Our family does a lot of Walt Disney World trips and Disney Cruises. For us, that means flights from our home in San Antonio to Orlando International and Miami International Airports, MCO and MIA for short. My husband’s limited vacation days are the reason for choosing flying over driving; otherwise, we’d probably road trip, at least some of the time.
Since exploring theme parks or getting on a cruise ship for a week doesn’t involve a lot of vacation driving, we usually opt to use a rideshare service to get from the airport to our hotel, from our hotel to the port, and so on. We’ve used both Lyft and Uber and have been mostly satisfied with the results.
On our most recent trips to Miami and Orlando, I decided to go completely bougie and booked a car service. I regularly listen to a cruise travel podcast where the host says car service was not “that much more” than a rideshare, so I decided to test this for myself. Here are six things I learned from booking a car service versus taking a rideshare. Blacklane provided me with complimentary codes to try their service. I’ve also researched and communicated with two of their competitors and may use them on future trips.
1. It Actually Was ‘That Much More’
The value of our ride with Blacklane was $189 each way. Because we were four people with four bags, we had to take a business-class SUV/van. We could have saved a little money if we’d been a smaller party, but we wouldn’t have all fit in a sedan. Likewise, if we’d wanted a more upscale sedan or had a larger group, we’d have paid more.
If you’re a party of six or more or if you have lots of luggage, I recommend cost comparing rideshare versus car service. It probably won’t be less expensive than hiring multiple Ubers but it would be a nicer experience and everyone could stay together.
2. You Won’t Get Away From Downloading An App
…but that wasn’t a big deal for me. I booked my car service via a website but after I entered my info, I was prompted to download the app. I didn’t really use the app because after I’d booked my ride, the driver communicated with me via text. The app allows me to have a record of my rides with that company if I choose to use it again, and I can use it to store my payment information.
3. You Have To Read The Fine Print
If rolling up to your hotel in a Mercedes-branded car or SUV is important to you, be advised that this is probably subject to change. I told my 12-year-olds we’d be riding in style and our car service subbed a Chevrolet Tahoe to transport my family of four. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but I lost some cool points in the eyes of my tweens. Also, check to see how long your driver will wait at no charge and if your driver will be monitoring your flights and adjusting for early or late arrivals.
4. Customer Service Goes The Extra Mile
When I made my reservation, I accidentally entered the wrong flight number. Our flight connected in Dallas before we arrived in Miami and I mistakenly entered the flight information for our first flight. My driver texted me while I was in Dallas and flagged my flight information. I gave him the correct info and he was in constant communication after that. When we landed, I had a text from our driver letting me know he was waiting for us at the baggage claim.
5. The Little Rockstar Touches Are Pretty Sweet
From the suit and tie-clad driver with our name on a sign to the cold bottles of water waiting in the car to being shepherded to the curb, the whole elevated experience set the tone of our trip. We managed our bags but the driver did offer to help with our luggage. The whole experience was a huge departure from waiting anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes for an Uber, refreshing the app, and trying to figure out which car was ours.
6. You’ll Know Exactly How Much Your Ride’s Going To Cost
I liked knowing how much I’d be spending and liked the when/where/how aspects of our trip. For some travelers, knowns versus unknowns matter. Uber and Lyft fees are variable and if you’re riding during peak periods, you’re subject to surge pricing.
While I’ve never paid $189 for a one-way rideshare, I have waited 30+ minutes standing on a hot, dirty sidewalk outside the airport wondering what was going to happen next. Sometimes, eliminating uncertainty as you plan your travel is a stress reducer, especially if you’re anxious or a less experienced traveler.
While my budget does not allow me to sub a car service for a rideshare every time we need a ride, I would consider using a car service again depending on the circumstances. I’d splurge for a special trip, if we had a tight timeline, or if we were traveling in a group that included others who were less used to the bustle of airports and traveling in general than we are.
Sample Car Service Rates: MIA To South Beach, One Way
I compared service for four people with four bags between the same two points on the same date. Your mileage will vary, but this gives you a little peek at comparing rates across different companies.
I’m not sure why Blacklane was more expensive than the others, so that leaves me very curious about what my experience would be with their competitors. I had a great experience and zero complaints — aside from my kids’ disappointment over having a Chevy subbed for a Benz. Nothing about the other services I researched would lead me to believe I’d have a lesser experience.
There are many others and since companies like these may be locally owned and operated, they’ll vary by location. I encourage you to read reviews and compare services across different companies. Many companies have fee scales depending on the make of the vehicle or how new the vehicle is, so if having a late-model Mercedes is important to you, most of these services can accommodate that if you’re willing to spend the extra money.