As part of my job, I travel at least once a month. Although certain aspects can be improved (like investing in Global Entry, which has allowed me to keep my shoes on and electronics in my bags at security screenings), air travel is generally an unforgiving slog. I don’t expect much from the experience other than eventually getting to where I’m going. But on a recent trip from Los Angeles to London, I had the chance to experience a very different (and very luxe) way to travel through an airport: the PS private lounge.
PS aims to help people rethink the typical defeatist attitude toward flying. Located in its own corner of Los Angeles International Airport (otherwise known as LAX), the lounge is a private terminal for anyone hoping to escape the drain of modern air travel. PS offers private suites, complimentary food and drinks, concierge services, and its own TSA checkpoint for paying customers. Since its inception in 2017, it’s been a hit with business travelers and A-list celebrities looking for a crowd-free way to fly.
In early 2021, PS further expanded its services by opening up a “Salon,” or communal lounge space for travelers. It’s still a luxurious, privacy-focused experience (it’s housed two miles away from the main LAX terminals), but it now comes at a price point that makes everyday travelers merely gasp rather than outright faint.
The Salon starts at $695 per person (that’s on top of what you’re paying for the flight itself). It gets you access to the sleek communal lounge, complimentary cocktails and snacks, a dedicated TSA checkpoint, and private transportation to your flight. For $3,450, you can upgrade to a private lounge (with room for four), which includes free drinks and chef-prepared meals, among other perks. Add-ons, including checked bags, salon or massage services, cost extra.
You can also opt for an all-access membership for $4,850, which entitles you to a wide range of services, including chauffeured rides from LAX to your home in L.A. (for domestic flights only) and cheaper lounge fees. Joining as a Salon member ($1,250) gives you discounted access to the PS Salon.
I should pause this recap to point out the obvious: Because of its price tag, PS isn’t readily accessible to the majority of travelers. But if you’re willing to drop major cash for a truly luxurious airport experience, this is the way to do it.
Even with the high pricing, PS has its merits. While waiting for my first international flight in two years, I started to see how the company’s services could feel like a worthwhile splurge—at least for those with the means to do so. Designed by Cliff Fong, the earth-toned Salon is undeniably relaxing; being offered a glass of champagne within moments of arriving also helped me chill out. In the communal lounge, you can sprawl on plush couches rather than those uncomfortable chairs at terminal gates. And for those who crave complete solitude, you can always book a private suite.
In another airport first, I didn’t have to enter a Squid Game-style competition with other passengers just to snag a power outlet. Despite being a nominally communal experience, the PS Salon is built for discretion and privacy—great if you’re having a personal conversation, but not so helpful if you’re trying to eavesdrop to figure out just who else is paying for this experience. (Obviously, when it comes to their guests, PS won’t name names. But if you spend some time surfing Instagram you can identify a few of their more notable clients.)
Another highlight: eating food that tasted like it was cooked that day, rather than microwaved at 30,000 feet or in the back of a Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m a vegetarian, so I opted for the hummus platter (and later a cookie and a matcha latte, because why not), but the menu has all kinds of treats—even caviar.
As pleasant as it was to read and relax for a few uninterrupted hours before my flight, the real VIP experience came when it was time to board the plane to London. About an hour before takeoff, a representative retrieved me and we walked from the PS Salon to an adjacent building. There, I was handed my already stamped passport, and a single TSA agent waited patiently while I loaded my carry-on onto the scanner. In all, the security process took less than five minutes, rather than costing me half an hour and most of my sanity like it usually does.
On the other side of security, a suited driver met me and drove me onto the tarmac, passing rows of parked planes. It was a swanky and novel experience; I regretted not booking a flight during daylight hours to fully appreciate the unique view of the busy airport. He parked right next to my airplane and escorted me from the car up an elevator to the terminal to join the rest of the passengers lining up at the gate. Then I was off to London.
All in all, it was a far cry from the typically hectic and uncomfortable experience of navigating an airport.
Chances are you already have your own airport rituals to make flying a little less painful. But if you’ve got the means to take the road less traveled on your way out of town, I highly recommend the view from PS.
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