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Business

Los Angeles airport plans ultra-VIP lounge

Los Angeles airport already has VIP lounges. Now it's going to build a super-VIP lounge in a separate building to enhance the security of celebrities and the super-rich. Take that, ordinary VIPs and ye merely-rich!

Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, London, Moscow, Dubai, Amsterdam, Geneva, Madrid, Zurich, even Istanbul already have them: Special ultra-posh extra-VIP lounges with private suites for celebrities and the super-rich, enabling them to avoid rubbing shoulders with lesser VIPs - and to better ensure their personal security. It's about time that Los Angeles airport (LAX) got one too.

Now it's going to. On Thursday, Los Angeles Airport Commission approved a 10-year lease with personal security firm Gavin de Becker Associates LP, which plans to build a "remote lounge" for the very seriously rich and seriously famous - actors, musicians, athletes, government bigwigs. It will enable separate check-in and transport to scheduled commercial aircraft at LAX - at a level of service one imagines will be exceptionally pleasant.

Gavin de Becker Associates (GdB) told the Commission that the US Transportation Safety Authority (TSA) supported the project, and cited the existence of similar facilities in a number of other major airports around the world as precedents.

USA Los Angeles David & Victoria Beckham

The Beckhams went through LAX in 2007 when David traded football for soccer. Will they use GdB's new remote lounge?



The new lounge will be situated in an old cargo hangar near LAX's southernmost runway, far away from the airport's main terminal and its herds of hoi polloi. The building will require a few million dollars' worth of renovations before it's ready for prime time. That shouldn't worry the developers - the single-use fee for making use of the remote lounge will be around $1,500 to $1,800.

Not good enough

Needless to say, LAX already has VIP lounges of various gradations. Just recently, in June of this year, Delta Airlines and LAX unveiled the VIP Delta One lounge, set in the renovated Terminal 5. The lounge was designed to be paparazzi-proof, hidden behind frosted glass doors at curbside. Once inside, clients can check in, drop their bags, get a drink and hop an elevator up to a private corridor that leads to a premium security line. Once past security, an escort brings the VIP to the airport's new Sky Club, which has shower suites and gourmet food service.

Separately, there's also a VIP Select service, which involves picking people up from the tarmac in a Porsche and bringing them through a special gate to a secret underground location where they're met by a personal driver.

Red carpet

A red carpet is for when celebs want attention. A VIP lounge is for when they want privacy

A problem with the VIP Delta One lounge may be that anyone willing to pay the fee can get in. Will that also apply to LAX's new Remote Lounge? If so, there remains a risk that celebrity Olympians, the wonderfully rich and marvellously famous, might still have to put up with feverish glances from merely-rich rubberneckers willing to overpay for lounge access so they can breathe air freshly expelled from celebrity lungs.

Will the real sahibs be carried in a palanquin to the door of the limo that'll take them to their flight, or be subjected to the indignity of walking? Surely one can match the level of service provided for mid-ranking British colonial officials in Africa or India in 1860. And whatever happened to private jets? What's this about scheduled commercial flights? Are the intended clients of GdB's new lounge the sort of folk that don't even own their own aeroplanes?

Tsk, tsk. Try as we might, despite all our fabulous technology, regardless of an abundance of exuberantly flamboyant ultra-high net-worth individuals, somehow our civilization can't quite seem to match the high style of the British Empire in its heyday.

nz / uhe (AFP, L.A. Airport Commission, L.A. Times)