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Is it worth paying $695 for PS' quasi-private 'Salon' lounge at LAX?

Oct. 31, 2021
11 min read
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When flying in and out of the City of Angels, or as some would call "the land of fame excess," it's only natural to want to do so like a celebrity. If you're not flying privately (or semiprivately), you can still make a grand entrance or exit through PS at LAX.

For the uninitiated, PS offers one of the most remarkable travel experiences money can buy. It allows deep-pocketed flyers to skip the main airport terminal entirely and make their commercial flying experience feel almost as exclusive as flying private. After indulging in top-shelf drinks and bites, you go through a private security checkpoint and are driven straight to your plane.

The only problem? PS has historically been out of reach for most travelers. However, it recently introduced a new type of experience — dubbed The Salon — that's available at a much more accessible price point.

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Unlike the private suites that PS made its name with, the Salon is a communal lounge. However, it still includes many of the key benefits, including access to the VIP terminal, top-notch food and drinks, a dedicated TSA checkpoint and tarmac transfers.

Having experienced the private suites multiple times now, I was eager to see how the new service compared.

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Price

PS offers three types of experiences: Private Suites, PS Direct and The Salon. The private suites and the Salon are available on departure, arrival or during layovers, while PS Direct is only available on arrival. You can book the services regardless of the airline or class of service you’re flying.

The private suites cost $4,350 per visit ($3,250 for members) and include access for up to four travelers. Each additional traveler is $800.

PS Direct is a service exclusive to members where they can be driven to their final destination directly from their arriving aircraft, bypassing the terminal altogether. It costs $3,450 for up to four travelers.

Meanwhile, the Salon is the least expensive of the bunch, especially if you're traveling solo. Each visit costs a flat $695 per person. You don't need to be a member to book the Salon, but you must be 21 or older for entry and pets are not permitted. Non-members are also subject to additional fees, such as a $50 processing fee if you plan on checking bags and $60 per night for parking.

Amex Centurion cardholders (plus one companion) get a complimentary visit to the Salon each year when reserving an international business or first class ticket through your concierge. Subsequent visits are offered at a discounted rate of $550 per person.

Related: Everything you need to know about LAX’s secret VIP terminal PS

(Screenshot courtesy of reserveps.com)

The lounge

The Salon is located within the same gated, guarded compound as the private suites, albeit in its own building. Although still connected to LAX, this exclusive terminal is located about two miles from the airport's main terminal area. There's no traffic in sight and arriving passengers don't need to deal with the ‘LAX-it’ taxi and ride-hailing lot.

I arrived to a team of staff waiting to spring into action. One opened the door for me, and another whisked my checked bag away, and then I was escorted into the lounge. It felt as though I pulled up to a five-star hotel, rather than an airport.

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

That feeling of a luxury hotel carried on into the lounge. It was as if I entered one of the city’s hottest bars, or better yet, an exclusive social club.

It was open and inviting with no long rows of the same cookie-cutter chairs. Consider it the antithesis of your typical airport lounge.

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

The space was split into two sections, each with its own unique character. The first half had more of a swanky vibe with rich dark hues, curvaceous velvet sofas and leather barstools.

Meanwhile, the other side was just as elegant but had more of a relaxed living room feel, featuring a light wood floor, leather sofas and velvet barstools.

The Salon was designed by Cliff Fong, the same person who helmed the recent makeover of the private suites. It was clear that every element had been carefully thought out, including the gilded mirrors, vintage Goyard items, Assouline books and art curated by Creative Art Partners.

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

The key difference with the private suites was that the Salon was a social space. While you certainly don't have to, guests are encouraged to socialize with one another, as well as with the bartenders — who happened to be incredibly friendly.

There were three other guests in the lounge at the time I was there and the bartender shared that the most amount of guests he's seen at once was around 15. In other words, overcrowding should never become an issue here — not to mention, PS confirms Salon bookings manually to control crowding and prioritize requests from members.

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Food and beverage

Unlike some airport lounges, all food and drink were included at the Salon. There were no hot dishes on the menu, but everything I sampled was restaurant quality — which was expected considering the food program was helmed by the acclaimed H.wood Group, which runs popular L.A. classics like Delilah, The Nice Guy and Bootsy Bellows.

Shortly after arriving, I was greeted with a glass of Pommery Brut Royal Champagne and a mouth-watering caviar spread. It consisted of Italian White Sturgeon Caviar, blinis, crème fraiche and chives, complete with a mother of pearl spoon. I might not have been flying Lufthansa first class, but I sure was getting the first-class treatment.

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Next up I had a delicious sesame soy noodle bowl, followed by a nice cheese plate for dessert (no boring cheese cubes in this lounge!). Other options included a mezze platter, little gem salad and various sandwiches.

What I thought was especially neat was that all food could be packaged to-go. A refreshing change of pace from most airport lounges, which discourage visitors from taking food with them — though Capital One plans to change that with its new lounges.

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Equally impressive was the drink menu, or should I say drink menus. The robust selection included nearly two dozen wines, various draft beers, bottled beer, a selection of craft cocktails (and mocktails), different kinds of cold brew tea and soft drinks. Then, there was an entire coffee menu, which was developed in partnership with Alfred Coffee, one of L.A.'s most iconic coffee shops.

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Amenities

Similar to how the private suites are stocked with a wide range of travel accessories and toiletries, tucked into the corner of the lounge was a "beauty cart" with various necessities available for taking. The selection wasn't quite as robust as in the suites but still offered essentials like toothbrushes, eye masks, sunscreen and mints, as well as some more unique skincare items from brands owned by PS members.

However, unlike in the suites, you couldn't request personal services like manicures, massages or haircuts.

Additional toiletries were available in the bathrooms, one of which also had a shower.

Salon guests also had access to an outdoor garden (with heaters for those brisk L.A. nights), but it was under construction during the time of my visit. Although it might seem insignificant, spending time outdoors before a long flight can make a big difference.

Tarmac transfer

Regardless of whether you're booking a private suite or the Salon, a key selling point of PS is access to its private TSA and immigration checkpoints and tarmac transfers. The only difference here is that suite customers are guaranteed to go through security and be driven to their planes alone, while Salon guests traveling on the same flight will be grouped together.

Luckily, it's fairly uncommon for there to be multiple Salon guests on the same flight so I got to go through security privately.

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Waiting on the other side of security was a BMW 7 Series to transport me to my plane, as well as a refrigerator stocked with an array of drinks. Had I been grouped with other passengers, we would've likely been driven in one of the SUVs or the van.

As with my previous visits, getting in the car was bittersweet. While I was sad to be parting ways with PS, being the AvGeek I am, I was excited for the ride across the tarmac. It's not every day you get to be up close and personal with so many planes — in such a fancy car nevertheless.

And before I knew it, we arrived at gate 42B. The driver unloaded my carry-on and escorted me onto the plane before officially bidding farewell.

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the golden age of travel is not over.

The Salon is an incredible addition to PS, to say the least. It offers the opulence and convenience of the private suites, but at a much more reasonable price point. Sure, $700 is still no small sum, but it's far easier to justify for those splurge-worthy vacations and the experience is like no other. And if you're saving money on your trips by booking with points and miles, hopefully, you'll have some extra cash to spend on upgrades like these.

While no concrete dates have been announced, PS has plans to expand to New York-JFK and Miami International Airport (MIA) within the next two years. All future locations will feature the Salon in addition to the private suites.

Featured image by (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

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  • Annual Fee

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

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  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees