Awards season doesn’t have to mean travel headaches for industryites jetting around L.A., New York City, San Francisco, London and various spots in-between.
Helicopter rides, chartered jets and private terminal services are just a few of the options for those who want to avoid as much hassle as possible and have the financial resources to pay for them. There are also plenty of less costly ways to avoid the new LAX-it area for taxi and ride app pickups, which has made using those services even more chaotic and time-consuming for Angelenos.
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“We have our own private terminal building one highway exit south, so the experience of ‘going’ to the airport is completely eliminated,” says chief commercial officer Amina Belouizdad.
Upon arrival, commercial airline flyers are whisked to hotel-like private suites, where they can watch a movie, order food or prep with pre-awards beauty treatments. After a private TSA check, they’re chauffeured via BMW and escorted onto the plane — or the reverse.
The service, launched by Gavin de Becker & Associates in 2017, is similar to services at international airports. In London, for example, Heathrow VIP (heathrowvip.com, £2,750 ($3,591) and up) offers suites with curated art, VAT refunds and personal shoppers. Travelers are also afforded private security checks and immigration lanes.
“The concept actually exists in almost every major international city outside the U.S., so that’s how we knew there was a need here,” Belouizdad says.
This month, the Private Suite will introduce airfield drive off. Rather than heading to a suite after disembarking, guests can be driven across the airfield and directly home. “We’ll be the first in the world to do this.”
Thanks to LAX-it, it’s no longer a simple matter to grab a taxi or pick up a ride on standard Uber or Lyft services at the airport. But there are still getaway options that don’t involve a shuttle ride. Curbside pickups remain possible with Uber Black or Uber Black SUV (uber.com) — offering pricier rides on higher-end vehicles, including Mercedes or BMWs.
“For UberX, you have to essentially get in a little shuttle and go over to a parking lot to get the more economy options,” says Laura Jones, Uber’s global head of product marketing. “Not just in L.A., but San Francisco also.”
Chauffeur companies are also still able to go into terminals to pick up passengers.
“You don’t need to take the shuttle, and this will save you something like 45 minutes,” points out Sascha Meskendahl, chief revenue officer of Blacklane (blacklane.com).
Founded in 2011 to modernize the global chauffeur industry, Blacklane offers riders in 60 U.S. cities and 300 cities worldwide three classes of Mercedes, and Teslas, via app. Because “it can be a real hassle queuing up for security,” its new airport concierge service escorts travelers directly to gates — skipping lines sans loyalty programs or government pre-approvals.
Hotels also facilitate pickups. “LAX can be one of the busiest arrival experiences, and we’ve tried to integrate a level of calm so the Four Seasons experience starts the moment the plane gets to the gate,” says Michael Newcombe, GM of Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills (fourseasons.com).
Buyers of the Doheny Suite Experience ($2,250 and up) — luxe suites featuring Jeff Leatham floral arrangements, personalized stationary and a Range Rover — are met planeside and escorted to a limo. A house car for local trips is available to all guests.
“It’s designed to be competitive with ground transportation,” says Will Heyburn, corporate development head of the brand, which also flies to such destinations as the Super Bowl, Coachella and Sundance. Under its partnership with American Airlines, flyers into JFK or LAX will be chauffeured to Blade by Cadillac.
“A lot of the Netflix producers and directors are in New York — all the people from ‘The Irishman’ and others will be flying on our helicopters with meet-and-greet service from American,” says CEO Rob Wiesenthal. “Many fly from LAX to Santa Monica, because the day before the Oscars you have the Spirit Awards. That’s a very busy time of year for us.”
With Vista Global’s XO powered by JetSmarter (flyxo.com), jetsetters can charter a private jet, share a charter or purchase a seat, from more than 3,000 aircrafts. “We’re the first global digital marketplace where you can book whatever trip fits your mission,” says chief commercial officer Ronald Silverman.
An Oscar-themed flight will run from New York to L.A. Feb. 7 and return Feb. 10 ($3,000-$4,500/flight).
“Each seat will have an iPad loaded with favorite Academy Award-nominated films, such as ‘Taxi Driver,’ and they’ll have specialty-themed cocktails, like ‘the Red Carpet.’” XO will also sponsor Oscar events members can attend.
Customer service is a priority for private jet charter company JetSuite (Jetsuite.com), which offers onboard amenities such as gourmet snacks, skincare products and roses. Industry folks flying around California, including Napa, can have a “public charter” experience with sister company JSX (jsx.com, $89 and up).
“It’s flying into a private jet terminal, so cuts down on time,” says JetSuite president Stephanie Chung. This awards season, the JetSuite Experiences partnership with luxury travel agency Embark will give members access to coveted hotels, restaurants, ceremonies and after-parties. “Now, we’re a one-stop shop.”
More than 500 celebrities, including musicians and athletes, call former Dream Hotel Group VP Rob DelliBovi (rdbvip.com) for their travel and concierge needs — whether they want a table at Catch or to plan an 80-city music tour.
“Hotels are really where I show value — I’ll get it cheaper, with an upgrade,” says DelliBovi, who’s paid directly by vendors.
His word-of-mouth business now offers a car concierge service: “We can arrange any vehicle in the world, down to color of interior and exterior, arranged as a rental or a chauffeured vehicle.”
In the Know Experiences (intheknowexperiences.com, $500 and up) says a key part of the booking process is averting disaster.
“If there’s weather coming in, we’re going to back you up on other flights,” says co-founder Seth Kaplan. “We’ve had wardrobe go missing — at most major airports, we have internal people who can trace it.” Safety is a paramount concern. “A lot of our drivers are trained security guards who know how to move people out of situations. They’re medically trained and will know your history, should we have an EpiPen in the car? All of these little things people don’t even think of, we’re three steps ahead in doing them.”
And the extra legroom and ability to set temperature preferences make new Uber Comfort (“economy-plus”) perfect for party-hopping in formal wear. Manhattanites traveling to or from JFK can bypass weekday rush-hour traffic altogether with Uber Copter ($200 and up). The service includes rides to and from heliports and an eight-minute flight.
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