Is this the most luxurious airport terminal in the world?
Tehran (KNA) - Most of us are not VIPs. For the majority, several hours of boredom and misery stand between us and our dream vacation, navigating the drive to the airport, then inside the terminal there's the kiosks, the baggage areas, TSA, Cinnabon and a bottle of water that costs enough to affect your FICO score.
But if you're a VIP, and you have the wherewithal, at Los Angeles International Airport there's another option.
If you're a member of the elite, rather than join the crowds on the 405 heading to the main entrance, you take the appropriately named Imperial Highway along the southern border of LAX. Passing by a series of nondescript airport buildings, you'll see a sign with a discreet logo of a door and some swishy lines.
Having made your reservation earlier, the guard at the security booth will check your ID and then open two 10-foot steel doors that are painted battleship gray and move with all the portent of the gates to a secret lair.
Because that's what this is. The Private Suite at LAX is a separate, reservation-only passenger terminal for all commercial flights at the airport.
For a price, you can step into an alternate reality, one with your own room to relax in while waiting for your flight, private security screening, and a chauffeur-driven ride across the tarmac to your waiting plane.
The Private Suite opened in May 2017, the brainchild of Gavin de Becker, a private investigator/security consultant to the stars.
What used to be a cargo facility has been transformed into 11 private rooms, each around 250 square feet. The rooms are arranged alongside the parking lot, like a motel.
That means there are no common areas for you to, you know, run into anyone. Discretion is the name of the game here.
The rooms are tastefully appointed in the muted shades of a luxury aesthetic that is more correct than daring. Comfortable easy chairs and couches furnish the room, as does a large television, an en suite powder room and wet bar.
From the window at the far end of the room, you can see various international jets lined up at their gates, their tail plumage battling for supremacy.
While you wait, you can eat, drink and groom yourself to your heart's content, thanks to the well-stocked shelves, refrigerator and bathroom.
Bottles of not-crappy wine (Stag's Leap Cabernet, Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir, splits of Pommery champagne) and spirits are accompanied by artisanal chocolates that are several steps above a Whitman's Sampler, good fresh fruit (we're talking organic Honeycrisp apples, people, not that Red Delicious dreck) as well as boxes of cereals and wall-mounted dispensers of candy and pretzels.
In the bathroom, you'll find Kiehl's toiletries, as well as just about anything you might have forgotten to pack: shave cream, Tide pens, Advil, deodorant, Immodium and a lint roller. The living room also has sundries for the last-minute traveler (international chargers, power cables, neck pillows).