I visited the newly designed private terminal at LAX and saw why wealthy travelers are spending thousands for a membership

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
  • PS, the private terminal at LAX, has been a haven for wealthy travelers looking to avoid the traveling public.
  • As a result, memberships have been surging as the wealthy want a more private experience.
  • I visited a newly redesigned suite and saw first-hand what they're paying thousands of dollars for.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.
PS opened in 2017 as the Private Suite, a one-of-a-kind private terminal at one of the country's busiest airports. Like most travel and hospitality companies, business was down at the pandemic's peak in 2020 as would-be travelers stayed at home amid lockdowns.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
But just over one full year since lockdowns began, PS is reporting a resurgence in new memberships from flyers getting ready to travel.
PS (Private Suite) at LAX
PS at Los Angeles International Airport.
Amina Belouizdad, PS' co-chief executive officer, told Insider that memberships have surged and the company has signed on more new members than it had before the pandemic. Annual membership costs $4,500 but the wealthy are scooping them up, even if they don't have upcoming travel planned.
PS (Private Suite) at LAX
PS at Los Angeles International Airport.
"I think people want to have peace of mind that they have access to this," Belouizdad said. "It's a signal of customer sentiment, is what it is. People are saying, 'I'm expecting to travel over the next year, I want to make sure me and my family can do it safely.'"
PS (Private Suite) at LAX
PS at Los Angeles International Airport.
And with that in mind, PS is embarking on a redesign for its Los Angeles flagship terminal to welcome back travelers with a new look. I stopped by PS on a recent layover in Los Angeles, here's what it was like.
Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic
The major appeal of PS is avoiding the commercial terminal at LAX entirely, and that's only increased during the pandemic. Memberships are up as the wealthy want guaranteed access, even if they don't have plans to fly in the near future.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
For those arriving at LAX by plane, the experience starts with a chauffeured car. PS representatives wait in the jetway to meet guests as soon as they step off of their flights, and promptly escort them to an awaiting vehicle below.
PS Direct
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
PS has a fleet of vehicles available to use depending on group size but the flagship is the BMW 750i. Ideal for one to two passengers, the classic all-white sedan features an executive configuration for passengers in the back.
PS Direct
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
The car is loaded with luxurious amenities including leather seats with recline functionality to individual climate control for passengers in the back.
PS Direct
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
There are even seat-back entertainment screens from which the SiriusXM radio can be controlled.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
Then, it's around a 10 to 15-minute drive to PS, located on the south side of the airport. As two runways separate the facility from the commercial terminals, drivers have to go all the way around the airport while obeying the airport's modest speed limit
PS Direct
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
As an aviation enthusiast, however, I wish the drive lasted longer as we were right alongside moving aircraft for most of the drive.
PS Direct
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
Behemoth jets like the Boeing 747 were just outside the window, departing and landing just feet from the car.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
It was like getting a private tour of the airport all while traveling at the height of luxury.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
Upon arrival at PS, it's just a short walk down a private hallway into the facility. Everything from reservations to payment is done online so there's no checking in or waiting in line. I didn't even see another guest for the entirety of my stay.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
There are 13 suites in total at PS. Not all have received the redesign but that project is expected to be completed within the next six months.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
I walked into the suite and felt as if I'd just checked into a luxury hotel.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
It was incredibly modern and above any private lounge that I've seen at an airport. Members pay $3,250 per visit while non-members pay $4,350 per visit for up to four travelers.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
The suites aren't as large as a hotel suite but are comparable in size to a New York City studio apartment and include spacious living areas, wet bars, fully-stocked mini-fridges, and private bathrooms, among other features.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
PS takes a personal touch when dealing with guests. A handwritten note is left for guests welcoming them to the facility and detailing what they can expect from the stay.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
A massive high-definition television with DirecTV serves as the main entertainment for the suite, helping pass the time until a flight.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
Guests can also make use of the in-suite phone and stationary. PS staff use the phone to communicate with guests and keep them informed on their departure information.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
This quasi-kitchen and wet bar are where all of the suite's food and beverage items can be found.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
A selection of high-end snacks, liquors, and wines were all on offer and available free of charge to guests.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
Snacks included pistachios, almonds, keto-friendly cereal, and water crackers, to name just a few.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
Guests are also encouraged to take snacks with them on the plane and given this blue box to do so.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
The fridge contained chilled soft drinks, waters, milk, alcoholic beverages, and even some more snacks. A guest here will truly want for nothing as everything is at their fingertips.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
Those making cocktails can use the bar station and the pre-filled bucket of ice.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
And there was no shortage of glasses, cups, and dishes to use when dining.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
Complimentary travel accessories were also scattered across the suite including noise-isolating headphones, headphone splitters, and charging cables.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
The luxury continued into the restroom complete with marble floors and vanities, as well as gold-plated sink faucets.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
And the complimentary amenities kept on coming with everything a traveler would need to freshen up before a flight.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
There was even a selection of over-the-counter medications on offer if a traveler is feeling unwell or just wants a dose of Vitamin C to boost the immune system while traveling.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
The suite design is the result of a partnership with Cliff Fong, a renowned design consultant, and it really felt like home instead of a transient space.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
"Our vision was always like, let's create a space that feels residential, that feels like their home, that doesn't feel like the airport, that doesn't feel like a commercial space, that feels very familiar and collected," Belouizdad said.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
The suite window overlooked the airfield, as well as the PS fleet of luxury vehicles. The firm also offers a new service, called PS Direct, where flyers can be taken straight from their domestic flights to their final destination and avoid both the commercial terminal and the PS facility altogether.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
Directly adjacent to the suite is an outdoor patio with benches and chairs to enjoy a bit of the outdoors before heading off on a plane for however many hours.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
Suite 13 is often the most sought after since it includes this private outdoor space, accessible via a sliding door from the living room.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
Meals are included in the stay and everything comes pre-packaged for sanitary reasons.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
The current menu is largely focused on Los Angeles-inspired meals, mainly salads and sandwiches, for lunch and dinner.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
I sampled the Peruvian steak sandwich and the chicken and prosciutto salad. Both were bursting with flavor and better than most of what's available even in LAX's premium lounges.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
It really came as no surprise that the wealthy are buying up access to the facility since staying here was so much more enjoyable than any airport experience I've had in years.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
For me, I found the true luxury of the suite wasn't the complimentary goodies that were offered but that it was a quiet place to relax during a long layover nestled into an already long day of travel. Suites also feature a sleep kit with eyeshades and earplugs.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
When it was time to leave, PS staff came to the suite and escorted me to the in-house Transportation and Security Administration checkpoint. There's no line and TSA PreCheck was available.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
Then, it was just a short drive back to the commercial terminals and my awaiting JetBlue Airways flight.
PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
Read the original article on Business Insider

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