing source of carbon emissions, and yet - while many of us do our recycling and avoid fast fashion - we look the other way when it comes to air travel. The emissions associated with private jets are even higher - as the New York Times reports "seats are bigger, so fewer people are being moved by the same amount of fuel".
Ideally, we would all fly less - and doing so would mean airline companies would burn less fuel - but for celebrities and high-powered executives, a certain amount of travel is a necessary part of the job. The solution? Enticing the rich and famous back onto commercial flights by making the airport process more luxurious. LAX introduced The Private Suite in 2018, a model expected to be replicated around the world, and it's already proved very popular.
Guests avoid crowded concourses and instead are taken to a luxury suite while you wait for your flight, private security screening, and a chauffeur-driven ride across the tarmac to your commercial plane. Each of the 12 available suites comes complete with a stocked fridge and kitchen, bathroom, two-man bedroom, living room and outdoor space. Manicures, massages and other spa treatments are also on offer for those who want to feel truly zen ahead of their trip. Fans already include Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck.
"Let’s face it – one of the major benefits of private aviation travel is the on-the-ground experience," says the company's CCO, Amina Belouizdad. "At the Private Suite, we are closing the gap between private and commercial travel by providing an alternative airport experience that is seamless, peaceful and luxurious. This gives clients weighing the choice between commercial and private aviation more of a reason to fly commercial and therefore lessen their carbon footprint."
Prices are high - an annual membership costs $4,500 (about £3,700), and then on top of that members pay $2,700 (about £2,200) for a one-way domestic flight and $3,000 (about £2,500) for an international flight. Non-members pay more.
Belouizdad is keen to stress that the terminal is completely different to anything you may have experienced at a standard club lounge. "For one, when our clients travel through The Private Suite they bypass the airport completely since we have our own stand-alone private terminal," she says. "There are no lines, no crowds and no check-in counters. We create a personal sanctuary so that our guests can spend their time as they wish before and after their flight. They can hold meetings in our onsite video-equipped conference room, spend their time outdoors with lawn games for kids and pets, or relax and get pampered with spa services in the privacy of their own suite.
"Also, a distinctive feature is that we can accommodate non-travelling guests. This allows our members to spend time with friends, family or colleagues until the moment they depart to board their flight."
So far, the only other planned destination for The Private Suite is New York, which is expected to open in 2020 - although it's unlikely to be the last airport to host the luxury terminal. "The feedback has been incredible," says Belouizdad. "The most popular question we get asked is, 'When are you opening in New York? Miami? Chicago? San Francisco?' We can’t wait to expand and offer The Private Suite end-to-end in every major city in the United States."
From Harper´s Bazaar U.K.