Sorry, paparazzi, celebs now get private treatment at LAX

Celebrities can be whisked away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi and the public. Photo / AP
Celebrities can be whisked away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi and the public. Photo / AP

Sorry, paparazzi. Celebrities who are sick of being stalked by photographers at Los Angeles International Airport can now find some privacy — not to mention luxury — at a new terminal.

The facility called the Private Suite opened Monday and offers an exclusive entrance, one-on-one security screening and plush lounges. And privileged travelers get a private car ride across the tarmac to and from the aircraft, head-of-state style.

The US$22-million facility caters to celebrities and others who want to pay a premium for privacy. Photo / AP
The US$22-million facility caters to celebrities and others who want to pay a premium for privacy. Photo / AP

The terminal is available to anyone who can afford fees up to US$4000 ($5810) for a single flight.

Here are some things to know.

PRIVACY PLUS CONVENIENCE

It's being called "premium class" — a terminal far from the crowds and lines of public concourses. Celebrities, executives and other wealthy travelers are greeted on a driveway that's behind gates to keep photogs at bay. A team of eight attendants handle their luggage and whisk them through a dedicated security gate into one of more than a dozen suites. There VIPs can nap on daybeds, watch TVs, snack from stocked refrigerators and use their own private bathrooms. When it's time to catch their flights, passengers get a ride in shiny BMW sedans across the runway and straight to the planes.

Private Suite officials estimate the typical LAX passenger takes 2200 steps from car seat to plane seat. For those who pay for the pampering, it's a mere 70 footsteps, according to the service.

It's available for all departing and arriving commercial flights at LAX.

The facilities offers an exclusive entrance, one-on-one security screening and plush lounges. Photo / AP
The facilities offers an exclusive entrance, one-on-one security screening and plush lounges. Photo / AP

COMFORT AT A PRICE

Access to the Private Suite is available for a fee of $3500 ($5084) for each domestic flight or $4000 for each international flight. That covers up to four passengers. Those who purchase an annual membership for $7500 ($10,894) will get a discount of about $1000 on per-flight fees.

PRIVATELY RUN

The new facility was built for $22 million ($32 million) by Gavin de Becker and Associates, a security consulting firm, at no cost to the airport or taxpayers. The Los Angeles company said it's the first terminal of its kind in the U.S. " but it's based on a facility at London's Heathrow Airport that offers private high-end service for members. Private terminals also can be found at international airports in Dubai, Munich, Zurich and other cities. De Becker said it's in negotiations to open a similar one at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

This undated artist rendering shows a private Transportation Security Administration portal at the Private Suite. Photo / AP
This undated artist rendering shows a private Transportation Security Administration portal at the Private Suite. Photo / AP

The company said the terminal has created 125 new jobs and will generate $35 million ($50 million) in revenue for the airport over the next nine years.

The terminal benefits the airport, the company said, because it reduces the potential for drama and delay from celebrities and other attention-getting VIPs moving through public areas.

- AP

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