My airport transfer booking process is based on the fact that sometimes you go through all that trouble to save some money booking a flight or booking a hotel, only to waste the money on airport transfer. I think it’s worth planning ahead so let’s check some of the available options.
You Get What You Pay For
The cheapest way to get from the airport into a city is normally by public transport. In big developed cities, you might have a subway or a train available. In less developed cities, the cheapest options will normally be the bus.
Shared hotel buses are affordable options that take you into a city to a central location. From there you find your own way to your hotel. Sometimes these shared buses stop at the major hotels.
Some cities offer hostel shuttles that pick up people from different hostels in the city center. Both options normally require a pre-booking.
More expensive but more comfortable solutions are door-to-door transports, being hotel transfers, private transfers or a taxi.
Most hotels offer a transport service that comes with a price. Normally it isn’t cheap. You can also hire a private transport service online or at the arrival hall at most airports but they’re not cheap. Websites like City Discovery offer a variety of transport services from private to shared. The advantage of these pre-booked and pre-paid services is that you don’t waste any time at arrival, meaning there will be a driver waiting for you.
Of all the door-to-door options, I find taxis to be the cheapest, as long as the driver knows where your hotel is. The problem with taxis at the airport arrival hall is reliability. They’re normally looking to make an extra buck at your expense because as a tourist, you probably don’t know the city.
At some airports like Kolkata or Delhi in India, you can hire a pre-paid taxi, controlled by the traffic police. The idea is to create trustful service with no over paying. You go to the police booth located at the arrival hall, tell them where you want to go and pay. You get a receipt that you show the driver. Police control the taxi when exiting the parking lot. Sounds great, but if the taxi driver doesn’t know where the hotel is, the process can be pointless.
My Airport Transfer Booking Process
I make my Airport Transfer choice on a case-by-case basis:
- Arrival on my first day of travel: I choose a safer transport like hotel transfer or taxi;
- If I arrive with plenty of daylight in a safe city and I’m not in a hurry, the bus is my first choice but a Taxi is also an option;
- Arrival at night in a complicated city: I arrange for a hotel transfer;
- Departure: with more local experience, I risk more complicated but cheaper transportation like a local bus;
- When I go by taxi, I print a map with the hotel location to show the driver. You really need to know where you’re going;
- I consider the hotel transport if the hotel promotes any kind of transport that helps the local community;
Airport Transfer Examples
The following examples show you how my airport transfer booking process works:
- Mumbai, India: transport arranged by hotel, helping to empower local women (female driver).
- Kolkata, India: I risked a pre-paid taxi and although I had the map, it was still complicated to find the hotel.
- Quito, Ecuador: hotel transport at arrival for around $20; departure by local bus for $0.50.
- Buenos Aires, Argentina: local bus (make sure you have the exact change!).
- Cape Town, South Africa: hotel transport at arrival.
- Bangkok, Thailand: taxi at arrival; train at departure.
- Nairobi, Kenya: taxi at departure.
- Singapore: taxi at arrival and departure.
- Auckland, New Zealand: local bus at arrival and departure.
- London, England (Heathrow): subway.
- Lisbon, Portugal: subway or airport bus.
- Amsterdam, Holland: train.
- Geneva, Switzerland: train.