Emirates Cuts Complimentary Chauffeur On Award Tickets (Again)

Some airlines will offer complimentary luxury chauffeur rides to and from airports for their premium passengers. It was a godsend when I moved from Melbourne to London a few years ago to be picked up at both ends by an Etihad private chauffeur, especially as I had so much luggage.

I’ll never forget walking through the arrivals hall at Johannesburg Airport one time just as an Emirates A380 had landed — there was an absolute army of chauffeur drivers all waiting for the passengers from that flight.

This is obviously an expense for those airlines offering it, so some airlines that did initially offer it to all premium passengers have slowly pared back the offer over the years.

Some airlines don’t allow it on award bookings at all, while others only allow it on award bookings booked through their own loyalty program, and not where a passenger has redeemed miles on a partner airline.

Emirates has traditionally been one of the most generous airlines with their chauffeur drive program, but even they ceased offering this to partner redemption passengers four years ago.

Until now, if you booked a business or first class redemption using Emirates’ own Skywards miles, you could still use this service, with understandably some restrictions as to luggage amounts and distance limits.

But Emirates has announced that for all classic rewards using Skywards miles, this service will no longer be available from March 1, 2019.

My interpretation of their updated terms and conditions is that reservations can no longer be made after this date, but if you make a flight and chauffeur booking this month for travel in, say, July 2019 as a Skywards redemption, you would still be able to book the driver.

If you are in this situation (travelling after March 1 on a Skywards miles redemption but have not yet booked your driver), I’d love to know if you still have that option — i.e. if my interpretation is correct.

I would also assume those drives already booked, for travel after March 1, will not be affected.

Anyone using Skywards miles to upgrade from Emirates economy to business class will also be ineligible for chauffeur drive from this date.

Revenue passengers will still enjoy the same services as before.

Bottom line

Having a fleet of drivers and cars meet each flight is a significant expense for any airline, especially in expensive cities, so I’m not surprised to see this feature continually reduced by airlines around the world.

It was a nice perk for redemptions before, but is really designed for those revenue passengers who are already spending a lot of money on their ticket.

Do you think any airlines will retain chauffeur drives for redemption tickets?

Comments

  1. I was just able to confirm chauffeur drive on a classic reward in first on EK metal booked using QFF points for a flight at the end of the year from FCO-DXB.

  2. YMMV but I couldn’t get a chauffeur on an MH biz ticket, tried via Twitter and the website. Though I did hear that you may get one by taking your EK issued BP to the desk on arrival. I was only going a short distance so didn’t bother to try

  3. After seeing this on another blog, I realized I had not booked my chauffeur service for an award flight I have in June for my ATH-EWR flight. Logged onto my account and added the chauffeur service without issue. Shows as “confirmed” and with a confirmation number now.

  4. This can get murky, but sometimes customer service on the ground can extend a courtesy. Flew DXB-LHR on Qantas first class via AAadvantage, and Qantas wouldn’t offer a car on the DXB-LHR leg because it was a partner redemption. But on the return, the helpful Qantas agent at LHR proactively offered to arrange a car once we landed in DXB through Emirates (their DXB partner), even though she knew that the policy on rewards flights did not allow for this.

  5. I understand not having chauffeur service outside of DXB but to see this also include DXB is surprising to me.

  6. Damn this sucks. It was a life saver when I was flying F from Milan. The ride to the airport from the city was about an hour away.

  7. @ Dave @ MilesTalk:

    EK Flex rewards *are* Classic Rewards. Saver, Flex, and Flex Plus awards are all considered Classic Rewards.

    On the other hand, a Cash+Miles redemption is not a Classic Reward.

    @ James:
    I just booked an EK J award for Nov 19, and successfully confirmed chauffeur reservations for both the origin and the destination.

  8. Two years ago i was able to get limousine service on an alaska Award ticket in f (when it was 90K one way) upon arriving but not on the way out (to Amman). So even though it was then not suppose to be included – it was when i asked and showed my “Emirates” boarding pass. When i inquired about the other flight (to Amman) I was told I was ineligible for that flight as it was an alaska award ticket. The lesson is it does not hurt to ask (and at the time the ticket stock from LAX said emirates)

  9. @barry… Qf cut the chauffer drive on the shorter sector ages ago even on a paid ticket. If you’d flown lhr-syd or reverse you would’ve got it. If I fly syd-lhr but break journey in sin I wouldn’t get it between syd-sin but would get it sin-lhr.

  10. I flew Emirates F in May 2018 on a Qantas FF award ticket, and had complimentary chauffeur service to and from each leg of the journey. Perhaps it wasn’t fully stopped 4 years back?

  11. You can get Emirates CD on Emirates award flights booked using Qantas FF miles. I did this last year on a trip to Lisbon. Not possible if booked with (less) AA miles unfortunately.

  12. I was able to book car service today for a first class award next October from MXP-JFK at both ends with no problems. Thanks for getting the word out, I probably wouldn’t have otherwise found out about this until shortly before the trip.

  13. For what it’s worth, I don’t think they maintain a fleet and hire drivers in all cities. In some cities, they just contract with a local limousine service, which is much cheaper than maintaining a fleet of vehicles for certain outstations that don’t have too many car trips.

  14. VS fairly recently reduced its inclusive car from 4 Upper Class fare buckets to 3 so now only J,C qnd D get a ‘free’ car and I no longer getting it. Z the cheapest UC cash fare never got one.

    What VS do allow those on a G Upper Reward ticket to do is ‘buy’ a car for 17.5k miles per leg. It may not be the best value for use of miles but at least it’s an option.

    BA also experimented for a while for F and CW about 10 years ago but that didn’t last too long.

  15. I tried to get CD on an Alaska award ticket J class with a 32 hour stop over in Dubai but was told nicely it was not available due to being ticketed on AK stock.

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