Airport Transfer Service: Why You Need One and How to Pick the Best

Illustration of airport transfer service concept showing a passenger and a driver in a car with the cityline and plane in the background; image by Ivan Kralj, via Dall-E and Adobe.

Traveling can be an exciting adventure, but it can also be a bit overwhelming, especially when it comes to transportation logistics. Whether you’re a seasoned globe-trotter or heading out on your first big trip, getting to and from the airport can be a major stressor. Luckily, there’s an easy solution, one we often overlook: the airport transfer service.

Airport transfer service ensures you’ll have a red-carpet welcome wherever your adventures whisk you away

Now, I’ll confess… With a frugal state of mind, I once viewed airport transfers as an extravagant splurge, a luxurious detour from the larger quantity of budget-centric adventures. Even if I experienced the comfort of airport transfers in countries such as Cambodia or Indonesia (where hotels may have a custom of picking up their guests and bringing them straight to the location), when self-organizing, I’d always try to find the cheapest ride to the airport – typically a public transport.

Until, well, I learned my lesson. It should’ve been a short domestic flight in the Philippines, leaving Puerto Princesa at 7:45 p.m., and arriving in Manila at 9:15 p.m. Even if I knew that it’s better to pre-arrange an airport transfer when traveling in an unknown country at night (for instance, when I had to land in Ethiopia at 1 past midnight a year before, I knew it wouldn’t be smart to wonder around Addis Ababa at that hour, so I booked a pick-up), I wasn’t counting on the possibility that the flight to Manila would be delayed.

We arrived closer to midnight, at what seemed to be a chaotic airport, with a sea of frazzled passengers and hour-long queues for the taxis, the only way out. I booked Grab (the Asian cousin of Uber) and ended up in a vehicle where I was yelled at, and practically abducted. Only because an alert cop stopped the car before we left the airport, I managed to escape. I tell the details of this story in the collection of my biggest travel WTF moments, but the point is: I wished I had pre-booked an airport transfer service in Manila that night.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the benefits and the essential considerations of choosing and using the airport transfer service. To simplify your travel experience, there’s also a curated list of the world’s top airport transfers, ensuring you’ll have a red-carpet welcome wherever your adventures whisk you away. So sit back and relax (as if you’ve just been picked up by an airport limo), and let’s dive in!

Young woman with suitcases at the zebra crossing in front of the airport building; photo by V. Ivash, Freepik.
What do you do when you roll your suitcases out of the airport building? (Image by v.ivash on Freepik)

What is an airport transfer service?

An airport transfer service is defined as a pre-booked transportation service that facilitates the movement of passengers and their luggage between an airport and their chosen destination (hotel, home, business location, another airport, another town, practically any place connected by road).

Booking an airport transfer service is like renting a car that comes with a bonus – a professional driver behind the wheel.

This specialized mode of transportation is not a one-way street. Whether you need a pick-up in the heart of the city, and a drop-off at the airport, or vice versa, airport transfer service typically means providing convenient door-to-door transportation.

There are two main types of airport transfer services (also known as airport runs).

The shared airport transfer service takes more passengers on board and makes multiple stops along the way. It takes a tad longer, but it is a great option for budget-minded travelers.

On the other hand, the private airport transfer service (that we focus on in this article) is perfect if you want to be taken directly to your destination and have a more personalized experience.

Businesswoman exiting a taxi cab at the airport while a member of staff is holding an umbrella/parasol for her convenience; image by Freepik.
Airport transfer service can bring a next-level customer experience (Image by Freepik)

6 benefits of using airport transfer service

Airport transfer services come with a lot of benefits, which makes them a preferred choice for many travelers. Here are some key reasons why passengers choose to book the airport transfer service!

1. It reduces stress.

Why let the joy of arriving at your final destination be marred by questions like “How often does the airport shuttle come?” or “How much are airport taxis?”! Airport transfer services provide a convenient and hassle-free journey, eliminating the need to drive and search for the parking spot, battle complex public transport puzzles, endure the agony of eternal taxi lines (looking at you, Manila), or worry about the entire transfer logistics. Knowing that airport transportation is pre-arranged and will be waiting upon arrival (even if your flight is late) significantly reduces travel-related stress. You can just relax and enjoy a smooth pre-arranged ride.

2. It reduces the risk of being late.

Even if I had different experiences too (when I overslept my pre-scheduled taxi pick-up in Lithuania five years ago, the driver just left, leaving me in a frantic attempt to reach the airport before my flight’s departure), I’m still certain that pre-booked airport chauffeur service reduces risks of being late in cases when we miss the alarm. Instead of just relying on public transport or good luck to save the day, having someone knocking on our door sooner is much more reassuring. Unlike that Vilnius taxi that ghosted me, reputable airport transfer services are known for their punctuality and reliability. Professional drivers, who are well-versed in navigating optimal local routes in different traffic conditions, are committed to ensuring passengers reach their destination on time (unlike many taxis that could drive you around just to boost their meter).

3. It is tailored to you.

Instead of just relying on the hope that, for instance, larger vehicles will be available at the time we hail them, the pre-booked airport transfer service can cater to our specific needs. Whether you travel with a family or in a group, need a child seat, a bit more space for your wheelchair, or circus-sized luggage, there is a vehicle in the fleet customized for every preference, from sedans to vans.

4. It provides comfort.

Airport transfer services usually provide a higher level of comfort compared to other transportation options. Instead of dragging your suitcase through the underground or being condemned to the noise of a crowded public bus, with airport transfer service, passengers can enjoy a private and relaxed journey, especially if they opt for luxury or premium vehicle options. You can count on a clean and well-maintained car, with a professional and courteous driver.

5. It is safe.

Airport transfer services prioritize passenger security. Most companies vet their licensed drivers, removing the taxi roulette that comes with the first available cab or Uber out of the equation. Plus, the vehicles used by airport transfer service companies undergo regular maintenance check-ups, ensuring a safe and secure journey.

6. It is fare play.

Let’s be real: nowadays, an affordable airport taxi is practically an oxymoron. Transparent and fixed pricing is a significant advantage of airport transport services. Passengers know the cost of their airport transportation upfront, avoiding surprises, worries about having an adequate amount of money in local currency, or even awkward haggling over the fare, which can occur in randomly rented taxi vehicles.

Valet personnel putting a suitcase in a car; image by Freepik.
Have your luggage handled with care (Image by Freepik)

How do I schedule an airport ride?

Scheduling an airport ride can vary depending on the airport transfer service you choose. However, the process is generally straightforward and often involves the following steps:

  • Visit the service’s website or a mobile app (do this well in advance, especially when traveling in peak times).
  • Create an account if necessary (usually providing your name and contact details).
  • Input your trip information, including the flight details, the airport in question, and your departure or destination address.
  • Select the type of vehicle.
  • Review the details of the booking and confirm the reservation.
  • Receive a confirmation email or notification, typically with the vehicle’s details as well as the driver’s contact information.
  • Track your ride (if the service offers this feature which allows you to monitor the location of your assigned vehicle).
  • Get a pick-up at the agreed location (the driver will often arrive a few minutes before the scheduled time), and enjoy the stress-free ride to the airport.

The best airport transfer service providers

Whether you’re in Las Vegas, Singapore, Waikiki, or Cabo, you’ll find many reputable airport transfer service companies, well-regarded for their reliability, professionalism, and customer satisfaction. However, their offer may vary, depending on your exact location and specific preferences, so try to check multiple options before settling for a favorite. Here are the top airport transfer services you should consider!

1. Kiwitaxi

Kiwitaxi is an online booking platform offering individual transfer services in 102 countries, and more than 500 airports. This brand promises fixed prices (no junk fees, hooray!), as well as experienced licensed drivers, and 24/7 customer support. Whether you need a Micro for two, or a 19-seater bus, you can book your transfer in just a few clicks.

This fall, Kiwitaxi’s hotspots are Antalya (Turkey), Phuket (Thailand), Dubai (UAE), Tenerife (Spain), Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt), Rome (Italy), and Paris (France).

Try it out!

2. HolidayTaxis

HolidayTaxis is an award-winning global ground transportation company that operates in over 21,000 destinations across 150 countries. With no hidden fees, the company offers a wide range of airport transfer options, from wheelchair-accessible vehicles to electric cars and even helicopters. You can even book your transfer on your travel day for last-minute travel plans.

Besides the UK, HolidayTaxis is also popular in places like Faro (Portugal), Cancun (Mexico), New York (USA), Dalaman (Turkey), Rhodes (Greece), and the sun-soaked coasts of Spain.

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3. GetTransfer

GetTransfer is a booking service for transfers available in 101 countries, claiming to operate even in those where no other services are established yet. Unlike other companies, this airport transfer service provider doesn’t have fixed pricing. Instead, drivers are offering rides for each client request, promising the best airport transportation rates, or they’ll return the price difference if you find a similar offer elsewhere for less. That could be a great incentive for booking your transfer through them.

None of the GetTransfer cars are older than five years, and they also provide helicopter and airplane transfers. If they have to wait for you for an hour at the airport, they won’t charge you more.

4. Intui.Travel

Intui.Travel is a booking platform that covers 3,500 airports in 175 countries, guaranteeing the best local transport available. From shuttle buses starting at 3 euros to private car transfers available for 5 euros already, the company enables easy online booking for any need.

During the Black Friday promotion (until December 15, 2023), use the promo code BF5 for €5 off the bookings over €70, on this link. 

Intui.Travel’s most popular airport transfers are based in Turkey (Istanbul, Antalya), UAE (Dubai), Indonesia (Bali), Czech Republic (Prague), France (Paris, Marseille), and Portugal (Porto, Lisbon).

Try it out!

5. Omio

Omio is a platform that allows you to book over 1,000 transportation providers, not only airport transfers, but also tickets for trains, buses, planes, and ferries. Whether you’re in Europe, the USA, or Canada, the system lets you compare the transportation options, so you can find the perfect price for your transfer booking.

Among Omio’s most popular destinations are New York City, Miami, Munich, London, Amsterdam, Florence, Stockholm, Geneva, Brussels, and Valencia.

Try it out!

6. 12Go

Even if the company operates in more than 100 countries, 12Go is the booking platform to choose when looking for airport transfers in Asia and Oceania. It is also a good starting point when researching train, bus, ferry, and flight connections in this part of the world. Find your ground and water transfers via a single platform!

12Go’s most popular routes are in Southeast Asia, but also Japan, China, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Australia and New Zealand.

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7. HSE Drive

If you’re on the French Riviera or in Monaco, HSE Drive is the crème de la crème of quality transfers for individual clients. Their high-end fleet is made exclusively of Mercedes-Benz cars, none older than four years. In case of need, even helicopter or plane transfers are available. Booking a private chauffeur on Côte d’Azur is possible in just a few clicks.

HSE Drive’s most popular rides are in Cannes, Nice, Saint-Tropez, Monaco, and Fréjus, and their drivers can accompany you to glamorous events such as the Cannes Festival, Monaco Grand Prix, or famous Yacht Shows. If you want to hop over to the ski resorts of the Southern Alps, even that dream will be taken care of.

Besides these specialized airport transfer service providers, there are easy ways to organize your transport through other platforms, especially if you like a one-stop-shop approach. For instance, if you're booking your accommodation via Booking.com, you can directly arrange your airport transfers here. Likewise, if you're booking your activities and attractions through Klook, airport transfers await you here

Key features to look for in an airport transfer service

Selecting the right airport transfer service is a crucial step in ensuring an enjoyable and seamless journey. From Dublin to Dubai, from Bangkok to Bangalore, airport transfer services may slightly differ, but things you should take into account when booking transfers rarely change.

To make an informed decision on which airport transfer service fits your needs the best, you should consider the following key factors!

  • Vehicle and service type – What type of vehicle do you need? Do you want a shared or private transfer?
  • Travel time – How long will it take to get to your destination?
  • Price – Convenience may come at a cost, but just how much are you willing to spend on it? Get a few airport transfer quotes, and compare the prices before being sure you got the best deal. However, keep in mind that the cheapest option may not always be the most reliable or comfortable.
  • Reputation – Choose a company with a good reputation. You can ask other travelers for recommendations, or read online reviews and testimonials to see what previous customers of a certain provider have to say. This will give you a better insight into the quality of service of the airport transfer company you are considering.
  • Experience – When in doubt, go for a company with a longer experience in the airport transfer industry.
  • Insurance – Make sure the company is insured, providing peace of mind for both you and your luggage.
  • Additional services – Some airport transfer services go beyond the basics, offering amenities like Wi-Fi or bottled water. Consider these extras if you find them important.

Answering these questions will help you choose the most suitable airport transfer service for your specific needs and circumstances.

Tips for a seamless airport transfer experience

Now that you have chosen your airport transfer service, follow this advice for the best experience!

Cars and taxis waiting in front of the airport terminal building; photo by Jason Grant, Unsplash.
Simplify your traveler life, and pre-book an airport transfer! (Photo by Jason Grant on Unsplash)
  • Book your transfer in advance. This will guarantee your reservation and ensure that you get a vehicle and a driver.
  • Provide your flight info. Even when not asked, sneak it into the additional information box. In case there are changes, and your phone is in flight mode, this will help the driver track your whereabouts and be there to meet you on time.
  • Be on time yourself. This will help ensure that your transfer goes smoothly.
  • Have your luggage ready. Help your driver load your bags quickly and efficiently.
  • Confirm the destination address. Even if the driver should already know it, it’s good to double-check that you’re on the same page.
  • Tip your driver. This is a nice gesture to show your appreciation for the service these valuable professionals provide.

Follow these tips, and your ride from the airport, whether you are at JFK or in Cancun, will be as smooth as butter.

How much is a good tip for an airport transfer service?

Tipping practices always vary on local customs and cultural norms. While tipping the chauffer of your airport transfer service may not be required (some operators may even slide gratuity or service fee into the total bill), rewarding the stellar execution is always a classy move.

With no strict rule for this very personal decision, a common guideline for tipping an airport transfer service suggests sprinkling around 10-20% of the total fare as a tip, reflecting your satisfaction with the driver and his/her assistance during the trip.

Airport transfer service guide – Conclusion

You’ve booked a cheap flight with a connection in the French capital only to realize your first landing is at Orly, and the next takeoff is at Charles de Gaulle? Don’t worry, you’re not the first person doubting whether you’ll make it between the two airports. In this Paris case, but also many others, organizing an airport transfer service is an easy solution. When the chaos at the airport in a foreign city feels overwhelming, there’s nothing as reassuring as having a driver meeting you with your nameplate.

Airport transfer service might cost a bit more than the budget alternatives, but it buys you comfort, convenience, and a high level of customer service

In today’s fast-paced world, convenience reigns supreme. You don’t need to navigate unfamiliar routes, look for parking spaces, beg a friend for a lift, or struggle to figure out where to buy a bus ticket. Airport transfers are a punctual and reliable mode of transportation you can simply book in advance, put your worries to rest, and secure peace of mind.

After a long flight, the last thing you want to do is Google-translating signposts and worrying about how to get from point A to point B. Airport transfer service can take the stress out of your travel plans.

Besides just eliminating the source of anxiety, the trustworthy airport transfer service operates 24/7, so you can rest assured that even if you have a late-night or crack-of-dawn flight, you won’t be left in a lurch, which can easily happen with on-demand ride-sharing options.

With regularly maintained vehicles and profi drivers that pass rigorous background checks, airport transfer service puts you in safe hands.

Sure, this transportation option might cost a bit more than the budget alternatives, but what you’re investing in is comfort, convenience, and a high level of customer service. While airport transfer service may not be essential, it undoubtedly upgrades your travel, and investing in it is often worth every penny.

It doesn’t matter whether you just want to flee London‘s Heathrow as fast as possible or reward yourself with a luxury limo service in Turkey, airport transfer service will make a significant difference in your travel experience. After all, you are a VIP.

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Ivan Kralj

Editor

Award-winning journalist and editor from Croatia

8 Comments
  1. I agree with you! Using an airport transfer service can take a lot of stress off your shoulders, especially if you’re traveling to a place for the first time or have a short connection time between two airports. While I don’t plan all my local tours etc. in advance, having that first arrival pick-up sorted gives me a lot of comfort.

    1. Absolutely, Neha!
      You’ve hit the nail on the head – airport transfer services are a true stress-buster, especially in unfamiliar territories or tight connection times.
      Personally, I still balance saving some bucks with having a controlled level of stress that comes with inconvenience 🙂
      But a night-time flight to an unknown place? Airport transfer, it is!

  2. This article is 100% on point. And the #1 reason to do it is the most important. It totally reduces stress. It’s so easy to rely on Uber these days but Uber isn’t everywhere and when it is, it isn’t always plentiful at odd times (such as midnight). I absolutely booked a transfer when we landed in Lima, Peru at midnight. It was the safe, guaranteed (and cheaper) way all-around. I was SO glad I did. I booked it through my hotel though. 12Go is a good one for Asia!

    1. Thanks for your input, Heather!
      Also, about Uber, not sure if that has improved everywhere, but I remember that in some destinations the system wasn’t always welcomed by locals, which meant arranging a ride and being picked up could become quite an adventure, and you’d almost feel like being smuggled.
      Trusting an airport transfer service can indeed be a game-changer, especially when ride-sharing apps are not readily available, especially at those odd hours. Smart move booking in Lima – safety, reliability, and cost-effectiveness in one package!
      Thanks for sharing your experience and the 12Go tip too! I haven’t used it myself in Asia, but great to know you had positive impressions.

  3. Fantastic guide! It’s a game-changer to book airport transfers, especially when navigating unfamiliar destinations or dealing with language barriers. Takes the hassle out of travel logistics!

    1. Thanks a ton, Alexa!
      I couldn’t agree more – airport transfers are a blessing, especially in uncharted territories.
      No more wrestling with language barriers or navigating the maze of unfamiliar destinations – just pure travel ease!

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