Benefits for high-fliers
Airports worldwide are introducing special enticements to stay competitive and London's Heathrow has rolled out an elite 'Heathrow by Invitation' VIP service.
Once a private benefit used for years by royalty, heads of state and dignitaries, the service can now be reserved by privacy-seeking groups such as celebrities and corporate travellers.
The price is GBP1,500 (HK$18,040) plus 20 per cent tax per single journey (arriving, departing or connecting flight) for up to six people (passengers and non-passengers).
The service includes use of a private lounge for up to six people, light refreshments, private security area for passenger screening, limousine transfer direct to or from the aircraft, check-in and baggage taken care of on departure, and passports and baggage dealt with on arrival.
VIPs can also use the lounge for a private meeting for up to three hours.
According to an airport spokesman, the lounges were previously operated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. When the government decided to no longer occupy them on a permanent basis Heathrow stepped in to set up a commercial undertaking.
In Hong Kong, VIP meet and greet is offered by Worldwide Flight Services (WFS), which has been providing services for more than 30 years at more than 120 airports worldwide.
'Demand is growing as the market is getting more familiar with this service,' says Emily Law, manager, executive office and marketing of WFS.
'The service is also common on the mainland, and demand is growing with the increase of outbound travellers from the country.'
WFS has also provided VIP meet and greet services in Singapore since 2006 via its subsidiary JetQuay.
Law says VIP service options vary according to local facilities.
In Singapore, the company manages the CIP (commercially important person) terminal, with separate highway access, parking, check-in, immigration and customs and ramp access, so it is able to offer customised services such as private limousine transfer on the tarmac to the plane.
'Our clients include major corporations and travel-related service providers, such as travel agents, hotels, and MICE [meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions] organisers,' Law says.
She adds that it is becoming increasingly common for airports to offer VIP immigration channels, similar to the way airlines offer several classes of seating.