While limousine services can be perceived as a luxury service for the rich and famous, you would be surprised how a few hacks can not only save you money, but cost less than a taxi (including saving your time waiting on the taxi line!) In addition to flat rates and not based on meters which work on time and distance (and surge on demand), use these tips to further save you on your travels.
Request a curbside pickup
Now if you're a seasoned traveler and have to rush once you arrive at the airport, this is the quickest way out of the airport. Not only do you have a driver ready outside to whisk you away as you walk out of the terminal, but you will bypass the whole parking lot, paying for the parking (fee saved) and spend less time circling just to exit the airport. While meet and greet service is great for when you're not familiar with a particular city or if you have lots of luggage, it does cost more sometimes, about 20% extra! Insider tip: text the driver as you get your luggage from the baggage claim or if you got only carry on, text about 5 minutes before stepping outside the terminal. Not as fancy as having a driver holding a sign with your name so everyone who's walking to the taxi line can envy you, but it's very efficient. Best if you're traveling in NYC at LGA, JFK or EWR airports. I can go into other helpful curbside tips, but I'll leave it for another blog post ;)
Book directly with a limousine service
So what does this really mean? Aren't I booking with a limousine service when I use Uber or Limos.com? Actually you're not, these apps and services, while convenient and say they offer the best rates by having limo services compete for your services, actually add a 20% or higher commission to what a normal limousine service would offer. And don't forget the possibility of surge pricing, yikes!
Instead, use it like a search engine like yelp but just for limousine services. Look for ratings and reviews which these app companies do provide to select the best for the money and call them directly. Again, not as simple as pressing a couple of buttons and booking, but the rates you get when negotiating is well worth the extra time, especially for things like nights on the town, weddings or corporate travel. Not only that but you would also be surprised how limousine companies have caught up with technology and may even have apps of their own! Another hint: if you're a frequent booker in a particular city, create an account with them and receive a personalized service in your home city. Most account holders receive automatic discounts off their regular rates!
Request for a delayed airport pickup
Another airport hack to save you money. How would you like to enjoy the convenience and comfort of having a professional driver meet you at the airport, but not pay for the extra wait the driver has to go through? This works best for international arrivals and don't have global entry (US citizens can speed through customs with this so this hack does not apply to them). If you're traveling from abroad to say JFK or EWR airports, once you land, not only do you have to get your luggage but have through go through customs. Customs, can sometimes take at least an hour and before you know it, you're getting charged for it.
Now, it is best to hire a limo service with a driver meet and greet at the terminal of a foreign city, the driver will track your flight and meet you upon arrival, such a great way to start a trip to a new city. Most limo companies not only charge for the meet and greet, but offer 1 hour courtesy wait time for international arrivals. However, once that hour passes, and most times it does, you will get charged for wait time. Instead, specify to your limo service to not only track your flight (they do this regardless), but to pick you up 30-45 minutes AFTER your flight lands. So for example, your flight lands at 9:00PM, but you ask your limo provider to be at the airport 45 minutes after it lands, so the new pickup time is 9:45PM. Your chauffeur will be at the terminal and now you have until 10:45PM before the wait time charge applies. You just saved a potential charge of $45-$60 had the driver came in at 9:00PM when the flight landed. This gives you an extra buffer in case of delays and long lines at customs and still have the convenience and peace of mind of having your chauffeur greet you when you arrive without paying extra for it!
But you have to make sure you request this, and simply putting it on the time on the reservation does not count (for example, flight arrives 9:00PM, and you simply reserve by putting 9:45PM on their online reservation system). Otherwise, the limo service will just track the flight and the "actual arrival times" always supersedes the "reservation time" for airport pickups. The notes section of most online limo reservation services is great place to specify this request.
I hope these hints and tips help you when booking your next chauffeur hire service, Although these have been applied in New York City, they will work just as well at your next destination!