THE BACKGROUND: Blacklane offers intercity rides (one way, return or by the hour) and airport transfers. At the beginning of 2021 it introduced chauffeur hailing in 21 key cities, including London, New York, Paris and Berlin. Thanks to an investment in Havn, if you hail a Blacklane chauffeur-drive in London it will always be in an all-electric Jaguar I-PACE or Tesla. In other cities, Blacklane offsets all journeys.
THE BOOKING: The online booking was fairly simple. I entered my pick-up details (Gatwick Airport) and my drop-off (my home). My exact home address wasn’t recognised so I selected a nearby petrol station. I entered my preferred time and, reassuringly, the system told me that for an airport pick-up my chauffeur would wait 60 minutes free of charge (15 minutes for other journeys). Various options were offered, the cheapest being an S-Class Mercedes, BMW or similar or an electric car (Jaguar I-PACE or Tesla). I was then asked for my flight number, what I wanted on my pick-up sign, and any other notes for the driver. I was then directed to create an account (requiring all the usual details) and to enter card details for payment. Confirmation came by email.
PRE-JOURNEY: On the evening of my flight, I received a text message confirming the time of pick-up and the name of my driver (Ali Zulfiqar). On touching down at Gatwick Airport, I received another message telling me Ali had arrived, alleviating any worries I might have had about being stranded.
THE PICK-UP: Ali, smartly dressed, was waiting for me as I came through arrivals with a digital sign with the name I had requested (being a female travelling alone I had deliberatly not used my full name.) He greeted me politely and kindly wheeled my trolley bag through the airport, asking me if I’d had an enjoyable flight. It was late and there was little traffic but Ali drove carefully and well within the speed limit. The S-Class Mercedes was the perfect temperature. We both wore face masks, as that was still required at the time, and had a really fascinating chat about Ali’s children (one is a maths genius).
THE VERDICT: A smooth experience, from the booking and the reassuring pre-arrival alerts to the drive itself. It was such a welcome luxury to have the ‘meet and greet’ service when I came through arrivals, especially on a late evening flight.
THE DETAILS: Prices depend on the journey and are all-inclusive of taxes, tips and any tolls. blacklane.com
By Bev Fearis