Romanticizing air travel is easy for me. I get a genuine thrill from that moment when the wheels lose touch with the runway—and before folding into the plane, they kiss the sky.
But nowadays, when a Ryan Air flight can be booked for €1, or when a Southwest Airlines one-way can be had for $49, just about anyone can fly. What was once cause for formal attire—the kind that punctuates a special occasion—is now typical, easy, common. However, those who travel often have likely discovered various hacks: Global Entry, Mobile Passport, TSA Pre, Priority Pass Lounges, and . . . the most incomparable lounge experience I’ve ever heard of: The Private Suite at LAX.
While The Private Suite has plans to partner with JFK, it is currently available only at LAX.
Here’s a preview of what to expect:
The lounge itself is private. (That’s what you’re paying for.) In fact, it’s technically not in LAX, but near LAX. Its address is: 6875 W. Imperial Hwy, Los Angeles, CA. In most cases, there’d be nobody in your suite but you (and the guests you’ve authorized). There are several private suites. Our suite was the United Suite, and while other passengers could have shared our space, it was unlikely.
The Private Suite comes with a cost. For most, it’s a $4,500 annual membership fee, plus an additional $1500-2000 per visit. We were lucky to receive a special invitation from United, and so our total cost was $500.
Why would somebody pay $500 to use the United Suite when The United Club at LAX is already a very nice lounge?
I don’t have 500 reasons, but here’s a short list:
1. Peace (it’s just you, and your two friends. It’s quiet.)
2. Instead of a buffet, you can order food from a menu.
3. There is a generous selection of alcohol.
4. Amenities are included, everything from Neosporin and Claritin to fingernail clippers, toothpaste, neck pillows, and phone chargers.
5. Security. There are three officers from TSA assigned to process your departure. When it’s time for you to begin the drive to the plane, you leave The United Suite, walk 10 meters to the “security area,” show one TSA Officer your passport and boarding pass, slide your suitcase through the X-ray machine—supervised by an additional TSA Officer—and then stroll through the metal detector, which is supervised by the third TSA Officer. It’s private. It’s cordial. It’s clean. It’s not stressful.
No one else is there. It’s just you, your two friends, three TSA Officers, and your escort.
6. This is the best part. You are driven to the plane.
The Private Suite is located approximately 1 mile from LAX, but it’s connected to the runway, so your escort drives one of the company’s BMWs onto the runway to your awaiting aircraft. We enjoyed approximately 20 minutes on the runway, as we occasionally had to wait for planes to cross and planes to land.
When we finally approached our United Airlines Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner, there was a United Airlines representative waiting for us at the top of the jet bridge, inviting us to ascend the stairs and board the plane. (It must’ve been strange when the other passengers—those walking across the jet bridge—saw us emerge from the stairs that are typically reserved for catering or for gate-checked bags or for employees wearing reflective vests. They must have thought we were Air Marshals!)
But whatever they thought, I thought it was one of the greatest airport experiences ever. I’d eagerly do it again if offered the opportunity by United.
And here’s one more video —for the aviation geeks out there—just because driving on the runway was so much fun:
How can you have this experience?
1. Become a member of The Private Suite LAX ($4,500/year + $1,500/visit).
2. Book a round trip out of LAX on United Airlines in the Polaris cabin. Ideally, UA will contact you. Otherwise, reach out to them. A day at the Private Suite LAX (United Suite) should run you $500, and you can invite up to 4 guests, free of charge. No membership fees are required for the United Suite.
As always, if you have any questions or curiosities, please comment below. Or, of course, feel free to contact me anytime.