Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Getting There - $$$$

It's amazing how one thing can trigger another.  Yesterday I read an article about the new Japanese super train.  It's called the Train Suite Shiki-Hokkaido and takes four days of unbearable passenger  luxury from Tokyo to Hokkaido with various stops.  It is only 10 cars long and the one-way ticket price is $10,000 per person.  There were 33 passengers on the first trip and this train is now sold out until March, 2018.

Yes, well.  The passenger spaces are all suites.  None of this "sit up all night" nonsense.  Each suite is lavishly appointed with glass skylights so that a passenger could stretch out on the bed and watch the clouds roll by after a soak in the suite's hot tub and following massage.   

This is rather dear as train tickets go.  But on the other hand, I once mapped out a trip on the Orient-Express from London to Venice to Paris with an overnighter in Venice which came to $11,000 for both of us.  Economically  much more feasible.  Two of us for one thing.  The long reputation of the Simplon Orient-Express for intrigue, romance, murder - Agatha Christie had a positively wonderful time killing passengers off in "Murder on the Orient-Express" - is very much a draw along with the stylish notes of the '20s and '30s - little lamps on dining tables with beaded fringe threatening your caviar ... incredible service - think it and it is on it's way to you via a beaming steward.  

Train too slow for you jet setters?  Comes now a new service at LAX to ease you onto the plane like a swaddled newborn.  It's called Private Suite LAX and costs $7,500 to become a member and another $$2,700 to bring up to four people with you.  You and your guests are entitled to an eight person crew just for you!  First comes the gate attendant at this secure facility.  He opens the gate and waves you on (assuming you're not wearing a suicide vest,) to another "host" who takes you to your suite where two more personnel are waiting your command - need or want a spa treatment, hair fluff-up, spilled something on yourself?  They will ask your size and roll out a rack of clothing, running shoes, a raincoat if the forecast at your destination has changed and so forth.  At no charge.

At flight time private TSA agents pass you on to the driver of a BMW Series 7 vehicle to drive you across the field to the jet bridge stairs and the door to the plane where the last person loads your bags for you.  Or possibly they double up and the driver brings the bags. 

With sadness in your heart,  you slide into your seat in First with the rest.

What are you mourning?  Your suite might have been a family room with pre-selected, custom toys for any tots traveling with you  or the dog suite with a patio potty.  Given the noise of any airport, I don't doubt the dog will quickly use it.   There is a suite for "mid-East travelers" ("Muslims" to many of us) which is equipped with prayer rugs and all of the booze has been removed. 

It's not over yet.  On arrival you are met and can go straight to the hairdressers or your clothing change is brought to you which is said to be useful for diplomats, people who go straight from plane to event and others who want to get their money's worth. 

Private Suites LAX is a very posh upgrade from similar services such as American's Concierge Key or the Windsor Suite at Heathrow.  Your limo is met curbside by an airline employee who will then whisk you to a door to private TSA for screening and then to this lounge where you can work, nap, shower, eat and drink gratis.  There are phone chargers, a person who has direct contact with your flight.  At the proper time you are escorted to the plane door. 

This no-see'um policy extends on to the plane itself.  Flying to JFK the last time, we got First on a new aircraft and we both hated the seats which were turned to face out of the window, sitter unseen by the Aisle People.   I mentioned this to an FA who said with a shrug, "Our celebrity passengers love it." 

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