American Airlines was launching a new service called "The Five Star Experience" in conjunction with P/S, formerly known as The Private Suite in Los Angeles and Blade, in NYC.
The P/S experience is kind of amazing in and of itself. If you haven’t heard about it, this is how it works:
If you’re flying out of LAX, P/S has an entrance on Imperial Highway so you never have to enter the congested horseshoe that is the only way in and out of the airport. Valets park your car and lead you into a private check-in where the staff check your bags. Then you can relax in a private, fully-stocked suite with luxury amenities until your flight is called. When it’s time to go, you’re checked through a private TSA screening at their facility and then lead out to a chauffeured BMW that drives you airside across LAX. The drive is awesome because you are cruising along runways checking out all the planes. Finally, you pull up to your gate where you can either go up to the AA Flagship lounge or up the stairs right up into the plane avoiding the gate area altogether.
When you land at JFK after your transcontinental flight, you exit the jet bridge down the stairs and they drive you in an Escalade across the airfield to a waiting Blade Helicopter. Six minutes later you are at either the west side or east side Blade terminal in Manhattan.
Such an impressive luxury product was deserving of a complex production; and we delivered, filming on-location in Los Angeles, Dallas and New York.
Pre-production happened over a period of months, not days since we were dealing with the LAX, JFK and DFW authorities and trying to take a camera car on an active taxiway at LAX. Coordinating with all those agencies was a learning experience, but once everything was approved, their teams were extremely helpful and working with them was a pleasure.
The first day of our production took place locally at DFW where we captured footage of the airport club, since it was the newest one hadn’t opened yet. We also captured the inflight footage of our hero talent Evie, in Dallas on a stage. The airplane in the final spot is all CGI as we could not get a plane that had the required three-class transcontinental setup we needed for the shoot.
Next stop was LAX where we spent a couple days capturing the footage of the Private Suites in between celebrities and the route over to Terminal 4.
Next, we flew to JFK where we filmed planes out on the runway and around the Blade terminal. Filming the talent getting in and out of helicopters and flying back and forth to NYC took another day. We also captured the landings at the westside Blade terminal in Manhattan which is right by Hudson Yards.
Due to poor weather in NYC, Stewart decided to stay in NYC and film the air to air helicopter footage when the weather cleared, giving him a opportunity to spend a few days at the newly opened TWA Hotel at JFK.
On the first sunny day, the helicopter picked up Stewart and we went flying around the island filming another helicopter capturing exciting footage including a birds-eye view from above the other helicopter hovering low over Times Square.
After many rounds of edits, the final result was a great success and loved by the client. The video assets we produced were deployed over social channels and our stills were turned into print assets and other mediums. After this experience, it’ll never be quite the same flying Main Cabin again.