When I’m on an airport transfer and waiting in the terminal for a passenger, it always amuses me. I can almost guarantee that I see someone on the phone complaining to a taxi firm. Now don’t get me wrong, some taxi companies have a good reputation and deliver good service but they are not all equal. Some are a mixed bag when it comes to airport transfers.
Back in 2002 when I worked for a town centre taxi company, I got to know the best times of day to make money. There were obvious times like Friday and Saturday night or shift change-overs and then, there are school times. These are great because lots of drivers who cannot afford their own insurance end up as a ‘jockey’ in a company vehicle and have to do a daily school run to pay for it.
Private hire insurance is actually quite expensive. When you compare it to a normal ‘social, domestic and pleasure’ policy it can be up to ten times more (depending on your experience and no claims discount). This means ‘jockey’ drivers who rent a car and do a school contract have high costs. The company takes all the contract money which also cover the weekly rental fees.
For a new jockey driver with a school contract, their first airport transfer can look like a good earner. Maybe £60 for a run from the airport could be a good fare. What they don’t realise is that their fuel costs in dead mileage are higher than driving around town. They don’t anticipate luggage taking some time to unload from an airplane either. And then there are the parking costs to pay.
At Manchester Airport, parking costs rise every 30 minutes. Therefore a driver with little experience can be stood around watching their time and becoming ever more frustrated. You can see them dreading the next parking cost increase. By the time their passengers arrive they are fuming and almost ready to shout at them for being so long and costing them so much.
In contrast, experienced taxi drivers will not leave town at a busy time of day. They know that their local journeys link together nicely and are actually more profitable than airport transfers. This also means that a poor unsuspecting customer who arrives at the airport on a Saturday night at 8pm will be left standing even though a taxi office took their booking in good faith.
For the dispatcher in a taxi office who is left with airport transfers to cover, they sometimes force drivers to do a job. By this time the driver is already late. The elapsed time invariably means the driver will be blamed by the passenger. They are also going to be annoyed that they have been treated this way.
For myself and the drivers I work with, we don’t work around a town centre or do school contracts. We mainly do airport trips and have such a high volume they often link together. This produces economies of scale and a profitability which is different to a taxi firm. To summarise, we have time to think about our passengers and not only respect them but also consider their needs.
There are advantages to using a company who deal exclusively in airport transfers. The biggest one is probably the simplest one too. Regardless of the time of day, if you have been on a long flight and had your sleep pattern disturbed, all you really need to know when you arrive is one thing: My driver will be there waiting for me, ready to take me home.