You have probably had the experience of finally making it through baggage reclaim and as you lug your suitcases out into the arrivals area, you notice a few drivers holding name cards. As you wonder how you’re going to get to your hotel you may assume that those drivers are waiting for business or at least very well-off travellers. Well, in reality, they’ve probably just pre-booked an airport transfer!
Why pre-book an airport transfer? Here are some of the benefits:
Catching even an official taxi from Alicante airport, there is always some doubt about what the price will end up being, especially if your accommodation is some distance from the airport. Factors like traffic can end up adding a significant amount to your metered fare.
When you pre-book an airport transfer, you have a fixed price in advance. And if you’re travelling a longer distance (such as to Torrevieja) you will likely find that it’s even cheaper.
In this way you can avoid any nasty surprises or the awkwardness or aggravation of arguing with a taxi driver over a high metered bill. If you live in Alicante or nearby, you may well find that a pre-booked airport transfer is cheaper than paying for airport parking.
The official taxis that you will find outside the airport are usually standard 5 seater cars and so are legally only permitted to take a total of 4 passengers (including kids). If you’re in a large group or have a family you may need to book more than 1 taxi which doubles the cost.
If you pre-book an airport transfer you can choose a larger vehicle to suit your group’s needs. As an example, a larger group might opt for a 7 passenger SUV or a minivan. These will cost a bit more than a standard 5 seater vehicle but definitely cheaper than 2 taxis!
A larger vehicle may also come in handy if you have a lot of luggage, for example if you’re going on a long trip or planning to play golf!
If the airport is particularly busy then you may well find yourself in long queue for a taxi and/or waiting for one to show up due to the high number of other passengers.
A pre-booked transfer gives you once less thing to worry about – no queues as your driver will meet you in the terminal and take you directly to your car. After all, the point of a holiday is to relax not get stressed worrying about a taxi in a long queue at the airport!
And of course, if you’re ending your holiday, then having a pre-booked airport transfer gives you one less thing to worry about so you can enjoy the end of your holiday in peace.
If you have small children then you may well find that the waiting airport taxis don’t have child seats. Of course, airport taxi drivers will do their best to find one, hunting around among the other drivers to see if they have a spare, but they may well not be able to provide one and obviously it might not be the right size for your child! In contrast, if you pre-book a transfer you will have the opportunity to pre-book the right sized child seat or booster to travel in safety.
If you like that VIP feeling, then a pre-booked taxi is ideal!
Your driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall with an official name card with your name on it. He will check your booking details and then take you to your private taxi which will be waiting outside. After you arrive at your accommodation he will ask for payment. Your driver will usually monitor your flight’s progress so if there’s a delay he can arrange to still be waiting for you at no extra cost.
You will also be given a phone number for emergencies so that you can get in touch with your driver in case of any problems.
On your booking confirmation you will find details of the meeting point. However your driver will almost definitely meet you directly in the arrivals hall with your name on a card. One important thing to check: Make sure that the driver is from the company you booked with and has your details. Some drivers have been known to pretend to be the official driver (despite not knowing the customer’s name or details!) so they can get the taxi fare. They would take you to your destination and then try to have you pay in advance for the return journey but, of course, wouldn’t turn up!
There are different websites that offer pre-booked airport transfers.
They are fairly straight forward to use – you choose your destination, tell them how many passengers will be travelling and then a quote is provided. If you’re happy with the quote you can enter your details (flight number, contact details, and where you should be picked up / dropped off from). Some of the sites will want you to pay in advance, however the majority don’t.
Because of this, if you change your plans and don’t need to taxi anymore, it would be thoughtful to cancel the booking. That way your driver won’t lose time and money waiting for you.
If you need to bring a folded wheelchair then your driver can accommodate that as long as the vehicle has space for it along with your luggage.
It may also be possible to get disabled access vehicles – these are the type where you can drive directly onto a ramp. Please check this out in advance with the company and be prepared for a higher price.
Most companies will tend to allow one large suitcase and one ‘carry-on’ type bag per passenger. If the vehicle has space, the company usually won’t charge extra if you have more luggage, although it’s always best to get this approved in advance with the company to avoid surprises.
If you have larger items (e.g. golf equipment or a bicycle), it’s best to let the company know in advance to make sure that the vehicle is big enough. If there’s enough space, then they probably won’t charge extra. If you need a larger vehicle to accommodate the extra luggage then you’ll need to pay a bit more.
One worry can be – what happens if my flight is late? Will my driver still be there?
As this is a common occurrence, your driver will keep an eye on your flight’s progress and wait for you. Some companies have a limit – their drivers will only wait for a maximum of an hour. However, the majority will wait longer.
What if I get delayed going through customs / passport control?
Your driver will know how long it usually takes to get through passport control/customs and will usually allow 20-30 minutes. A good driver would then call you if you’re delayed beyond that. However just to be on the safe side, if you are delayed for longer than that going through customs etc, it would be wise to give him a quick call or send one of your group ahead to meet the driver. This will avoid the risk of him thinking that you are a ‘no-show’ and leaving the terminal.
You can usually bring a pet with you but remember to consider luggage space. As usual, it’s best to let the company know in advance.
Smoking is not permitted in public vehicles in Spain.
If you need to stop somewhere else to pick up keys for your accommodation, it’s best to let the company know in advance. They may not charge if it’s an easy stop (i.e. close to where you’re going or at least on the same route). Some companies may add an additional charge of €10-15 for each additional stop.
If you’re returning (i.e. at the end of your holiday your travelling back to Alicante airport) then it’s best to plan to be at the airport 2 hours before your flight leaves. And remember to add in an estimate for how long your transfer journey will take.