There’s no doubt about it: Traveling in the first class or business class cabin of many international airlines is exciting. You’re treated like royalty, with preferred access to check-in and security lines, entry into the airlines airport lounge, a welcome glass of champagne when you board, a roomy seat that often transforms into a comfortable lie-flat bed and five-course gourmet meals. It’s easy to get used to.
But there’s one amenity that a handful of airlines offer to first and business class passengers that is really fun: free chauffeur service in luxury vehicles. Imagine having a Mercedes or other luxury sedan transfer you to the destination of your choice after stepping off your flight. It can happen if you book a ticket with one of these airlines, even if it’s an award ticket. Here’s a list.
Emirates is the leader in providing complimentary chauffeur service to passengers flying in premium cabins (both first and business). In fact, the service is offered in more than 70 cities across the globe, on both arrival and departure. In Dubai, for example, first class guests are driven to their destinations in a Mercedes. Other makes and models are used in other parts of the world. You must make your car reservation at least 48 hours in advance, either online or by phone.
If you’re flying as a Diamond First or Pearl Business passenger aboard an Etihad flight, you are entitled to complimentary chauffeur service at about 30 airports worldwide. Call or go online to book your reservation; you must do that no later than 24 hours before your flight. Etihad uses a variety of luxury sedans for this service. It’s interesting to note that Etihad partner Air Berlin offers similar chauffeur service to its passengers traveling to and from Abu Dhabi. This is to provide consistent services to those who may book an itinerary with segments on both Air Berlin and Etihad. Full-fare and award tickets are eligible for this service.
This Australian airline offers free chauffeur service to its first class and business class passengers, but its limited to four routes: Sydney to Dubai, Sydney to London, Melbourne to Dubai and Melbourne to London. It’s very important to note that you must be booked on a Qantas ticket (one starting with ticket number 081) to book free transportation. If you booked an award ticket with a partner airline, you are not entitled to chauffeur service. If you did book with Qantas (paid with cash or frequent flyer miles), call or log into your frequent flyer account, and you’ll be able to reserve your chauffeur car service. You must make your car reservation at least 48 hours in advance.
If you often fly to and from Brazil, you’ll be interested in TAM’s complimentary chauffeur service, which is only available to passengers in first class. This holds true whether you paid cash for your ticket or booked it with miles. Call TAM at 1-888-235-9826 to make your reservation, and be sure to do it 24 hours in advance if you’re leaving from North America or 48 hours if you’re coming from Europe.
While other airlines, such as Virgin Atlantic, offer chauffeur service, it is restricted to full-fare first class passengers, and the benefit is not extended to those booked on award flights.