How do you usually get to the airport when it’s time to travel? In Singapore, unless I can get my family to give me a lift, I usually call a cab because where I live, it’s just too much of a hassle to take public transport, and the cost of convenience and time when you’re lugging around suitcases is definitely not worth saving on!
For this last trip to Dublin and Prague, I was approached by the kind folk of Blacklane to test out their limousine service. They provide private limousine and chauffeur services in almost 90 cities in 40 countries around the world (when I first spoke to them in September, the figure was 50+ cities in 20 countries, that is some serious expansion), and luckily Singapore is one of them!
There is a desktop website that you can access, but the ease of it is being able to make the booking on your Android or iPhone smartphone through their Blacklane app (make sure you download the right one – for iphone there’s another one in the store called BL driver which is what the drivers use to check their bookings), so as long as you have internet access and more than 15 minutes before you expect to depart, you can book a ride!
You can hire the services to get you from one point to another, with airport pick-ups being the most common, Or you hire the limousine services by the hour – read more on their website here. The good news is that all these costs are shown up front, so you know what you’re paying for before you agree to it and find some weird hidden costs
BOOKING MY RIDE
I decided to test the ride to get from my house to Changi Airport with the airport transfer service – I would be rushing back home from a work event before that in the evening before zooming off to the airport, so having a confirmed ride was ideal, as I didn’t have to worry about not being able to book a cab (especially frustrating when the weather is rainy!).
The booking system is pretty easy to use, though the iphone app was a bit buggy for me during the setting up of my initial account – I had to set up my account and payment (through credit card) through the desktop interface because it was being a bit buggy for me on the phone. (Another random weird thing is that my choice of title was only between ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’, I don’t know if their custom, but calling myself Mrs. felt odd)
After that I booked my journey (about 5 days prior)- from my house to Singapore Changi Airport, you have the option of booking the ride for yourself or on behalf of someone else. I like that for pick-ups, you have the option to include your flight info and pick-up name, so your driver can check if you’re on time of if your flight has been delayed.
On the day of my journey, I received an email to tell me that my chauffeur was on his way to my location along with his contact details. I had booked my ride for 830pm but before that I received another email notification that my driver had arrived about 10 minutes early, so once I was all packed up I grabbed my gear and headed off.
I found my driver Mr Peter Lee waiting patiently for me and he helped load my luggage into the car. The car was a black Mercedes sedan, and a really comfortable car, everything you expect from a premium service. Fancy leather seats, spacious, quiet and smooth drive. Mr Lee was also very pleasant to talk to as we chatted all through my 20 minute journey to the airport, very attentive to my well-being and he helped me unload my luggage at the end. Perhaps a pity that Singapore is so small! You get another confirmation again after the ride, and the chance to offer feedback and rate your driver and ride (mine got 5 stars each of course).
Sadly I wanted to try this service in Prague and Dublin to see if the services were equal overseas – Blacklane is a German company but they work with local limousine services so as to provide familiar localized service, but unfortunately they aren’t available in both those cities (it was available in Prague at one point, but had to be disabled due to technical difficulties).
For the average traveller who’s just looking to get to the airport in one piece, it might be a little extravagant – the cost of getting to the airport from my place was about 2x what it would normally cost me to call an ordinary taxi.
But you don’t hire a premium limousine service just to get you from place to place, these services are for those enjoy travelling in style; I could imagine using this again on special occasions like birthdays or honeymoons when I want to pull out the stops for a special partner or treat my loved ones to something fancy. Otherwise, corporates would love using this for getting business travellers or higher level executives around a city as it’s stylish and efficient.
Thanks to Blacklane for the complimentary test ride. All opinions are my own.