Blacklane: An Alternative To Uber & Pricey Hotel Cars

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If you don’t yet have a Blacklane account you can receive a $10 discount on your first ride using promotion code 6X6KHRHN. Simply enter it by clicking “Do you have a voucher code” prior to finalizing your first booking.

We’re on record here at OMAAT as preferring to avoid taxis, as our rides nearly always end up being highly entertaining, and not particularly efficient. When public transportation isn’t reasonably available, our defaults are Uber, Lyft, and even hotel cars — probably like many of you.

Hotel cars can be expensive, and of course Uber and Lyft have their problems as well. There are some alternative companies, however, including Blacklane, which specializes in airport transfers (though they provide other car services as well). Blacklane promotes itself as a “global professional driver service,” not a ridesharing provider or transportation app. They utilize licensed and regulated drivers throughout their network of 200+ cities.

I used Blacklane for the first time this week, and I think it’s a service that will be useful to many of you, so figured I’d share my experience and the details.

The backstory

I’m in Europe this week on a long-planned birthday trip for my mom. My cousin Heather and her mom are here too, so there’s quite a bit more going on in terms of logistics than is “usual” for me. I usually prefer to take public transit from airports in European cities, as it’s almost always the most efficient option, but Berlin (where we are presently) is a little trickier. The trains and trams don’t service Tegel, so it would have been a bus + subway or multiple bus situation to get to our hotel.

And if you think I’m going to drag my mother and her baggage across two buses on her birthday — well, you obviously haven’t read about our trip to Singapore.

As I had to email the hotel about some other things, I enquired as to the pricing of the hotel car. For comparison, last time I took a taxi from the Berlin airport to the city center it was about €30 for one person. I generally expect the hotel car to be about double a taxi, but their pricing was so outrageous as to be comical:

From airport Berlin-Tegel (TXL)
by limousine (up to 3 persons) EUR 110,- one way
by minivan (up to 7 persons) EUR 135,- one way

From Hauptbahnhof / main train station (HBF)
by limousine (up to 3 persons) EUR 100,- one way
by minivan (up to 7 persons) EUR 125,- one way

There are four of us on this trip, so no thank you to €135 for a six-mile car ride. (Though as bad as the airport pricing is on a per-mile basis, it’s nothing compared to that for the train, which is not even a mile and a half from the hotel).

Berlin doesn’t have much in the way of Uber yet, though you can call taxis using the Uber app, and since I have international data through Google Fi, it’s easy enough to use overseas. The downside to that, however, is that you can’t choose the car size, and with four of us and our luggage something like a Prius would have been a tight fit.

Enter Blacklane

Of course we could have just taken a taxi from the airport queue, which is relatively simple in Berlin, but I remembered one of y’all mentioning Blacklane in the comments at one point (I can’t remember which of you it was, sorry!). This seemed like the perfect opportunity to check it out.

Blacklane is different than other car service apps in that you schedule rides in advance. The rates are all-inclusive (including tax, tolls, tips, and meeting you inside the airport), and the system is cashless.

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One of the nice features of Blacklane is that they track your flights, so when we were delayed 45 minutes the booking was adjusted automatically.

They also include 15 minutes of standard waiting time, or an hour for train and airport pickups. That means if you get stuck in customs or waiting for a bag you don’t have to worry about not having a ride.

You can also cancel reservations up to one hour before the scheduled pick-up time with no penalty, so you have some flexibility if plans change.

Making a Blacklane reservation

The website and app are both intuitive. I started by entering our travel date, the approximate time, and the address of our hotel. Blacklane then gave me two different options for cars:

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Both prices seemed fair (especially once you subtract the $10 discount code), and since there would be four of us I chose the van/SUV option. On the next screen I entered my flight number, and Blacklane automatically offered to adjust the pick-up time to correspond to the flight data. Love that!

There was also space to specify a name for the sign (great if you’re booking for someone else), or make any notes about the booking.

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Entering credit card details was as you’d expect:

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I was then asked to confirm the reservation details, and if you have a Blacklane voucher code you’d enter it during this step.

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Shortly after confirming the booking I received an email, and the ride displayed instantly in my account.

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The booking process couldn’t have been easier, really.

Using Blacklane

On the actual travel day I received a couple of emails from Blacklane:

  • The first re-confirmed the reservation, and provided me with the name of the driver and their cell phone number
  • The second was sent automatically when the driver checked-in at the airport

The latter was nice, but not really necessary as the driver was standing right outside the baggage claim area with a prominent sign. He introduced himself, offered help with the bags, and walked us right outside to his vehicle, which was spotless.

I don’t think I even need to describe how much better that was than standing on the curb looking at license plate numbers and watching a car icon get progressively further away from the terminal.

The drive itself was easy, the driver knew where he was going (and had received our hotel info in advance regardless), and it was nice not dealing with a taxi after an overly-ambitious two days of travel.

I was really impressed by the entire Blacklane experience, actually, and based on this wouldn’t hesitate to use them again.

Is Blacklane a good deal?

Overall, I think Blacklane pricing is fair, and the process is super-convenient. There’s obviously a price premium for that. So it’s more expensive than a taxi or UberX, but seems to be competitive with UberBLACK (and less than hotel-arranged cars).

To get a sense of the cost of Blacklane compared to Uber, I did a couple of quick price checks.

From LAX to the Andaz in West Hollywood, for example, Blacklane rates started at ~$66:

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Compared to at least $85 for UberBLACK:

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In some cities Blacklane has an economy option, which generally seems to be a bit pricier than UberX, but that could vary (more on that later). In New York, a “Business Class” Blacklane car from JFK to the Andaz 5th priced at ~$105:

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While UberBLACK rates range from $97-$126:

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Nine times out of ten I would personally take the tube from London Heathrow, but I know many prefer cars. London is one of those cities where you can get a good price by booking ahead with a local car company, so I’m not endorsing Blacklane as an option in London, necessarily.

That being said, both of Blacklane’s premium options compare well against Uber.

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On top of having competitive rates, the Blacklane options also include meet-and-greet services at airports, which in and of itself is a huge timesaver.

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In order to make the all-inclusive rates work, Blacklane does vary their rates based on time of day and such. The nice thing is that you know what the rate will be when you confirm your Blacklane reservation, so there’s no guesswork involved.

I checked rates for Berlin at other times (using the same origin and destination), and the price varied anywhere from $5-$15. I’d imagine it could go even higher during peak times or special events.

The pricing also seems to vary dramatically by city. This probably has to do with driver availability, as Blacklane wants anywhere from $50 to $70 to pick me up at the San Diego Airport and take me the three miles to my apartment. That’s clearly not happening, and is a rather ridiculous markup.

So you definitely want to check rates and shop around, but in general I think this is a great option to have, and the pricing can be surprisingly good.

Bottom line

It’s nice to see some upscale competition for Uber. I can see this being a valuable service for business travelers looking to save time, or for those who don’t have international data plans, particularly for cities in which the pricing is reasonable.

And for future airport transfers in cities with less-than-ideal public transit, I will absolutely be checking Blacklane rates.

Have you used Blacklane? How was your experience? (And please post your referral code if you have!)

If you don’t yet have a Blacklane account you can receive a $10 discount on your first ride using promotion code 6X6KHRHN. Simply enter it by clicking “Do you have a voucher code” prior to finalizing your first booking.

About Tiffany

Tiffany Funk is a passionate traveler who splits her time between California and Italy (when she’s not traveling elsewhere!) Her posts offer a different perspective on earning miles, tricks for balancing multiple household accounts, and break down the basics of redeeming miles for aspirational travel -- whatever those aspirations may be!

More articles by Tiffany »

Comments

  1. I used Blacklane upon arrival in Doha where I was spending a few nights before continuing to Dubai. I booked the “Business SUV/van” option which on their website is portrayed as a Mercedes Sprinter or similar. What I ultimately got was an old beat up minivan with a completely unprofessional driver who didn’t know where he was going.

    The big difference between Uber and Blacklane is that when I complained, Blacklane did not offer to refund part of the charge instead only offering a small discount on a future ride (and it took a few days for them to get back to me). So from a customer service standpoint Uber wins hands down.

    This is not to say Blacklane is terrible in all markets but since they rely on local companies or contractors their service can vary wildly. Without a customer service operation to hold these operators accountable it can be a risky proposition.

  2. I used Blacklane in Bangkok to get from the airport to the hotel. I was nervous about cabs since it was my first time there. I had also read horror stories about unsafe driving/ operating conditions of the vehicles. The Conrad also quoted me a pretty high price for a hotel car. I had a man waiting with my name at the meeting point in the terminal. He took me to the curb where my E class Mercedes was waiting. The car was in perfect condition. The driver was professional. There was a cold lemon scented towel and cold water waiting. It was a really nice experience. I enjoyed it so much I used it to get back to the airport. It wasn’t cheap (especially by Bangkok standards) but I enjoyed the experience. I use taxis at TXL because I have good luck with them. I used taxis in Singapore for the same reason. I am using Blacklane next month in Budapest to get to the hotel in Buda because the price is pretty good and I dont want to deal with a cab. I thought it was perfect for a place like Bangkok (somewhere I had never been before with a sketchy cab history). It is also a nice splurge for vacation. I don’t have a referral code though.

  3. I used Blacklane from the airport in Amsterdam most recently, and while the driver was professional and the car (Mercedes E Class) very comfortable, we were shocked to find it reeked of cigarette smoke. So much so in fact that it triggered an allergy attack for my husband and he spent the ride with his head out the window. Our complaint was met with regret but little recompense. Like your other reader, we were offered a discount on a future ride. I would be willing to try them again but only with an express no-smoking car promise. I shouldn’t have taken that for granted in Europe I know, but I did, with unpleasant consequences.

  4. Just looked into this from my flight into CDG to the Park Hyatt Paris in November. After the $10 savings it’s cheaper than an UberX, and after arriving at 6:55AM after flying in Economy from AUS (thru PHL) this should hopefully provide us a comfortable ride to the hotel. I know public transit options exist as well, but after that long flight this might be just what we need.

  5. I have used Groundlink, very successfully, all over the world. Blacklane sounds to be similar. My experiences with Groundlink have been flawless and economical.

  6. Never used but will consider next time in Europe or Asia. During my last trip to Europe with family I did a lot research online and arranged a driver with local companies that had very high ratings on TripAdvisor. I paid a fraction of what a hotel car would charge me and got a way better service than just getting a taxi at the airport.

  7. I’ve used them in Brazil and the drivers were fantastic. I had an early morning trip in a terrible thunderstorm to the international airport in Sao Paulo and it was comforting to have an English speaking driver. However, once in New York, my car went to the wrong Sheraton Hotel and I almost missed my flight. But overall I will use them again especially after a long international flight when it’s really great to have someone meet you.

  8. Groundlink is much better than Blacklane,

    Groundlink have professional cars with hired drivers.

    Blacklane, like uber lets drivers sign up and offer services for them, meaning its really hit or miss on what you get as a client.

  9. I used Blacklane for a pickup at SIN and it was decidedly meh. The driver wasn’t waiting and it took maybe 45 minutes (plus several Skype phone calls) to locate him. I haven’t used it again since.

  10. I use Blacklane everytime i can, However in some cities can be quite expensive like Auckland or Sydney, but when in Europe or Asia Blacklane is always my First choice, drivers are usually helpful and they provide a great service as well autos in very good condition.

  11. Blacklane is just like Uber except you request the service in advance. all the service providers as you would expect are from other limo companies or self employed. Now problem is this can be hit and miss.. when I last looked at blacklane a couple of years back the reviews were horrible. Especially for NY but NY limos are horrible anyways. Which is why for NY (where possible) I take Uber or Lyft where you can rate the driver.. you tend to get better service…that way. In other cities and Europe where the rates look MUCH better I would try without much hesitation. Tks for the heads up about Berlin good to know.

  12. I have used Blacklane in some cities and had terrible experiences as the cars are always late.

    The customer service always tries to place the blame on you and,not,the driver.

    Most of the time the Blacklane drivers are also Uber Black drivers. I had one driver drop me off at an hotel and pick up and uber black fare at the same spot.

  13. Used Blacklane in Barcelona this past August to get to a party at an out-of-town water park. Cars were decidedly NOT “Business Class” in that it was an older model Audi that wasn’t is super great shape. But the driver was professional and knew where he was going. The car and driver weren’t actively bad by any means, but there is considerable false advertising on the Blacklane site.

    The return trip from the party we attended was a disaster as the driver was supposedly waiting for us with a sign, but wasn’t visible at the exit. As another commenter mentioned, when I contacted dispatch to coordinate with the driver, we were blamed for not being in the right location. Plus the dispatcher refused to speak to me in Spanish (I’m fluent/bilingual) rather her pressed on in broken English. Furthermore, when I tried to call a second time, she insisted on using WhatsApp instead of just talking to me. She would not let me communicate directly with the driver to find out where he was and to coordinate meeting. Then when I asked her to ask the driver where he was, she told my group we should walk to him even though we still didn’t know where he was. I gave her an exact location about 1/4 mile from where he supposedly was as we walked to hunt him down, and she initially refused to tell the driver to meet us there.

    So overall, it was an incredible PITA with rude and unhelpful customer support. I wouldn’t use them again and would actively dissuade others from doing so.

  14. Yikes, expensive in Toronto and Ottawa. Just priced 2 different trips at about 6-7 miles and they show $200! That’s about 4 times the price of Uber black!

  15. Nice write-up Tiffany, I’m already comparing prices for Prague/Budapest transfers. Didn’t know about this before. Thanks!

  16. Ironic that you post this today as I just looked into a reservation with Blacklane yesterday. There was an ad / link for them in the TripCase app that I use. I compared their rates for a Mercedes E class sedan from Heathrow next week. Blacklane was only $13 less than the hotel’s car service. I would have tried them if the difference was $30 but decided $13 was not enough. I will keep checking though for other trips.

  17. I’ve used Blacklane a few times in Europe, in Paris and Amsterdam and another city or two. I specifically request a particular car as I tend to go for First Class which wasn’t really highlighted in this article. MB S-Class, 7-Series or Audi A8 and always the Long Wheel Base version (LWB). Price wise, Europe is certainly better than Australia where in Sydney a First Class car can either be well maintained or not. But on one occasion I did receive a nice credit for my next ride as the vehicle sent was an Older S-Class and a very bad drive. Plus for a central
    location pickup to the Airport was indeed pricey when Uber Black could have been cheaper but it’s a hit and miss with vehicles and preferring a LWB car. I’ve done the Business Class option in Australia too which was a Holden’s Caprice, similar to the E-Class but at a higher rate than a local Australian company which I was not impressed with (price wise – the car was OK)

    Europe on the other hand, Blacklane are competitive to local companies. But in saying that the Private Drivers in Paris work with Blacklane and have their own companies so they’re sourcing drivers which is great. I get the contact details that they offer and I use the driver again and again becoming ideal and now I have a fantastic guy in Paris!

    I recommend Blacklane if you want to try it out, keep a drivers details and use separately but I’d always prefer to have a secured Driver to pick me up in an unknown city that I’m traveling to so Blacklane is great for that.

    One gripe I have with Blacklane is that if I book a car for local pick up where ever I am at say 8am or even 6am to head to an International Airport, Blacklane email you the drivers detail and confirmation about an 1 hour before pick up. Some occasions I don’t have wifi or a local mobile with internet so I never get the info once I book online as they have to source the driver and confirm a driver too. 1-2 hour before a pick up at early hours is not suffice and a hindrance if as once before, I couldn’t get a driver for an early pick up and had to source via Uber! They should really confirm two hours or four hours Max after you’ve booked. I normally do so the day before or even weeks before!

  18. As I am being based in Berlin I use Blacklane as my primary option to get from and to the airport. I use them approx. 3-4 times a month and never had to complain on anything. Even when you get a luggage loss and have to walk to the baggage service center to make a claim the driver not only waited, but picked us up at the baggage center so we did not have to walk back to the terminal. And at no extra costs although her lost approx. 30-40 min waiting for us.
    Cars are always top notch and I never waited for a driver a single time. They are usually at my house at least 10 min early and wait patiently outside for you to get ready.
    Hard to imagine how I dealt with all the ‘friendly’ taxi drivers back in the days before Blacklane 😉

  19. I’ve used Blacklane for a few years now. They were amazing and super well priced. However, in the past several months, I’ve had issues with them many times. The drivers they have weren’t professional or safe (different drivers and areas), and they have been unresponsive to issues or any contact for that matter (such as updating a reservation). This has been the same issue on at least 5 rides on the past 3 months.

    I do NOT recommend using any longer. Sad as they were once incredible!

  20. @Raheem – Thank you for your feedback and I would like to apologies for any inconvenience or disappointment caused by the vehicle model used for your pick up.

    As mentioned on our website, specific models are subject to availability in different business districts and while, for example, the Mercedes E Class is the standard Business Class vehicle for much of Europe, the Lincoln Town Car is most commonly used in the USA. While we always do our best to accommodate specific vehicle requests mentioned in the booking, this is not guaranteed.

    Thank you for your understanding and I hope that in the future we will have the opportunity to provide you with a transfer more in line with our high quality standards.

    Best,
    Ella

  21. @Lalo Prentice, @Felix –
    Our prices initially are between what a taxi and limousine service charges, but prices tend to fall over time as volume increases and also depend from one market to another.

    We are continuously reviewing our prices in all cities that we are active in, to ensure we provide a fair price that reflects the standard of service we deliver. As such, you may see some price changes now and again. Additionally, we may increase prices for specific dates to make sure that we can ensure the availability of drivers for you, however these changes are always done in advance.

    Thank you for your understanding and for your honest feedback.

    Best,
    Ella

  22. I’ve used Blacklane extensively in Europe over the past year or so. Generally a good experience, but keep in mind their cancellation policy.

    While not usually a problem, flight delays or cancellations create issues where Blacklane is very inflexible about moving the pickup times. They try on ‘best efforts’ basis, but this can result in being charged the entire fare even if you cannot take it (because you are still in air, for example).

  23. I’ve used Blacklane mainly in Germany and I think they have a good service, often a similar price to a cab and way nicer rides. So I’d recommend. One issue I have had is that you book the ride then they confirm, and sometimes they can’t confirm because they don’t have enough cars available at that time, so you have to find an alternative. I guess this will change as the network develops and this issue was a year ago in Berlin. The fall out of this is if you use your discount code on a ride they can’t supply it’s bye-bye discount code, because you can’t use it twice.

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