I’ve flown into LAX many times and utilised several different options to get out of the airport and to my hotel; experiences which have been good, bad and ugly. Today I’m looking at whether a ride with SuperShuttle is worth it, in the view of an international traveller who hasn’t been to California before.
How It Works
SuperShuttle is a incredibly popular shared-van shuttle service which operates in many countries around the world and is known as one of the leading airport shuttle services in the USA. SuperShuttle is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Transdev – a name you may not be familiar with, but that is because they were previously known as Veolia Transportation.
It’s a highly cost-effective service and the product works on grouping riders travelling to a similar destination together.
You can simply make a reservation via their website and you are good to go. The price for a one-way journey travelling from LAX to Anaheim is approximately $17.00, however you might be able to save a few dollars due to seasonal promotions. Best of all, you are only assigned a ride when you “check-in”, so don’t worry if your flight is delayed.
The LAX Arrivals Experience
We all know that Los Angeles International Airport isn’t the best of airports to fly into, but sometimes you just can’t be choosy. After a lengthy wait in the immigration queue due to the clustered arrival of international aircraft, I finally made it out into the arrivals area and needed to make my way to the SuperShuttle check-in podium which is located kerbside.
If you haven’t been to LAX before this is when things start to get confusing. You need to keep an eye out for signs providing directions to the shared-vans pick-up area, which when the area is congested can be hard to spot. There is a useful map on the airport authority’s website which I strongly suggest you taking a screenshot of. It has helped me numerous times. The actual information provided on the reservation confirmation was generic and therefore useless.
As I exited the arrivals hall, I referred to the map (on my phone’s camera roll) and noted that I needed to take a right and walk until I reached the end of the terminal. I kept walking and I eventually spotted several travellers waiting around and a SuperShuttle sign beside the curb.
Checking In and Waiting Around
The check-in process is pretty simple and can be completed on your mobile or by visiting an agent curbside.
If you provided your mobile number when booking, you may actually receive a text message upon arrival which will invite you to take advantage of the mobile check-in service. In this scenario, I didn’t use this as I wanted to avoid enabling data roaming on my phone for as long as possible.
For the traditional process, all I needed to do was provide my confirmation number to the agent who simply typed it into her tablet, who confirmed my destination and advised me of my estimated pick-up time and van number.
After an 11 and a half hour flight from London, a 35-minute wait was not great but it’s better than an hours wait for a scheduled coach service – so I waited with a group of travellers by some planters and took advantage of the free WiFi at the airport. You can actually enter your confirmation number and track your vehicle, which is exactly what I did. Although it was frustrating to see it so close, yet so far away due to the traffic flow around the terminal areas.
Soon enough my van did arrive and I was greeted by the driver who put my luggage in the back and I climbed aboard.
There were already a couple of travellers in my van, and the driver advised there were just two more stops to make before it was time to venture off. It’s worth mentioning that the vans used to loop around the airport complex until full, but I am pleased to say this is no longer the case – they have even spent money advertising this on their vehicles.
I’m pleased to report it was relatively seamless. We did hit some inevitable traffic trying to leave the airport, which always makes me chuckle. Fortunately my driver used the Carpool Lanes which are an absolute godsend in the LA area and we were on our way to Orange County. SuperShuttle’s website indicates that vans will typically make three to four stops per journey, but of course this does vary depending on the destinations and the number of passengers whom may be travelling together.
In my case, the driver dropped off a family in Buena Park (close to Knotts Berry Farm) and then made a stop at another hotel in Anaheim before arriving at my destination. In total, the journey took 45 minutes from the moment I was picked up until I disembarked the van.
Don’t forget that tipping is customary in the USA, so be sure to “say thanks” to your driver. I’d usually suggest a couple of dollars per person. You can actually add a discretionary amount when making your reservation, but I prefer the traditional method.
All in all, my journey with SuperShuttle was relatively stress free and offered excellent value for money for less than $20, compared to a taxi and private vehicle which would have been in excess of $90. Admittedly it might seem slightly confusing for new travellers on where to catch your shuttle, how it works and the waiting around;but at the end of the day it’s a highly cost-effective operation that works well – which is why millions of travellers use it each year.
If you are price conscious and don’t mind the wait, then I would certainly recommend SuperShuttle; however if prefer to travel alone or solely with your travelling party and have the funds, then by all means choose a meet and greet option.