I was watching Oprah Winfrey interview Matt Damon and I heard them giggling about all the ways they avoid the hassles of travel. Oh, those bougie A-listers and their celebrity travel.
Matt and Oprah spoke of mythical services where all they had to do was arrive and walk onto the airplane. No stopping in lines, no security, no carrying their bags, and no hanging out in airport lounge chairs designed by Attila the Hun.
I went to Oprah.com and poked around. I emailed her, and I researched airport concierges. While I never did identify the exact service referred to by Matt and Oprah, I did encounter a number of services certain to ease your travel woes and allow you to embrace your inner celebrity when you travel.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Before you leave on your trip program your airline’s toll-free reservation number into your cell phone. If your flight is delayed or canceled call your airline call center directly to rebook your flight instead of standing in line. The reservation agent at the airline call center is the one with the most current information. The gate agents get their information from the call centers too so cut out the middle man and possibly catch that next flight leaving in ten minutes.
Less Is More.
Try, try, try to fit all your belongings in your carry on luggage. Even as I write this I realize how impossible this is for 99% of the people out there (myself included). If you must bring along baggage, check it at the curb or send your luggage ahead of you through a luggage delivery service. Many of these services will ship golf clubs, skis, snowboards, surfboards, bicycles, and strollers all for your convenience allowing you to stroll on and off the plane in no time at all. I have not used any of these services myself . . . yet, so please let me know your experience with them if you have used them. www.luggageforward.com , www.luggageconcierge.com, www.luggagefree.com, www.theluggageclub.com.
Rock Star Parking.
To ensure that you have a parking spot in the airport lot many private lots will allow you to reserve a specific spot in advance. This not only saves you time as you depart, but you can ensure a spot close to the exit if you’re itching to get out of the lot in a hurry upon your return. Many private lots are also less expensive than the airport run lots and some airports now offer valet service. Check your individual airport for its specific parking services. And the bonus . . . no more getting yelled at by the angry traffic cop in the loading and unloading zone.
I Wouldn’t Join Any Club That Would Have Me.
Many airports now offer registered traveler programs. Registration with these clubs allows travelers to breeze through security checkpoints because they and their luggage have been pre-screened and met all security standards. To date, San Jose, Orlando, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and New York’s JFK airports offer the service. My brother uses www.clearme.com and swears by it.
Concierge and Ambassador Programs
Many airports also offer airport concierge services or ambassador programs. These volunteers are at the airport simply to help you out with any problems that you may encounter. Not all airports have them but if you are flying out of Los Angeles, Orange County, Ontario, San Diego, Boston’s Logan, Dallas, or Chicago O’Hare to be sure to ask for an Ambassador if you are encountering a problem at the airport. They are sure to help get you back on track. These are just a few of the airports that offer this service so be sure to check both your airports before leaving on your trip.
And, if you are staying in Los Angeles, one can also take advantage of the Suite to Suite program offered by the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows. The package will make you feel like a celebrity at both the hotel AND the airport. Prices vary, but, on average are in the $2,000 range. The Suite to Suite package includes: your stay at the hotel; airport transfers for 4 people; $60 breakfast allowance; access to the famed hotel beach bungalows for 4; and use of BMW beach cruiser bicycles. When you are ready to head to the airport, that is where the real luxury kicks in as the package includes access to all the goodies that The Private Suite at LAX offers.
The Best For Last . . . Private Terminals!
And, of course, because Los Angeles is the land of celebrities and excess, they have one of the best airport concierge services around. Actually, it is more than a concierge service, it is a private terminal. Yeah. A private terminal just for people who can afford not to deal with the hassle of travel.
The Private Suite is a private terminal and gate at LAX. Membership fees are not for the faint of heart, but how else do you keep the riff-raff and paparazzi out?
And membership, indeed, has its benefits. Private Suite members do not have to deal with waiting in any lines because private TSA screening is done at the building by an assigned staff member.
Moreover, each member gets a private suite to wait in before their flight. Because each suite is private, you only wait with the people that you are traveling with. No crying babies, or people taking their shoes off – unless they are part of your entourage. The suites have a team of eight staff people at your beck and call. Upon arrival at the airport, a team member helps the travelers into the compound, escorts them to their assigned suite, and, addresses any special needs, food allergies, etc. that any member of the group may have. While travelers wait, a team member makes sure that your bags are screened, passed through TSA and loaded onto the plane.
Each suite is equipped with its own bathroom, pantry, daybeds, manicurist, on-call doctor, gourmet food, and masseuse.
When it’s time to board, Private Suite members are driven from the private terminal to the aircraft in a BMW Series 7 and delivered directly to their aircraft where a team member waits at the aircraft steps to assist travelers on to the aircraft.
Fees vary depending on whether your route is domestic or international. The annual membership fee is $4,500 and covers the primary member as well as their immediate family. Corporate memberships are also available.
Admit it. It sounds a bit like heaven doesn’t it?
Even if The Private Suite is out of your price range, I hope that some of these tips may make your travel a wee bit more enjoyable. And if you partake in the celebrity bougie bits, please say hello to Matt and Oprah for me when you see them.