Celebrities Will Evade Fans and Photographers at Los Angeles Airport Lounge


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Kim Kardashian, left, was photographed by paparazzi as she left Los Angeles International Airport in February.

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Quarterflash/Vantage News, via Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Kanye West has had words (and more) with photographers chasing him at Los Angeles International Airport; a friend of the actor Jared Leto tangled with one in August, and the list goes on and on.

Soon celebrities coming through the airport will be able to avoid the paparazzi — and security lines, the long walk to gates and contact with autograph-seekers — now that a plan has been approved to set up a private lounge for the rich and famous.

Under the proposal, approved on Thursday by the Board of Airport Commissioners, a security firm that caters to the 1 percent will turn an old cargo facility into a special lounge for those who can afford it, to open as early as next spring.

For a fee that will most likely run to about $1,800 per trip, a movie star, sports legend, diplomat, business magnate or regular private citizen who craves privacy will be able to enter through a private gate, avoid the infamous airport traffic, and wait far from the crush of people at the central terminal of the airport, which is known as LAX. They will be shuttled from the lounge to their flights and back to the lounge upon return, and receive various other amenities to be determined.

“We’ve had a lot of issues of the years with paparazzi around celebrities making it difficult for other passengers,” said Sean Burton, president of the Board of Airport Commissioners. “We’ve had incidents where paparazzi have knocked people over. We had one incident last year when someone in a wheelchair was knocked down.”

Ordinary passengers will also benefit, Mr. Burton said, because the lounge will help allay the crowding, pileups at security and occasional violence that follow movie stars at the airport.

A private celebrity security firm, Gavin de Becker & Associates, will build and run the lounge, which is expected to bring in $34 million for the airport over 10 years, and help fund a major airport expansion, which includes a project to connect the airport to the region’s rail system.

The lounge in Los Angeles is to be modeled on one at Heathrow Airport in London, which was originally designed for the royal family before opening to the general public for a fee starting at 2,000 pounds, or about $3,000. At Heathrow, those who use the special lounge do not have to wait in line at security or customs; such details are still being figured out for Los Angeles.

Other major airports around the world have also added such amenities in recent years — Dubai, Amsterdam and Paris are among the cities that have them — but Los Angeles International will be the first in the United States. Gavin de Becker has also expressed interest in expanding the celebrity lounge program to Kennedy Airport in New York and airports in Miami and elsewhere.

Mr. Burton said it was fitting that the first lounge of this type would be in Hollywood’s backyard. “With all the celebrities that come in and out of the airport,” he said, “we really do think it will benefit all passengers at LAX.”



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