I’m a travel writer, but like most people, I was nervous about flying during the pandemic’s peak. I decided to only take my family on local road trips from our Los Angeles home to Airbnbs in Palm Springs or Big Bear.
This summer, on the other hand, felt like it was finally the appropriate moment. However, with the Delta variant soaring just days before our vacation, we were concerned about flying through our busy home airport of LAX.
Fortunately, there was an alternative that allowed us to skip the airport entirely and board our Delta flight immediately. PS (short for “Private Suite”) is a popular choice among celebrities and dignitaries who prefer to wait for their flight in complete solitude, with benefits like private TSA screenings, chef-prepared meals, spa baths, and even a driver to transport you to your jet waiting on the tarmac.
As a result, PS is prohibitively expensive for many. Fortunately, they’ve launched a second, new location called Salon, which provides a similar isolated, opulent airport experience for a fraction of the price.
I got a sneak peek at Salon and took a tour of PS – here’s what you should know about each and how my experience went.
What is a Private Suite (PS) at Los Angeles International Airport?
PS, or Special Suite, is a private luxury service available to passengers flying commercially from LAX. Despite its proximity to the LAX airfield, it is not part of the airport. Rather, it permits passengers to bypass the terminals entirely.
Guests instead arrive at PS and check in like they would at a hotel. In a luxury ultra-private lounge packed with basics, chef-prepared meals on demand, and attentive personnel, passengers relax and prepare for their trip.
What is the procedure for using a Private Suite at LAX?
A room at PS is reserved exclusively for you and your traveling companions. There will be no one else with you for the duration of your wait till your flight.
If customers are checking bags, PS recommends arriving 90 minutes before a domestic flight or two hours before an international trip. You can come up to three hours before your flight and stay as long as you need if it is delayed.
When a flight is scheduled, the personnel and control room team members arrange the experience so that it works smoothly and flawlessly, coordinating behind the scenes with government, security, and airline officials. PS escorts take you through the TSA process with the help of TSA personnel.
PS does not require a pre-screening process, nor does it require TSA PreCheck or a first-class reservation. In fact, TSA PreCheck status has no bearing here because the process is already accelerated.
When it’s time to catch a commercial aircraft, chauffeured BMWs are waiting to transport them directly to the tarmac after passing through a private TSA security checkpoint (there’s no waiting from this point).
PS is now only available at LAX, but it has goals and plans to expand to other big metro airports. Expect MIA to be the next stop, with JFK not far behind.
What is the cost of a Private Suite at LAX?
It should come as no surprise that Private Suites at LAX are exceedingly pricey and out of reach for most people, given their white-glove treatment. It’s long been a favorite of celebrities, dignitaries, and high-ranking professionals who require confidentiality and the highest level of luxury.
Each suite can accommodate a party of four people, and the experience costs $4,350 for a group of four non-members and $3,250 for a group of four members.
It is an option, not a need, to join. Individual membership costs $4,500 per year and includes perks like valet parking, car detailing, chef-prepared meals to eat in-suite and take onboard, handcrafted cocktails, in-suite massages, manicures, haircuts, children’s toys, use of the members’ shower spa, and the option to have a concierge doctor wait in their suite.
For domestic arrivals, members can be taken home in a car right from the aircraft door. The cost of that service, dubbed Direct, is $3,450 for up to four passengers. A $500 fee is charged for each additional traveler.
What is included with LAX’s Private Suites?
A team of agents is allocated to each Private Suite expressly to coordinate your say.
En-suite bathtubs are standard in all suites, with a spa shower available upon request. Food, drinks, and travel necessities are included in the fee, although you can pay a little more for off-menu requests.
Each suite also includes a high-definition television and entertainment system, as well as complimentary Wi-Fi.
Transportation to and from the PS site is not included, but can be provided at an extra cost through our black car partner Alto.
A private TSA screening experience, dedicated customs and immigration assistance on arrival, and a driver to or from the plane are all included in the price, along with all taxes and duties.
Parking, vehicle detailing, and spa services are all complimentary for members. Non-members can purchase these items a la carte.
What exactly is the Salon?
PS launched a new service named The Salon on July 30, 2021.
The Salon at LAX caters to solitary or business travelers, couples, or anyone who doesn’t require a complete suite or prefers a luxurious experience at a lower cost.
How much does it cost to go to Salon?
Members and non-members alike will pay $695 per person for Salon at LAX. PS members get free valet parking, car detailing, and checked luggage when they travel through The Salon.
What distinguishes The Salon from Private Suites?
The Salon is only semi-private, unlike Private Suites, which are entirely removed and exclusive to the party of up to four guests in the room. It’s intended for single travelers or couples who don’t require all of the amenities or privacy of the suites but still wish to avoid the airport.
No guests under the age of 21 or pets are permitted, and cocktails and snacks are still included. They are, however, in the suites.
The Salon resembles a high-end hotel lobby lounge, complete with a long bar and plush seating areas. Because you avoid the airport, public screenings, and group boarding, it’s a significant upgrade over an airport lounge. It includes a luggage porter and the same flight coordination as PS, as well as a trip to the tarmac (in a Mercedes Sprinter van with other passengers on your flight), but in a semi-private rather than all-to-yourself situation.
The security procedure is the same as it is for private suites, with the exception that Salon guests may pass through with any other passengers on the same flight.
Which is better: a private suite or a salon?
The Private Suite, if you have the budget and the opportunity, is unrivaled in terms of luxury and solitude. Aside from the personnel, you won’t meet anyone outside of your traveling party. The Salon, on the other hand, may accommodate up to 50 people.
Travelers utilizing the Salon will have access to two showers on a first-come, first-served basis, while those staying in the suites will have access to showers upon request.
Both feel opulent, with private TSA screening, dedicated staff, including a luggage bellman, and limo trips to the tarmac to avoid the airport entirely.
The best option is determined by your trip expectations. The Private Suite is the ideal option for a sumptuous, intimate experience that is best suited to parties and families. The Salon is a much smarter, not to mention more inexpensive, solution for the solitary traveler who wants to bypass the airport but doesn’t want a complete suite.
Who should make the PS or Salon reservations?
The suites are ideal for groups and families because the price includes four tickets and children are permitted in the suites but not in The Salon. Pets are in the same boat. PS is also the greatest option for celebrities who want to remain anonymous.
Rather than paying a bill for four persons, solo travelers or couples should go to Salon.
How can you make a reservation for PS or Salon?
The Salon and Private Suites can both be reserved online through the website.
Annual members have the option of booking their position as long in advance as they choose. Members who join for one day can make reservations up to three months in advance.
PS requests 48 hours’ notice in order to cooperate with airlines, the Transportation Security Administration, and US Customs and Border Protection, as well as to adhere to airport safety rules.
PS: My Experience at LAX
The biggest draw of PS for my family, including our unvaccinated 7-year-old twins, was the extra safety and reassurance of fewer touchpoints by avoiding the airport entirely. PS compensated us because I’m a well-known travel journalist.
Alto, PS‘ private car service partner, came to our house and picked us up. You can even park your own vehicle at PS and have it washed while you’re gone.
The car had a plexiglass partition between the driver and the passengers, and when we arrived at PS, we were greeted by employees who functioned as a butler for the duration of our stay.
Our bags was rolled from the car to suite 13, which appeared to be a high-end hotel apartment or residence.
Our Private Suite included a kitchenette, numerous lounge seating groups (exclusively for our family within the private space), a TV, a phone, an elegant bathroom, and a sliding glass door that led to an adjacent patio.
The entire suite was completely packed with all of the necessities in case you forgot something.
The fridge was stocked with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and the pantry had snacks and even a take-out box ready for your journey.
The bathroom was opulent and reminiscent of a posh hotel room. My children were particularly taken aback by the hot bidet.
Our room did not have a shower, however one can be requested ahead of time.
There were also individual packs of every over-the-counter drug you would need, as well as toothbrushes, masks, and other items in the bathroom.
Guests are welcome to grab a tray stocked with gadget items such as extra phone chargers and headphone splitters from the lounge area.
All of these features add to the overall value of the package.
We ordered from the available menu because we had rushed out of our house early and hadn’t had breakfast yet.
We ordered fruit smoothies, cappuccinos, and lox-filled bagel platters, and the process seemed a much like ordering room service at a hotel.
Even though we arrived 90 minutes before our flight, it didn’t feel like a hassle. It was more like getting a head start on a luxurious vacation.
A phone in the apartments links to a staff member who will handle any needs, similar to how you would call the front desk or concierge at a hotel. I contacted to inquire about the availability of Wi-Fi on my flight. The person on the other end of the line did some investigation and then quickly returned the call with the answer.
I also took a small break from our suite to take a pre-opening tour of the Salon, which was slated to open in just a few days. It had many of the same features as the Private Suites, such as top design, but it welcomed solitary travelers or couples in a shared environment.
A well-kept outdoor space was being built just next to it. Guests of both the Salon and the Private Suites can use it.
While I wished I’d had more time to savor our Private Suite’s absolutely sumptuous experience, our designated coordinator arrived shortly after to start the process of shepherding us through security.
So, whereas in a typical airport configuration, security is completed first, in the case of PS, it is completed last before boarding.
We were escorted from the suite to a private screening room staffed by TSA screeners in uniform, but with no other passengers.
PS visitors are used to seeing vacant screening rooms. Salon, on the other hand, anticipate to go through with anyone else on your flight.
Our passports were checked, and our baggage were placed on a conveyor belt, exactly like at the airport.
We boarded a private car for a 10-minute picturesque trip around the airfields, covering two miles at a speed of 20 miles per hour.
Consider it a behind-the-scenes tour of a Hollywood studio. We have access to areas of the airport that most people never view, such as the back-end operations, catering cars traveling around runways, and airplanes, all from a unique vantage position.
Finally, our driver arrived at the tarmac in front of our Delta airplane. The team assisted us with our luggage up the stairs, bypassing the jetway used by other passengers, dropped us off exactly at the airplane door, and said their goodbyes.
We were safe the entire time, and we also felt like kings.
Last but not least
There is no safer or more luxurious method to travel by commercial plane at LAX than via PS in terms of social distancing.
By avoiding the airport entirely, you decrease the number of locations where viruses might spread and avoid the stress of crowds at check-in, security, and boarding. You’ll also have the opportunity to spend time in an ultra-luxurious setting similar to that of a five-star hotel. If I had the option, I would select it every time.
Of course, such an event comes at a significant cost. It’s prohibitively expensive for most, at $3,250 for a party of four in a Private Suite if one is a member (roughly $800 per person) or $4,350 if no one is a member (roughly $800 per person), and not a great value if you’re traveling with less than four because you’re still paying the full group price.
Fortunately, the shiny new Salon throws a wrench in the works. For $695, you’ll get a luxurious, exclusive experience with no more than 50 other individuals.
Both the Private Suite and the Salon are, in fact, exceedingly high-end. They’re for celebrities, business travelers on a budget, or anyone wishing to splurge on a bucket-list trip, a special occasion such as a honeymoon, or to avoid flying entirely. Or, to be more honest, anyone without a budget.