Complimentary chauffeurs are an absolutely fantastic benefit when travelling in a premium cabin. Many carriers around the world offer free pickup and drop off services and they range from luxury sports cars all the way up to helicopters. It makes the whole travel experience a lot smoother and is extremely helpful especially when you’re visiting a new city.
Etihad has been offering a chauffeur service for years and I’ve used it every time I’ve flown the airline. Last year, Etihad stopped offering the chauffeur service for award bookings coming from American Airlines and various other partners. This was a massive downgrade for people redeeming for Business and First. To get around this, you could often go to the arrivals lounge and get the car from there but even that was hit and miss.
Unfortunately, Etihad is again changing it’s policy on the chauffeur service for the worse. From July 3rd, Etihad will no longer offer the service for Business & First Class passengers in any other city besides Abu Dhabi, even for revenue passengers.
Etihad will instead introduce a paid service for passengers in Economy, Business and First. Passengers that will use the service will be able to earn Etihad Guest miles for their ride.
The airline is saying this is to ‘improve the experience’ however, to me, this sounds like more cost-cutting. The airline has already made quite a few changers this year to seating and lounge access and year and this is yet another fantastic ‘enhancement.’
If you are wondering, people who are in the Residence will still be able to have the car service, but for the price of the ticket – that should be a given anyway.
If you’re on a flight that’s been booked before July 3rd, you won’t be affected but if you’re booked after, you’ll have to arrange transport yourself.
Overall, this is very disappointing news and it’s quite sad to see Etihad remove it for free altogether, even for full paying passengers. I love Etihad but they need to really think about their spending and who they’re investing in. Emirates still offer the service in Business and First for both revenue and award tickets.