United Airlines Introduces Partnership With Private Terminal at LAX Airport
And a Polaris business class lounge will open this fall.
United Airlines is upping its VIP game at Los Angeles International Airport.
The airline is offering exclusive access to The Private Suite at LAX, a newly built terminal with personalized check-in, bag drop-off and private TSA screening. The terminal, which has an entrance away from the congested airport traffic loop, offers individual suites with snacks, flat screens and a full bar while you wait.
United promises guests will only need to walk 70 feet from car to plane — by chauffeuring them across the runway area in BMW 7-Series sedans. An eight-person team will also be assigned to each client, to help keep paparazzi at bay. The usual rate for the services is $4,500, though there is no membership fee for United customers, who book through travel agents or a corporate travel booking desk.
The suite is now open for select business-class trips to New York/Newark; Aspen, Colorado; Hawaii; London Heathrow; Los Cabos, Mexico; Melbourne and Sydney, Australia; Shanghai; Singapore and Tokyo Narita.
A second feature, the Polaris lounge at LAX, will open this fall. Polaris — United’s premium cabin on intercontinental flights — is rolling out in planes through 2020, with upgraded seats including a bed outfitted by Saks Fifth Avenue, a personal cubby space and customized wine-tasting menu. The ground-level lounges that accompany the experience are already opening around the country from Chicago O’Hare to SFO.
"We know that privacy is key for many Los Angeles travelers. With The Private Suite experience, United customers get the ultimate in privacy and comfort, and a one-of-a-kind travel experience where they avoid traffic and lines," United spokeswoman Maggie Schmerin tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Our partnership with The Private Suite along with the United Polaris lounge that will open at LAX this fall represent our continued investment in Los Angeles."
Other luxury offerings at LAX include American Airlines' Flagship First Check In, which offers an exclusive check-in area and curbsite entrance at Terminal 4. In 2015, Delta Air Lines gave Terminal 5 a $229 million overhaul with paparazzi-proof underground exits and premium security. The airline also offers a VIP Delta One lounge.
United's luxe new programs come after a rocky year for the airline's public image. In 2017, a video surfaced of a flight attendant forcibly dragging a passenger off a flight, which was roundly criticized. The Tribeca Film Festival ended up pulling an ad for Polaris last year after audiences reacted with laughter. United also experienced backlash (including from Patricia Arquette, Chrissy Teigen and Sarah Silverman) for not allowing teen girls in leggings to board a flight until they changed clothing.
This culminated in CFO Andrew Levy's sudden departure from the company on May 17.
"We recognize that we have more work to do to be a truly customer-centric airline," Schmerin tells THR. "Over the last year, we’ve simplified many of our policies and procedures, and equipped our employees with the tools and support they need to provide our customers with the best possible travel experience."