Lonely Planet’s airport and holiday transfers survival guide
You’ve nailed down your flights, booked the perfect place to stay and crafted an itinerary of dreams. So don’t wait until you stagger off the plane to wonder, ‘how am I getting to my final destination?’ Here’s how to forward plan, beat the crowds and breeze to your destination stress-free.
Ignore hawkers offering you an airport transfer as you step out of Arrivals. At best, you’ll be overcharged; at worst, you could be robbed. Find the main airport taxi rank, it’ll be clearly signposted. You’ll know you’re close when you see a queue of travelers (how did they get there ahead of you?) bumping elbows to reach their holiday taxis. If there’s no meter in the cab, try to agree a price before you set out (write down numbers or point to a phrasebook if language is an issue). If you can spare the cash, airport taxis are efficient and direct (unless you’re traveling at local rush hour). But taxi transfers aren’t ideal for distant airports like Tokyo Narita or London Luton. For far-flung terminals, airport shuttle transportation is a much better call than holiday taxis.
Airport bus or coach.
Bleary-eyed travelers lurch towards any airport ground transportation labeled ‘express coach’ or ‘airport shuttles’. Most international airports advertise a preferred airport shuttle bus service, and these are often faster than local alternatives. But before you open your wallet, ask yourself whether you value a speedy arrival over a lower price ticket. Dedicated airport coaches can cost a chunk of change more than local services (though they’re cheaper than an airport taxi service) and you might be twiddling your thumbs waiting for a half-hourly departure time.
So there’s a limousine or dedicated car waiting at the airport? Lucky you. Hotel transfers are sometimes complimentary, but more often pre-arranged and paid through your hotel. Feel like a VIP as you strut up to your limo driver - he’s probably dressed sharp and covered in your hotel’s fancy insignia. If you’re really lucky, he’ll be holding up a placard with a misspelling of your name!
Local bus or train.
These are usually less clearly advertised, sometimes located further out of the airport (keep your eyes glued for bus stop signs) and it might take longer to get to your desired destination. It’s a great way to get a feel for the city, save cash and enjoy an instant dash of local flavor. You won’t necessarily be wedged between a cage of chickens and 40 cigar-chomping locals; but if you are, we guarantee it’ll be the one of the best stories of your trip.