Whether it’s for business or pleasure, traveling by air is a daunting task. Between security checks, baggage allowance, customs and immigration – we lose close to four hours before even getting on the plane. Making it to that airplane seat or out the exit gate with the correct baggage is riddled with security hurdles and long lines. The relief of finding a quiet or secluded space to sit before a flight is rare in busy airports, while a hassle-free security check is rarer still. A study conducted by Mind Lab’s neuropsychologist, David Lewis compares the stress of using an airport to driving in Formula One.
Globally, airports generate income from revenue that comes in through services like lounges, retail and parking. Access to airport lounges for first-class passengers or select credit card holders has been an improvement for long layovers but there has been little innovation in the last twenty years to improve the overall ease of the flying experience.
Airports now have separate private entrances to a private terminal, discreet fast-track security checks and luxury lounges. Larger airports have multiple tiers that offer services over and above the usual lounge access like limousine shuttles to and from the aircraft.
The seamless end-to-end transit is being commercialised for clientele that needs to get through the airport quickly or discreetly; cannot navigate long lines or have tight schedules and connecting flights. Albert Herrera, Senior VP at Consortium Virtuoso has seen sales grow four times what it was two years ago thanks to the commercialisation of these concierge services.
What started as an exclusive service reserved for the top 1% is now being embraced by high end clientele that prefers to pay a little extra for a seamless flying experience.
Over the past few years, airports have been tackling this problem by introducing a reimagined transit experience. The new upgrade streamlines the flyer’s journey from the minute they step into the airport right through till they board the plane.
This trend, which was originally a protocol for government officials or other diplomats is now proving to be a lucrative investment for a larger market.
Here are some of the ways you can get the feeling of flying private with commercial prices:
Operating in over 750 airports like JFK, Heathrow, Seoul, Riyadh, Mexico City and Nice, this service offers different tiers of exclusivity. The base package includes a greeter to meet you as you arrive at the airport and assist you with check in and carry all your luggage, a necessary evil for those with unaccompanied minors or large families. A little extra cash will get you fast-tracked through security and immigration while the highest tiers offers a full-scale luxury production. It means a ride to the plane in a limousine and entry into a private suite in the airport terminal that has complimentary amenities such as a top-shelf bar, a full spread of food with caviar, showers, and an office. And, of course, a butler to wait on you. The average cost is between $100-750.
Operating in over 500 international hubs like New York, Beijing, Dubai and Paris, this service started off as a luxury car service. Customers get the standard greeter that escorts you through check in, fast tracked security and customs check. Private lounge access costs extra but you’re free to roam the airport and shop or have a coffee while your greeter waits with your baggage and calls you when it’s time to board. Greeters will also wait outside the aircraft when you land and see you through to the exit. Flyers who have little time to spare can pay for this efficient transit. This time saver will cost between $100-500.
Providing services in over 1000 airports worldwide, GAC is designed for travellers who desire a more exclusive experience. The “Airport by Invitation” package is where the guest can pick from any luxury lounge, enjoy a private terminal and chauffeur driven car to the aircraft. GAC has perhaps the widest network of lounge access, expansive list of services and offers multiple packages to choose from. GAC also offers assistance with VAT returns, a personal shopper and baggage delivery directly to your residence. The service is fully customizable, the assigned concierge can help the guest with anything they may need from surprise gifts and last-minute purchases to various travel services. Arrangements can be made to bring flowers, chocolates, phone chargers, newspapers, sim cards, coffee and more. You can take advantage of services like a buggy to take you through the terminal, a spa treatment, or a table in an exclusive airport restaurant.
Operating in LAX and coming soon to JFK in New York, the private suite is a large full service operation. It has a private terminal adjacent to LAX, the space has eleven private suites, each with a two-person daybed, bathroom, fully staffed kitchen and meals. Additional charges include luxuries like private TSA screening, on-site immigration, and a ride to their aircraft in a BMW. The program launched in 2017 and sees high end clientele that mostly includes A-listers. The cost starts from $3,500 for domestic flights and $4,000 for international flights—covering up to three passengers per reservation. Frequent travelers can sign up for an annual membership that comes with extra perks like multi-course meals, massages, haircuts, a conference room and four passengers per booking.
Leaving on a
Don’t forget your VIP status...
For these newly introduced VIP airport concierges,
the sky is the limit