Airport Transfers Explained: Why Choose a Private Shuttle

3min read

Published 23 September 2019

Flight Centre Author

Content Manager


Transportation to and from the airport isn't something travellers usually give much thought to unless something goes wrong. But choosing the right transfer can not only help prevent losing time and money, it can also help set the tone for your entire trip. Here's what you should know before booking a private airport transfer, group shuttle, taxi or Uber.

What is an airport transfer service?

Before we start comparing and contrasting different vehicle types and transfer services, let's get an understanding of what this service is. Put simply, an airport transfer is pre-arranged transportation that will take travelers from the airport to their final destination. 

How do airport transfers work?

Airport transfers are typically booked in advance with the help of a travel consultant. You can book a private transfer or a shared transfer — whatever suits your individual needs and travel style.

Generally speaking, drivers will be waiting for you and the people travelling with you at your destination airport. Keep your eyes peeled! They'll usually be outside the baggage claim with a sign, ready to take you on a perfect ride to your hotel.

Now that's settled, let's take a closer look at the different services that passengers have the option of booking, as well as some of their advantages and disadvantages.

The driver of an airport transfer service helping passengers load their luggage into the shuttle
The driver of an airport transfer service helping passengers load their luggage into the shuttle
The driver of an airport transfer service helping passengers load their luggage into the shuttle

Private airport transfers vs. group shuttles

Group shuttles are often marketed as an economical alternative to a private transfer, but the difference in price doesn't come close to making up for the difference in time, comfort, convenience and overall value. 

Picture this. Once you hop off your flight and collect your luggage, you can either: 

  • Be greeted by your professional, courteous driver and escorted directly to your accommodations with complimentary gifts and insider tips. Or, 
  • Search through the crowds for your group shuttle, squish into the back seat of a 12-seater, idle in the parking lot for 40 minutes, then hop between hotels before finally starting your vacation tattered, tired and car sick.

Not to mention the journey back. Travellers who book private airport transfers can enjoy more time in their destination and avoid an unnecessarily long car trip to and from the airport. 

Realistically, the cost difference between a shared airport transfer and a private shuttle is quite marginal. If you budget an additional $30 or so per passenger, you'll have an exponentially better start to your getaway. 

“I am a huge fan of private transfers,” says Jessica Pong, Flight Centre product expert and former flight attendant. “Why don't more people do this?”

If you're like most Canadians, your vacation is one of the most important times of your year. So invest your time wisely and get the most out of your destination. 

A woman outside a busy airport waiting for her ride share to arrive
A woman outside a busy airport waiting for her ride share to arrive
A woman outside a busy airport waiting for her ride share to arrive

Private transfers vs. taxis and Ubers or other ride shares

While taking a taxi or rideshare can be a pleasant, safe and straightforward experience, booking a private airport transfer in advance ensures that your ground transportation will be all of those things. 

Postponing your ground transfer plans until your arrival can leave you vulnerable to hiked taxi prices and communication challenges. Besides that, you'll be competing with innumerable other travellers arriving from flights — all hoping to score last-minute transportation at the taxi stand.

Some rideshare apps allow travellers to book a trip in advance. However, there is some fine print you should be aware of. Even pre-booked Uber rides are subject to last-minute surge charges, and other brands like Lyft only allow you to make a reservation in limited regions. 

Book and pay for your private airport transfer in advance to guarantee full cost transparency, excellent customer services, and a convenient and safe pick-up process. 

Meet 2 of our favourite airport transfer service providers

If you're looking for an easy booking process and skilled drivers, try the transfer services provided by Olympus Tours and Buffalo Tours.

  • Olympus Tours: Olympus Tours provides first-rate airport transfers in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Panama. Their signature concierge transfers include extra perks like complimentary WiFi, sparkling wine and sweet nibbles. For an added layer of safety, all vehicles are equipped with driver tracking. 
  • Buffalo Tours: Operating throughout Asia, Buffalo Tours emphasizes responsible travel and sustainable tourism. Their private airport transfers include a personal greeting at the airport, complimentary water and cold towel, WiFi and a local guide available upon request. 

How do I book a private airport transfer?

Whether you're planning a round-the-world trip, cruise holiday or all-inclusive vacation (or just need a plane ticket home), our expert consultants can help you compare and book all of your trip details, including your rides to and from the airport. 


Ready to start your journey? Let us take care of the legwork. Connect with a travel consultant today by calling 1–855–796–8359, chatting online or popping by the Flight Centre store in your neighbourhood. 

Flight Centre Author

Content Manager


Flight Centre

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