Opinion: Fly the Snobby Skies

Posted December 16, 2015 by The Argonaut in Columns

LAX wants to build a private luxury terminal for the rich and famous

By Tony Peyser

Hundreds of holiday travelers were stranded at LAX during an airline computer failure in 2011

Hundreds of holiday travelers were stranded at LAX during an airline computer failure in 2011

If you find yourself caught up in the holiday air travel rush at LAX next week, try not to think of this — unless you’re made of money or trying to give Harvey Levin the shake.

Los Angeles World Airports, the agency that runs LAX, recently unveiled plans to build an elite luxury airport terminal exclusively for the rich and you-know-what.

The 43,750-square-foot Los Angeles Suite, with its own special entrance off Imperial Highway, will allow already absurdly pampered celebrities, sports stars and plain-old ridiculously wealthy folks the chance to be chauffeured directly to their flight without having to be annoyed by the wretched hoi polloi.

A mere $1,500 to $1,800 per trip is the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket to upscale lounges with catered food, luxurious showers and a dedicated security squadron.

Airport leadership asserts a need for such privileged travel to thwart disruptive paparazzi scenes that can interfere with airport security procedures. It’s also being billed as a way to compete with private jets — why charter one if you can fly commercial without the hassle?

But I’m not sold. Let’s back up for a minute.

Most celebs spend hours working out with personal trainers to stay in shape, but apparently the distance from their limo to a first-class seat is just too much to handle — an appalling 2,200 steps. Forget the Bataan Death March. This Suntan Death March has long been a cruel abomination against this oppressed minority. Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Deborah Ale Flint should be given the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing this ghastly injustice to an end.

If LAWA has its way, the Kims and Kanyes of the world will now only have to take a mere 60 steps to board their flights.

Perhaps LAX will think outside the Tiffany box and hire bodybuilders to carry these famous folks the final leg of their airport pilgrimage. The thought of their Louboutins and Salvatore Ferragamos being needlessly scuffed up is a crime against humanity.

At allgov.com, a website I’d never previously heard of, reporter Ken Broder breathlessly observed that this enterprise is good news for flyers at LAX who “are tired of the spectacle of rich and famous people being assaulted by paparazzi and fans in public terminals.” I mean no disrespect (OK, maybe a little), but did it ever occur to you that average folks live for this kind of stuff? Glimpsing the super-famous being put through the same travel inconveniences as us mere mortals levels the cultural playing field.

In the 1980s heyday of Prince protégé Morris Day of Morris Day and the Time, I saw him at Oakland International Airport not being met by anyone and on the phone trying to get a ride to his hotel. He looked exasperated and, forgive me Morris, it was hilarious. Denying people these celebrity sightings is cruel and unusual punishment. I hereby rescind that Nobel Peace Prize.

Though airport officials believe the Los Angeles Suite will attract more celebrities and business executives to fly through LAX, but I hadn’t heard that the 1%ers have had it with the City of Angeles and are moving to other parts of the country. Where to: New York? Too brainy. Chicago? Too Windy. San Francisco? Too hilly. You get the picture.

We can’t forget that L.A. is not just the epicenter of the entertainment business but, more importantly, of shallowness. We don’t just embrace that state of mind: we pretty much invented it. No self-respecting actor or athlete or captain of industry can easily quit the town that enables their addiction to self-absorption.

That’s why I’m not buying the theory that a new luxury terminal will be appealing on price point.

If there isn’t a big shiny expensive toy involved, L.A. A-listers aren’t going to play that game.

And what’s next: Taking a page from San Francisco’s “Google buses” and trying to ease L.A. traffic with luxury shuttles and private bus stations to lure celebs out of their limos?

Does anyone want to live in that world? I. Don’t. Think. So.


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