Here’s A Feature Every Airport Hotel Shuttle Should Have

Filed Under: Advice, Hotels

Unreliable shuttle service is one of my biggest frustrations with airport hotels. Ideally airport hotels will have schedules they publish with when they pick up at both the airport and the hotel. While it’s common to have published times for shuttle departures from hotels, at the airport it’s generally more of a crapshoot.

My issue with waiting 30 minutes for an airport shuttle isn’t just that it takes 30 minutes, but rather that the 30 minutes are completely wasted. You’re having to stand on the polluted outside roadway straining your eyes to see what hotel each shuttle is from.

I wouldn’t mind waiting 30 minutes if I knew it would be a 30 minute wait — I could sit down in the terminal and get work done on my laptop, grab a coffee, etc. It’s just the wait time along with the unpredictability that annoys me.

Reader [email protected] forwarded me something awesome that I’ve never seen before. The Westin SFO and Aloft SFO share a shuttle, and there’s an online link where you can track the status of the shuttle in real time. Apparently this link is being sent out to guests in a pre-stay email, and it’s also on the hotels’ websites.


Then you can track exactly where the shuttle is, and also see estimates as to how long it will be until the shuttle reaches the terminals, hotels, etc.


This is brilliant, and surely a tracker can’t be that expensive to install. Why can’t more airport hotels do this? It would take 90% of the aggravation out of the airport hotel shuttle experience for me.

  1. Parking Spot at LAX also has a similar “Shuttle tracking” feature – anyone can view on their website -very convenient! Yeah hate the stress of having to watch/identify every shuttle that passes, fearing that blinking could cause a miss!

  2. If it’s every 30 minutes, it’s usually on the hour and half hour in one direction (to or from the airport), and something like 10 minutes after in the other direction. Some hotel websites will have the schedule, or you can always call the front desk and ask when the next shuttle is coming if you don’t want to waste time waiting outside…. That will often lead to a heads up to the driver so they’ll keep an eye out for you when they’re doing pickups, too.

  3. Aggaravation? You wait till it comes. What is there to get aggravated about.

    Are you usually trying to decide whether you should go to toilet at the airport or at the hotel. And not knowing where the shuttle is really aggravates you.

  4. LAX airport shuttle is the worse, you wait until they show up, your lucky if it is 30 min.

  5. Great idea. Normally I call or text a number provided with the reservation and they advise the wait time. Pooling resources between hotels is progress as long as they don’t cut back on vehicles. Thirty minutes is about as long as I want to wait for an airport shuttle.

  6. Agree 100, that is an excellent idea. Nothing worse than choking down diesel and gas fumes while waiting for the shuttle. And God forbid you miss it as it will be at least 30 minutes until the next one.

  7. Can’t wait for driverless cars so that we can summon a hotel car and not wonder where the shuttle is our if you’re even standing in the right spot.

  8. The Airport Shuttle bus in Hong Kong have this feature too, there is a website shown on the Bus Stop Sign.

    It will show you estimated time of arrival and distance the bus is from the airport.

  9. Tried this a few weeks ago, it is easy to know where the bus is when it’s far out, but during when it’s at or near the terminals it’s impossible to tell which stops it passed and which stops are next, which kind of defeats the whole purpose. Being in the know is good but I’d much prefer if they increase their frequency, because when I waited for their shuttle at least three Hilton doubletree shuttle came by.
    Having said that I still love Westin SFO

  10. @Antipode: some hotel shuttles have schedules, such as departing the hotel on the hour and half hour, and departing the terminal 1-15 minutes after. But many do not. Calling the hotel on arrival is useless, as often they do not operate the shuttle and have no idea where it is. Sometimes I’ve taken a taxi because it’s so aggravating to arrive after a long flight and have no idea if the shuttle is 2 minutes away or 32.

  11. Even easier than a website that displays the shuttle location is a screen in the lobby near the shuttle pick up point that has this information constantly displayed. Sheraton Four Points LAX has this.

  12. One of the problems with hotel’s airport shuttles is they have to keep driving around without knowing if anyone is arriving. I think it would make sense for the hotel to SMS a link to guests, and when the guests exit the airport they can click the link to let the shuttle know where they are, and the shuttle can reply with the time until arrival. That could save lots of wasted gas and annoyance time.

  13. @Randy: My experience when I’ve called has been positive. Either they’ll say “it just left the hotel X minutes ago and should be there in about Y minutes” or they’ll offer to call the shuttle to check in and call me back with a time. YMMV.

  14. @Antipode, nice that some hotels have been so helpful. Unfortunately, only some fall into this category.

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