There is nothing worse than stepping off the aircraft from a long-haul flight, slowly meandering through the queue at immigration and waiting for your bag to arrive on the carousel only to realise you have now missed your transfer. Or it is 40-minutes away. 🙁
I don't know about you, but I have been in this situation too many times to remember, and I've quite simply had enough.
On a trip to Los Angeles, I thought I'd go with a friends suggestion and try out Blacklane.
In short, the company provides pre-booked transfers with professional drivers in more than fifty countries around the world, all for a fixed price. Yes, that's right. All for a pre-negotiated amount. Details of the amount I paid compared to an "Uber Black" are featured later within this post.
Before I dared to book, I thought I would take a look at their website to see exactly how the process worked:
Blacklane offers a pre-booked premium-car service which is suitable for A-B transfers and hourly charters.
Featuring three different car classes, there is something which is sure to meet the needs and budget of most travellers. In price-ascending order, these include:
Business Class (Mercedes E Class, BMW 5 Series, Lincoln Town Car or similar)
Business Van/SUV (Mercedes Viano, VW Multivan, Cadillac Estate or similar)
First Class (Mercedes S Class, BMW 7 Series, VW Phaeton or similar)
There is no "surge-pricing", a technique used by certain "ride-hailing" companies, nor will you be expected to leave a big tip at the end. The price displayed on your screen prior booking is inclusive of all taxes, fees, tolls and gratuities and is only what you'll pay.
If you're arriving into an airport like I was, impressed to learn that the staff at Blacklane will track your flight and adjust the pick-up time if necessary. 15 minutes waiting time is included for standard pick-ups, and this goes up to 1 hour for those from an airport. The waiting time only starts from the time which you booked your ride. I was also pleased to see that Blacklane's customer service line is open 24/7.
Booking a journey
You are able to search for and book your journey using their website or mobile/tablet application.
Enter in the pick-up and drop-off information, or the number of hours you require the car and driver for.
Input your desired pick-up time.
Select the car class which suits your needs.
I was then able to view the cost of the journey, add any special requests and add my payment details to the reservation before submitting my request.
Once booked, I received a e-mail notifying me that my request was being processed, and another when they had found a driver.
If you are running into any difficulty, it's good to know the customer service team are on-hand 24 hours a day to assist.
On The Day
On the day of the transfer, you'll usually receive a couple of e-mail and SMS updates informing you that your car was on it's way, and then the driver has arrived. Because I was on an aircraft which did not feature Wi-Fi, I only received these messages when I switched my phone off Airplane Mode upon touchdown at LAX.
After making my way through the immigration hall, collecting my bags and proceeding through the customs declaration checkpoint at the Tom Bradley International Terminal; I messaged my driver to see where he was and within a couple of minutes he pulled right up by the kerb outside and I was on my way.
I was travelling in a very luxurious Audi. Featuring leather seating and blacked-out windows, I felt like someone rather important.
My driver was extremely friendly and we had a good old conversation for the 40-odd minute journey to Anaheim.
Upon arrival the hotel, all I needed to do was thank my driver and that was it. Gratuity is already included within the fare, but I did leave him a few extra Dollars as he was extremely helpful.
I utilised the service between Los Angeles International (LAX) Airport and the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim; which is located approximately 35 miles south of Los Angeles with an average journey time of one hour. The price for my Blacklane transfer was around $125 including gratuity. According to the Uber app, a one-way fare in an UberBlack (similar to a Blacklane vehicle) would be anything between $140-$180. Therefore I found the Blacklane transfer to offer excellent value for money. The bonus of knowing my transfer was scheduled way in advance and they would track my flight status also offered additional peace of mind.
*Fare was correct as of Summer 2016.
Overall, I was very impressed with my Blacklane experience. It really opened my eyes as to how much easier a private airport-transfer can be as opposed to a shared-ride service. It may cost more, but in my mind it is worth it.
Thank you to Blacklane for a wonderful experience.