Well-heeled Australian travellers heading to the United States can now skip just about every queue in Los Angeles and New York – even those infamous traffic jams – with American Airlines’ expanded 'Five Star Service' options.
Breeze through The Private Suite
For departures from LAX, passengers in business and first class have access to The Private Suite, a completely private terminal within the airport, for security screening and customs formalities with a dedicated officer. Once done, they’ll be whisked off to the gate or the Flagship lounge in a Cadillac escort.
The same can be done in reverse, with arriving customers clearing immigration and customs in under five minutes at The Private Suite’s dedicated international arrivals hall, rather than the chaos that is often seen in the Tom Bradley International Terminal.
Note that Five Star customers accessing The Private Suite can use only the dedicated security and customs facilities, not The Private Suite lounge itself.
Domestic arriving passengers can choose to either have their bags delivered to anywhere in the Greater Los Angeles area or to rest in the Flagship First Dining Lounge after the flight, before being driven to The Private Suite to collect luggage and be picked up by their own transport.
Prices for either departures or arrivals start at US$1,200 (A$1,602) for the first two passengers, plus US$250 (A$350) for each additional adult or child.
Blade helicopter transfers
Getting to and from LAX and JFK has also been made simpler thanks to American Airlines’ new partnership with Blade, which run helicopter transfers between airports and city centres.
“The number one pain point of travelling from New York City and Los Angeles to the airports is traffic" explains Rob Wiesenthal, founder and CEO of Blade. "Our Blade airport transfer product turns an hour-and-a-half drive into a helicopter flight that’s five to seven minutes.”
Available at LAX airport and JFK in New York, the tie-up means you’ll be picked up from the helicopter in a Cadillac before being transferred to Flagship First check-in. For arrivals, you’ll be escorted to baggage claim before being driven in the Cadillac to your helicopter.
However, the partnership between the American Airlines and Blade isn't quite seamless yet – you still need to order the helicopter transfer separately through Blade's own app or website.
A one-way private charter between LAX and downtown Los Angeles starts at US$1,525 (A$2,140) for up to six people, but you’ll also have to splash out US$350 (A$490) each way to add the American Airlines Five Star Service for the full experience.
American Airlines Five Star Service and Five Star Select
For business travellers wanting something a little more ‘luxe’ but not excessively so, American Airlines' existing Five Star options might be more appealing.
The base-level Five Star Service starts at US$350 ($490) for the first passenger and includes Flagship First check-in, an escort through the airport, Admirals Club access and Cadillac transfers where a Blade helicopter is chartered.
For US$650 (A$910), Five Star Select offers you those same benefits along with access to the Flagship First Dining lounge in Los Angeles, New York JFK, Miami, Chicago and Dallas Fort Worth when it opens later this year.