Los Angeles International Airport is building a special terminal to shield celebrities from the indignities of paparazzi photos and encounters with—or even just the mere sight of—the general public.
Airport commissioners have unanimously approved a plan to redevelop a cargo hanger into a VIP access terminal. For $1,500 to $1,800 per flight, celebrities and diplomats will be able to drive (or, more likely, be driven) into a covered entrance before entering a terminal with its own security line, passport controls, and lounges. When it’s time to board, a service will drive passengers directly to the plane.
Regular yokels at LAX walk an average of 2,200 steps from the curb to the plane. Users of the Los Angeles Suite will have to walk no more than 60, the Guardian notes.
While several US airlines offer VIP services (skipping lines, getting a dedicated handler who will guide guests from check-in to lounge), this is the first US airport to separate the celebrity wheat from the public chaff entirely.
It’s modeled on the Windsor Suite at London’s Heathrow Airport, originally intended exclusively for use by the royal family and visiting heads of state. It lost public funding in 2008, and now anyone willing to shell out £2,000 ($3,050) for the privilege can use it.
A temporary facility at LAX will be up and running in six months. The finished product will be built and operated by Gavin de Becker and Associates, a private celebrity security firm. It will invest at least $3 million in the project over the first three years of the 10-year lease term, according to public documents.
If it’s successful, the company plans to roll out similar services in New York and other US markets, profoundly endangering the nation’s supply of tabloid photographs featuring traveling celebrities looking disheveled and shoving people.
LAX officials expect the terminal will bring $34 million in revenue in the first 10 years.