One of the great luxuries of flying premium cabins is being given complimentary door-to-door chauffeur service on award tickets. If nothing else, it’s a cool experience to tell family/friends about or post about on social media. Not very many airlines offer the service, however, so if this is something you value then hopefully this post will help. In general, American Airlines/US Airways miles are the best ones to have for chauffeur service due to their partners.
Note that there are several other airlines that offer a chauffeur service, but they require paid tickets or extra miles in order to make use of them. The airlines listed below make the service available for all passengers. Also note that I didn’t include airlines that drive you from the terminal to the airport (like Lufthansa).
Probably the least known airline that offers this service, Air Berlin provides a complimentary “limousine service” on one select route: Abu Dhabi to Berlin/Dusseldorf. This is due to the partnership Air Berlin has with Etihad, which also offers a chauffeur service (see below). I’ve never had to use this one and don’t really plan to, but my understanding is you can’t book it online, so you’ll have to call to book this service. Note that this is offered for Business Class since Air Berlin does not have a First Class.
Air Berlin is a Oneworld Alliance member, which can be booked using American Airlines or US Airways miles.
Emirates’ Chauffeur-drive is offered in more cities than any other airline on this short list (70 cities at the time of this post). Emirates makes this service available for both Business Class and First Class passengers, and the pick-up range is usually pretty large at around 60 miles for cities in the US. If that’s outside your range, you can still get picked up for an additional charge. This service can be booked online or by calling. I haven’t used this service yet (had to cancel a ticket unfortunately) but definitely hope to soon!
Emirates awards are most easily booked with Alaska Airlines miles (and a great value, I might add). You can also transfer Amex points to Emirates directly, but be wary of high taxes/fees.
The Etihad Chauffeur Service is similar to the one Emirates provides, but is only available in 25 cities around the world. Thankfully the US destinations are pretty well covered and have varying ranges of 60-70 miles for pick-up (London travelers get a whopping 100 mile radius!). In most cases this service can be booked online as long as you have the Etihad confirmation number, which is different from your AA confirmation number. You’ll need to call and simply ask for the Etihad confirmation number, which should be readily available to call center staff (it literally took me 1 minute on the phone). I’ve booked my pick-up and drop off for a trip in 3 weeks, so I’ll be sure to report on that experience when I write the trip report. This service is offered to Business and First Class passengers.
Etihad is partners with American Airlines, so one-way prices of 67.5K miles (Business) or 90K miles (First) will allow you to make use of this service.
Qantas’ Chauffeur Drive is no longer offered to passengers in the US unfortunately, a change that was made just last month since the airline is losing crazy amounts of money. That being said, the service is still offered on flights from Australia to Dubai and Dubai to London (QF 1/2 and QF 9/10). The pick-up range in Australia is 40-60kms, in the UAE there is no limit, and London’s limit is 70 miles.
I was lucky to make use of Qantas’ Chauffeur Drive just before it was phased out when I used it in May. The range for LAX was very low at only 40 miles, and I live in Orange County about 45 miles to LAX, so I had to pay a small surcharge. It was well worth it, however, since I didn’t have any stress about crazy rush hour traffic. The ride from SYD to the Radisson Blu Sydney was comfortable as well, and I convinced the driver to take an extra tip and drive an extra two passengers (I was traveling with friends). I’ll be lucky enough to use this service again from Dubai-London next month!
Qantas is a part of the Oneworld Alliance, so tickets can be booked with American Airlines or US Airways miles.
Thanks to my good friend Fabio, who writes the Passageiro de Primeira blog (a Portuguese blog) for letting me know to add TAM to this list!
TAM offers First Class passengers a chauffeur service. These seats have been historically difficult to find on award tickets, but this year space became much more plentiful. You’ll need to call at least 24 hours in advance to book the service. Details are scarce (extremely difficult to find online) but you can call (888) 235-9826 to book your ride.
Once again, we find that TAM is a Oneworld member airline. That means you can use both AA and US miles to book awards on TAM.
As you can see, there are very few opportunities to make use of a complimentary chauffeur service along with your award ticket. Four of the five options can be booked using American Airlines miles, so it’s a valuable currency to own if a free ride is something you value.
Have you taken advantage of a chauffeur service? How was the experience?