As the wheels of my Delta Airlines flight DL0566 touched down on to the tarmac in Los Angeles, I knew my journey home had only just begun.
With a six hour layover ahead, followed by another 15 hours in the air, the thought of disembarking and making my way through the airport gates swept me with an instant haze of jet lag.
But what if there was a secret terminal that turned one of the busiest airports in the world in to a five-star, hotel type experience for passengers during a layover?
A place that outshines any other lounge experience in the world, offering guests a space they can retreat to in private while waiting for their connecting flight. It sounds like a dream, right? Well, it’s actually a reality for some flyers — and I got a three hour taste of how the other side live before they fly.
At LAX, there’s a hidden suite reserved for the rich and famous that I got to explore.Source:Supplied
Typically reserved for the rich and famous, this place felt like a world away from the hustle and bustle of LAX. But the catch is that it’s sitting just a short drive from the runway.
While a hotel experience typically begins at check-in, this kicked off as soon as the seatbelt sign on our aircraft switched off.
As the rows of passengers began to file out on to the gangway, a man in a suit holding a sign with my name waited patiently at the aircraft door.
“Ms Brown,” he smiled, before taking my hand-luggage and whisking me through a side door down to the tarmac and away from the rest of the passengers.
I was exposed to the cool Californian air for a brief minute before he quickly opened the door to a silver Audi, which sat patiently beside our plane.
Once you arrive, a ‘Private Suite’ guest is taken off the aircraft and to a private car on the tarmac.Source:Supplied
“I haven’t got my bags yet,” I said as we started to drive towards our destination known as The Private Suite.
“They will be in your suite once we arrive, Ms Brown,” he replied, before placing his hand to his earpiece.
“Expected arrival seven minutes,” he whispered as we wove between taxied planes and airport workers in high-vis coats.
While the rest of the flight had filed into the fluorescent lights of duty free, forking out on expensive airport coffee and stale bagels, my layover was set to be a little more luxurious.
I’d been invited to experience one of the most exclusive ‘lounges’ in the world.Source:Supplied
I’d been invited to experience one of the most exclusive ‘lounges’ in the world, a terminal built specifically for wealthy travellers, celebrities, VIPs and business people seeking solitude and a sanctuary out of the public eye.
Opened in 2017, The Private Suites sits far enough away from away from the tarmac you feel like you’re a world away the airport. But close enough you can venture over to the terminal in just a few minutes before your departing flight.
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The car then arrives at the terminal.Source:Supplied
One of your eight private staffers help escort guests through a private security area at the suite.Source:Supplied
Forget collecting your own bags, you have an escort for that.Source:Supplied
The single-storey terminal offers a private, quiet and crowd-free space with hotel-like rooms filled with every drink, snack and set of toiletries imaginable.
Each guest is assigned eight staff members to make their experience seamless. One helps out with getting guests in to the compound, another escorts guests to their suite, two other escorts ensure guests have set meals and beverages ready upon arrival, while the other four deal with private security screenings, luggage collection and transfers to and from the aircraft door. It’s a slick operation, and I’d never felt so VIP in my life.
The sweet station in one of the suites.Source:Supplied
If you’re a little parched pre-flight, these suites have a solution.Source:Supplied
The logistic process behind each arriving guest ensures for a seamless arrival and departure experience. Imagine having an airline priority lounge all to yourself — and never having to wait in line.
Owned and operated by Gavin de Becker and Joshua Gausman, The Private Suite at LAX is the first-of-its-kind in the United States following the success of a similar lounge in London.
Inside the world’s best airport loungeSource:Supplied
After getting a thorough treatment at the private TSA security gate, my escort guided me through several back doors and in to my very own suite facing towards the runway.
The ultra modern complex looked like a luxe motel complex, fitted out with alcohol, mini-Nutella jars, lolly dispensers, coffee machines, slippers, headphones, perfume, sleeping masks, a toy menu and play area for the kids, neck pillows, beer, spirits and a lot of wine.
You can pre-order hot meals in advance, stretch out in a bed and jump in a shower before taking off again. Oh, and if you’re a member you can bring three pals in to the suite to keep you company as well.
If a bit of pre-flight pampering is what you need, the bathroom is fully stocked.Source:Supplied
Each room is stocked with various products to make your layover that little bit more enjoyable.Source:Supplied
Hungover? There’s a quick fix for that.Source:Supplied
If you’re in need of a few electronics before your flight, these will come in handy.Source:Supplied
But all this glam comes with a pretty grim price tag, because let’s face it — a life of luxury never comes cheap.
Firstly, you’ll be asked to pay an annual membership fee of AU$6,650 which is just the tip of the iceberg to use the facilities. Then, you’ll need to fork out an additional AU$3990 for each domestic flight, and $4435 for each international journey.
If you don’t want to be on a yearly membership, but still hope to spend some time in a suite, non-members can pay a once off fee between $AU4,500 for domestic flights and $AU5,925 for international flights, which covers up to two additional guests.
Inside feels like a hotel room, with your own small kitchen area.Source:Supplied
The Wi-Fi is fast, and the Netflix stocked.Source:Supplied
The lounge area also includes a bed so you can grab a quick nap in before you flySource:Supplied
It’s not cheap, but for celebrities who are stalked by paparazzi in the public terminals at LAX and wealthy businesspeople and families hoping to get a bit of shut-eye between flights, it’s a safe haven offering the best privacy, security, and amenities money can buy.
This writer was a guest of the Private Suites at Los Angeles International Airport
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