Review: Emirates Chauffeur Drive

Review: Emirates Chauffeur Drive

Flying with Emirates in business class or first class? Chances are, you can take advantage of the airline's complimentary Chauffeur Drive service: whisking you from your front door to the airport lounge in style.

Australian Business Traveller put Chauffeur Drive to the test on a recent journey with Emirates – here's how it fared, along with who's eligible, and how to book a free driver on your next trip.

Complimentary Emirates Chauffeur Drive: who's eligible?

Whether you'll have access to Emirates Chauffeur Drive depends on many factors including how you booked your journey, where you're travelling to, where you're sitting on board and the flight number on your ticket.

Those eligible include:

  • Emirates business class and first class passengers when booked on an EK flight number, with a few exceptions including journeys solely between Australia and New Zealand; between Bangkok and Hong Kong; and between Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.
  • Business class and first class passengers travelling on a Qantas QF codeshare flight operated by Emirates – such as Sydney-Dubai-Paris – excluding the routes above and also Emirates' Sydney-Bangkok, Melbourne-Singapore and Brisbane-Singapore routes, which only provide Chauffeur Drive when booked on an EK flight number.
  • Emirates Citibank World Mastercard customers when flying with Emirates in economy on an EK flight number, except between Australia and New Zealand and on flights booked using frequent flyer points. Limit of one complimentary return transfer per year in Australia only for up to two guests in the same car, when the journey was purchased using the Citibank credit card.
  • Emirates iO (Invitation Only) members when travelling with Emirates in any class of service.

For business class and first class travel, tickets booked using Qantas Frequent Flyer points or Emirates Skywards miles are eligible for the complimentary chauffeur service, but tickets booked using miles from other frequent flyer schemes, such as Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, are ineligible.

Specifically in Hong Kong, Chauffeur Drive is only offered to passengers travelling in first class (to/from Dubai), not in business class.

Chauffeur Drive can also be used at a mid-point in the journey when in transit for 24 hours or more – so if you're flying from Sydney to Dubai, spending some time in Dubai and continuing onward a couple of days later, you can enjoy free airport transfers on departure in Sydney, on arrival in Dubai, when departing Dubai and also when arriving at your final destination.

Do the same on a return trip and that's up to eight complimentary transfers included in your ticket!

Qantas also operates its own Chauffeur Drive service for passengers travelling aboard Qantas aircraft (including on EK codeshare flight numbers) – you can read our review here.

Complimentary Emirates Chauffeur Drive: how to book

Think you're eligible for Chauffeur Drive? Then head to the Emirates website, click 'manage an existing booking' from the options to your right, key in your flight reservation details and click 'retrieve booking'.

You should then see a list of flights on your reservation. Before moving to the next step, double-check your travel class (business class or first class), and that your flight shows as 'confirmed'.

If you're currently 'waitlisted' or have a standby ticket, you won't be able to book Chauffeur Drive just yet, but you can try coming back later when your booking has been finalised.

Assuming you're good to go, you should be able to scroll down further where the option to book your chauffeur appears:

Simply click 'book', provide a contact number for the driver just in case you can't be found, and nominate your preferred pick-up time and location. Easy!

Mileage limits apply in most cities – above which, additional charges may apply – but are usually enough to cover most transfers. For example, Chauffeur Drive offers the following on a complimentary basis:

  • Up to 40 driven kilometres in Sydney
  • Up to 45 driven kilometres in Perth
  • Up to 60 driven kilometres in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide
  • All travel within a 75-mile radius of your London airport (Heathrow or Gatwick)
  • An unlimited distance within the UAE, when travelling to/from Dubai Airport – including journeys not just to Dubai, but other Emirates such as Abu Dhabi and Sharjah as well.

However, most chauffeur transfers must be booked at least 48 hours prior to departure – so if you're travelling on a last-minute journey, you may not be able to secure the chauffeur for your outbound flight, but should be able to lock it in for your return.

There's a longer booking window for transfers in Dubai, which can be arranged until four hours before travel for first class passengers and six hours in advance for business class flyers.

When heading to a different Emirate in the UAE, such as Abu Dhabi, Chauffeur Drive can be booked by first class passengers up to eight hours before travel, and by business class passengers up to 12 hours before departure.

If you're arriving at Dubai Airport and forgot to book your chauffeur earlier, you can also make a last-minute reservation at the Emirates Chauffeur Drive desk, found to the right as you exit the customs hall.

Emirates Citibank World Mastercard holders travelling in economy class should instead phone Emirates on 1300 303 777 to make their Chauffeur Drive booking.

Complimentary Emirates Chauffeur Drive: going for a spin

We put Emirates' Chauffeur Drive service to the test on a recent return trip between Australia and Dubai: departing from Sydney and returning into Brisbane.

It got off to a bumpy start – as we didn't receive our flight reservation for the Sydney-Dubai leg until the day before the trip, there was no option to book a car from the city to Sydney Airport.

As above, bookings for the chauffeur service in Australia (and most other destinations) can only be made at least 48 hours in advance, so despite being on a business class Flex Plus fare, we made our own way to the airport this time.

The rest of the trip ran much more smoothly, with our three other complimentary transfers – from Dubai Airport to the hotel, from the hotel back to the airport and on arrival in Brisbane – running like clockwork.

After clearing passport control on arrival in Dubai, we followed the clear signage to the Chauffeur Drive service zone, where a quick flash of our boarding pass was met with a slip of paper to hand to the driver:

Chilled bottled water is offered, and it's only a brief walk across to the pick-up area where our BMW 520i Touring was ready and waiting, with our journey to the Conrad Dubai hotel taking only 10 minutes.

On departure day, a Volvo V70 arrived to pick me up about five minutes ahead schedule – considered 'on time' for most professional drivers – and as the cars used for Chauffeur Drive in Dubai tend to feature the Emirates logo, they're easy to spot:

(If you're concerned about privacy or security, Emirates has some 'unmarked' cars in the fleet as well, which you can request on arrival at the airport, or by calling 04 214 4444 within the UAE for your transfer back to the airport.)

The driver dropped us off right outside Emirates' dedicated business class and first class check-in lobby, but as we were only flying with carry-on baggage, had completed online check-in and had a boarding pass on our phone, we walked straight through to security and passport control, and into the lounge a few minutes later.

After touching down in Brisbane and breezing through the airport formalities courtesy of an Emirates-supplied Express Path card, we exited customs, noticed a line-up of drivers with red Emirates signs over to the left-hand side, and kept walking along until we spotted our name.

Our driver Trevor took care of our carry-on baggage and led the way to his Audi A8L for the final ride home, where the back seat offered chilled bottles of water and individual temperature controls for maximum comfort.

Overall, Emirates' Chauffeur Drive service makes for an easy start or finish to your journey – creating a 'door to door' experience rather than just 'gate to gate' as with most other airlines.

However, the 48-hour advance booking window in most destinations does reduce its utility for business travellers taking last-minute journeys, and we'd love to see this pushed back to 24 hours so that more high flyers can take advantage of the service.

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Dubai as a guest of Emirates.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

21 comments

  • pdaniels62

    pdaniels62

    24 Nov, 2017 09:37 am

    I'm booked on Business Mel-CDG on a QF codeshare flying Emirates metal. I have to transfer to Orly. Does anyone know if that fits the Emirates criteria in terms of distance. My QF flight confirms I have chaffeur service ex CDG. The shortest distance is 44klms
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    24 Nov, 2017 10:36 am

    You can find a full list of the Chauffeur Drive restrictions in each city here, and a PDF of the areas Chauffeur Drive covers in Paris here, which shows you're fine to be driven from CDG to Orly (or vice versa).
    No member give thanks

  • Dave Burrows

    ConMon

    24 Nov, 2017 02:44 pm

    I used it in Dubai last year and was great. Except the poor driver took us to the business counter while I was a platinum flyer and the lady behind the counter gave him a massive serve cause I should have gone to the first counter. The funny part was there was no one else around. So what difference did it make.
    No member give thanks

  • abc

    abc

    25 Nov, 2017 09:55 am

    We just used it three times.In London from Victoria to LHR. Driver arrived 10 minutes early at 0530. In Singapore to the Sheraton. then we swapped hotels and the pick up from the Mandarin Oriental was also spot on. Its a great service.
    No member give thanks

  • pdaniels62

    pdaniels62

    27 Nov, 2017 10:57 am

    Thanks Chris for the CDG advice
    No member give thanks

  • jetsetter86

    jetsetter86

    27 Nov, 2017 04:04 pm

    On my arrival into SYD in Sept, I looked around for the Chauffer holding my name and couldn't find him. I asked the "clipboard guy" what was going on. He had my name highlighted, he said sorry we ran out of cars. #shocked. Waited 15 mins, he then asks if I'll share with someone who was going to Wooloomaloo, this was not on my way so I said no. a total of 25 mins later they arranged a car. Also, in the past had a bad experience with a driver sharing rather upsetting views on matters similar the "yes" vote

    No member give thanks

  • Brian Williams

    evilbrian

    27 Nov, 2017 04:20 pm

    Have used it about a dozen times over the years in Melbourne, Paris and London. Always been first rate with the driver invariably arriving a perfect 10-15 minutes before the booked time. I've tipped the really good ones as they're paid a flat fee regardless of the distance and time it takes, and with traffic the trip to LGW from central London in particular can be a long one.
    No member give thanks

  • BevanMcBevan

    BevanMcBevan

    27 Nov, 2017 04:51 pm

    Well done Chris. As a heads up the Volvo's in Business have gone replaced with the new BMW 520d's. Quite nice and new E Class Merc's in first. If you're IO you get the & Series.

    One more thing. The drivers in the UAE get paid bugger all. Give them a little tip and they'll sincerely appreciate it.
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    27 Nov, 2017 04:54 pm

    Emirates is certainly promoting the BMWs as being the 'business class car' for Dubai, but my pick-up in the Volvo was only two weeks ago, so they still have some non-BMWs in their business class fleet.
    No member give thanks

  • BevanMcBevan

    BevanMcBevan

    27 Nov, 2017 04:58 pm

    Ta Chris. Now the next EK investigation would be Moet. They've done one heck of a deal in Dubai - no difference in First or Business Lounge. Yes first world problems!
    No member give thanks

  • surfersimon

    surfersimon

    27 Nov, 2017 04:56 pm

    Recent flight in QF Business SYD-MEL-LHR and LHR-DXB-SYD with both Qantas and Emirates Chauffeur drive proved to be exemplary. Sydney to domestic for flight to Melbourne to catch QF9 to London driver was ten minutes early. In London off the plane and driver waiting for us at the Qantas driver check in desk. Return legs were excellent with the Dubai to Sydney leg the driver was early and the hotel staff knew he was waiting for us as everyone we came in contact with mentioned our car was waiting. Awesome service and very lucky to have enjoyed it.
    No member give thanks

  • JOHN

    jgb59

    27 Nov, 2017 05:04 pm

    I have used the service many times always on a QFF redemption flight. I was even able to use it from Bangkok airport to the city and back on a 21 hour stopover. The driver pickup area at airports are usually easy to spot and most times on the return journey to the airport they are anything up to 30 minutes early which I now allow for. One of the great benefits of flying them which Etihad have dropped except for in the UAE.
    No member give thanks

  • bl812

    bl812

    27 Nov, 2017 05:16 pm

    It's contracted out,so the quality depends which city u use them,in Adelaide regardless of first or busoness its a commodore or last time a kia mini bus,what a joke,barcelona it was a merc500,also in budapest first class,
    No member give thanks

  • GCC05

    GCC05

    27 Nov, 2017 05:34 pm

    Have used Chauffeur Drive >50 times mainly in SYD & DXB with a few at LHR & FRA. In general the service works great especially in DXB where the supply of cars is seemingly inexhaustible even at peak times. Have also had perfect service going to the airport in SYD. It's a great point of difference with so few others offering it these days.

    Not so however on landing at SYD where I fell victim to "we've run out of cars". Clipboard guy gave me the Chauffeur Drive contractor's card (name withheld to not be nasty) & was asked to catch a taxi, then email the receipt to their office for reimbursement.

    Which I did - without any response for over a month. Finally called & a helpful receptionist got things moving. The GM then emailed with an apology and compensatory offer to use them on my next (non-EK) airport transfer. All good.

    Booked everything for my JAL flight a month later with confirmation no. from the GM. But - landed from JL771 and no car. Clipboard guy confirmed the booking had been made for the wrong date! Took yet another taxi & emailed the GM but with no reply after 2 months...

    My impression is that their contractor is overstretched (echoed by several drivers), but don't really understand why when all cars are prebooked.
    Member who gave thanks

    surfersimon

  • Andrew

    EKdevotee

    27 Nov, 2017 07:08 pm

    I have used the service well over 100 times, nearly always at MEL, DXB, HAM and LHR. Never had a complaint, service is always prompt and excellent. I do get the feeling that the contractor used in Melbourne is kept very busy by Emirates but I have never ever been let down by them. Always courteous and vehicles always spotless.

    As I fly to Africa a lot, I wish there was a service at ADD, EBB and LOS also!
    No member give thanks

  • Andrew

    EKdevotee

    27 Nov, 2017 07:13 pm

    And yes I agree about tipping the EK drivers. They work long hours for not much reward. They deserve it
    No member give thanks

  • Andri Halim

    Ndr11h

    24 Apr, 2018 09:08 am

    Hi All, am travelling to BKK on EK419 which arriving early morning 1.45AM BKK time, can anyone share the experience using the chauffeur service to city centre during this time? Thanks
    No member give thanks

  • JOHN

    jgb59

    24 Apr, 2018 01:51 pm

    Hi, I am also booked on this flight next Tuesday 1/5 from Sydney and did the same flight about a year ago and the transfer worked perfectly. When you exit immigration and baggage you turn right and will come to an area roped or sectioned off with a lot of drivers with name boards which is where Emirates drivers are waiting, they just check your destination and only a short walk to the car. You must book in advance. You should note that if you have booked a return transfer back to the airport from your Bangkok hotel they always arrive earlier than the booked time anything upto about 30 minutes. Have a good trip.
    No member give thanks

  • Andri Halim

    Ndr11h

    24 Apr, 2018 02:15 pm

    Thanks jgb59.. great to hear as i’m a bit concern about the time of arrival in bkk on the early morning.. enjoy your trip too.. cheers
    No member give thanks

  • Linda Swanwick

    blondelinda

    15 Dec, 2018 12:05 am

    So which is generally the better service, a Qantas booked or Emirates booked chauffer drive?
    I can book mine through either qantas or emirates and wondering which one most of you think is the best service

    I have pick ups in MEL, CDG, FCO and DXB
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    15 Dec, 2018 12:11 am

    It’s the same thing: you’ll be picked up by the same company either way.
    No member give thanks

Guest

18 Jul, 2019 01:14 am

×
×

Forgot Password

If you’ve forgotten your password, simply enter your email address below, then click 'Submit'. We’ll send you an email to re-activate your account and enter a new password.

×

Resend activation email

If you have not received the activation email, simply enter your email address below, then click 'Submit'. We’ll send you an email containing the activation link.

×