Which airlines offer a first class, business class chauffeur service?

Which airlines offer a first class, business class chauffeur service?

When you’re jetting off on an overseas business trip the last thing you need is the headache of organising airport transfers – especially once you arrive at the end of your flight.

Thankfully, a handful of airlines offer a chauffeured car before and after your business class or first class flight to make the journey more stress-free.

At least eight airlines flying to Australia currently include a chauffeur service for premium passengers - here's how we rank them.

Emirates

With a wide network from Dubai and complimentary transfers available at the majority of those destinations for business and first class passengers, Emirates' chauffeur drive easily tops the list for most accessible service.

Point-based reward tickets are also eligible, although only if the flight has been booked using Emirates' own Skywards Miles and Qantas Points, although not those of other partner airlines. 

Even passengers on the direct flights between Australia and Asia, such as Melbourne to Singapore, can expect a chauffeur pick-up when booked on the EK flight number (but not the QF codeshare).

The only exclusions are itineraries with purely short flights outside of Dubai such as Australia to New Zealand and Hong Kong to Bangkok. Note that in Hong Kong, only first class passengers are eligible for chauffeur drive.

In Dubai, travellers can be whisked away in a BMW 520i Touring, with a Mercedes-Benz V class for group bookings. Everywhere else, the service is contracted to other providers with their own selection of vehicles.

In Australia, a limit of two passengers and two pieces of checked luggage per car applies – but each eligible passenger is entitled to one car on their own, so you could order multiple cars for a group if necessary.

Read: Emirates chauffeur drive review

Qantas

There was much fanfare when Qantas launched its own chauffeur drive service for business and first class in 2013 as part of the Qantas/Emirates alliance, encompassing many long-distance routes.

Sadly, this has been pared back and is now open only to passengers travelling between Australia and London on the following flights (booked through either Qantas or Emirates):

  • Sydney-London (via Singapore): QF1 and QF2
  • Singapore-London: QF1 and QF2
  • Melbourne-London (via Perth): QF9 and QF10
  • Perth-London: QF9 and QF10 

Those starting from Sydney or Melbourne (or heading back from London) have to be booked all the way to London on one sector to be eligible – that means no stopovers in Singapore or Perth.

Naturally, there’s no chauffeur service if you’re darting solely between Sydney and Singapore or Melbourne and  Perth (on QF1/QF2 and QF9/QF10, respectively).

Qantas will offer you a chauffeured car before your domestic or trans-Tasman flight if you are connecting onto one of the eligible international services to London.

Apart from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, this is available from Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.

That short leg doesn’t have to be in business class, however it does need to be booked on the same ticket as your eligible international flight to/from London.

Qantas' terms and conditions state that the transit time between those two flights has to be between 6-24 hours, so if there are only three hours between flights you won't qualify for a chauffeur drive booking beforehand.

However, a Qantas spokesperson confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that passengers with a domestic-to-international connection of 6-24 hours will be eligible for chauffeur drive at their home port and at the transit point, which would come in handy for overnight transfers to a hotel and back.

Virgin Australia

A complimentary limousine service is offered to business class travellers on Virgin Australia flights bound for Los Angeles, or with Etihad to Abu Dhabi when booked through the VA codeshare and travelling in first or business class.

However, in both cases those must be paid tickets – Velocity reward bookings are excluded – and only on the more expensive business class fares. 

On Virgin's Los Angeles flights, Business Saver fares (ticketed as D and I fare types) are ineligible for that limo ride; Virgin's codeshare flights with Etihad to Abu Dhabi see the chauffeur service covering most Business Saver fares but for the least-expensive I-class Business Saver bookings.

This service is also available from domestic capital cities when connecting to or from the eligible international long-haul flight when booked on the same ticket.

While there is a mileage limit of 60km in Australia and 50 miles in the USA, if two or more eligible guests travel together in the same vehicle in Australia or the United States, the complimentary distance can be extended at the discretion of the limousine service operator.

Air China

Heading from Sydney or Melbourne with Air China? A chauffeured transfer for business and first class passengers (but not reward bookings) is included for Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongquin, Nanjing and Hangzhou.

If you're connecting between international and domestic Air China flights in Shanghai, have a transit time above five hours and need to transfer between Pudong and Hongqiao airports, you can request a chauffeur car to take you between those two airports.

PhoenixMiles Platinum members in first or business class will qualify for the service even if they're on a codeshare flight, while PhoenixMiles Gold members and above can request a transfer on most Air China regional and domestic flights as well when travelling in business class.

Hainan Airlines

A limousine airport transfer service is offered to business class guests on any fare except for reward bookings and the lowest priced R fare type. Hainan Airlines operates from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and Auckland.

Eligible passengers can request a transfer at both ends of their journey in theory, however, there is no coverage in Australia or NZ. A chauffeured car can be organised in Xi'An, Shenzhen, Changsha and Haikou, or further afield when connecting on Hainan-operated domestic routes to cities such as Shanghai, Chongqing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Hangzhou. The service is also offered at their destinations within the USA and Europe.

Bookings can be made from 30 days up to 24 hours before the flight, by emailing limo@hnair.com.

China Eastern

A relatively new entrant on this list, China Eastern began offering a limousine service at the start of 2018. It covers Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as China Eastern's primary China destinations of Shanghai and Beijing.

Passengers must hold a paid business or first class ticket issued by China Eastern on flights from Australia to China - it specifically excludes other codeshares including through Qantas, while reward tickets are ineligible.

There are a number of caveats to be aware of – the booking is valid only for one car journey per sector, it needs to be booked seven days in advance and there is a $150 fee for changes once booked.

British Airways

The guest list for British Airways’ complimentary limousine transfer is very tight - you must hold a confirmed, return first class ticket from Sydney to London (via Singapore) on BA15 and BA16. Only paid fares will have access - reward tickets are exempt.

If you tick all those boxes, then you’ll enjoy a complimentary limousine transfer in a Jaguar to and from Sydney Airport, although transfers to and from London Heathrow airport are not included.

Etihad Airways

Etihad's network-wide complimentary transfers were scrapped in July 2017, with a slimmed-down offering now available only in Etihad's home port of Abu Dhabi for first class and business class, although the least-expensive Business Saver fares are excluded, as are reward tickets.

If you are having a stopover in the United Arab Emirates, then you’ll be able to use Etihad’s chauffeur service to go anywhere within the UAE.

The only exception to the rules above are well-heeled high flyers in Etihad's Airbus A380 Residence, who will – as one would expect – continue to enjoy a complimentary ride at both ends of their journey. 

How to securing your chauffeur drive booking

If you fulfil the criteria for an airline’s chauffeur service, head to its website for instructions on how to book the transfer - in some cases there will be a button on the Manage Booking page, in other cases you may need to send your details to an email address or through a web form.

Most services need to be booked at least 48 hours in advance, especially when departing Australia. If you are trying to upgrade to business class on Qantas or Emirates and it is only confirmed with less than 48 hours to go, you may be unable to book a chauffeur transfer prior to that leg.

That said, if you’re arriving in Dubai and haven't yet arranged your chauffeur booking you can still head to Emirates' service desk and request one if you’re eligible.

Brandon Loo

Brandon Loo

Brandon divides his time between Perth and Launceston, with ample hours spent in airport lounges in between. He recently picked up photography and tries to capture the beauty of Tasmanian landscapes, aeroplane cabins and in-flight food, to varying degrees of success.
 

16 comments

  • russell

    russell

    23 Aug, 2018 06:42 am

    Regarding Emirates, also no availability for chauffeur drive ex Denpasar
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  • Bob Burgess

    Bob Burgess

    23 Aug, 2018 01:27 pm

    A very good article summarising the airlines and how their chauffeur services differ. I think it's a bit cheap of an airline to not allow a chauffeur if you have booked a reward seat because you flew with them a lot to earn those points! Also there can be flexibility in making a late chauffeur booking. Last month I flew first class with Qantas and it was only while I was on the way from Singapore to London that I realised I had forgotten to book my London chauffeur. I mentioned this to the FA and she took down my the details and went off and booked it via telex in the middle of the flight, came back with the telex print-out with confirmation details. I think being a first class passenger helped!
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  • 346

    346

    23 Aug, 2018 02:57 pm

    Ye definitely, I tried the same thing in economy once, Didn't work.
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  • Bob Burgess

    Bob Burgess

    23 Aug, 2018 03:25 pm

    Yes, on the flight from London back to Sydney I was in business class and had again forgotten to book the chauffeur from SYD to my home, I asked the FA if she could book it but she said they couldn't, so 'in the air chauffeur bookings' are obviously a perk of being in first class!
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  • New Mint

    New Mint

    23 Aug, 2018 02:51 pm

    Good article. Pretty sure Hainan Airlines offer this service to Business Class passengers also
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  • Brandon Loo

    Brandon Loo

    23 Aug, 2018 03:52 pm

    Thanks for that, article updated :)
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  • Dredgy

    Dredgy

    23 Aug, 2018 04:18 pm

    A good article, I wish this was publicized by the airlines :P I paid a ridiculous amount for a Didi in Shenzhen after arriving in Hainan on a business class flight.

    RE: China Eastern, I did know that they offered a Chaffeur service, but I was disappointed when they refused my booking because I "have a Hainan airlines flight on the same ticket". I didn't argue the point considering how cheap the subway is in Shanghai, but I was on a full-fare, full-flex business class ticket PEK->PVG->BNE.
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  • B B

    boghraty

    23 Aug, 2018 05:01 pm

    Re: Emirates, I booked a reward flight from DXB-CPT last year and got chauffeur service at both ends. I just had to then go through the Emirates website to book the chauffeur service once I'd booked the actual reward flights through QANTAS. Very painless. Unless the rules have changed in the last 12 months?
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  • Beth

    Beth

    23 Aug, 2018 07:35 pm

    ALL the Airlines Specially in Australia do not have their own operated chauffeurs. Instead they use a number of limousine companies disguised as directly belonging to the airline. The trouble with this is (coming from the employees who have driven me a number of times) many of these companies have very high turn over of staffing being the result of working conditions and pay. This then translates to irregular service, lack of consistency and lack of professionalism.
    I used to fly on Emirates almost fortnightly out of Brisbane and Melbourne. Till the company which starts with an “L” forgot to pick me up several times. I stopped using Emirates and started flying with Etihad ... guess what... I had the same driver with the Etihad Service. It wasn’t long before once again they forgot to pick me up. Now, even though I’m entitled to a free chauffeur service when I use Emirates, I choose not to. I found a limousine company with reliable, honest and professional chauffeurs. For all out there who may have experienced the same I’d definitely recommend you try First Class Transfers Australia (www.firstclasstransfers.com).
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  • cgm

    cgm

    23 Aug, 2018 07:38 pm

    I'm wondering if it is customary to tip the drivers of chauffeur drive vehicles?
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  • Beth

    Beth

    23 Aug, 2018 08:41 pm

    I think it depends on the location. For instance in Dubai, even though I did, I didn’t feel it was customary. However in some parts of Europe and America it was very much expected. I made it a habit to tip all good service.
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  • cgm

    cgm

    23 Aug, 2018 09:16 pm

    An Emirates chauffeur drive I had from Copenhagen airport recently turned out to be just an ordinary taxi that had been assigned to me.
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  • Beth

    Beth

    23 Aug, 2018 09:31 pm

    That’s what I was meaning , the limousine company would of ordered the taxi.
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  • Henry  Private

    longwayaway

    24 Aug, 2018 04:10 pm

    Emrats refused their chauffeured car service to me three years running. Reason? The Comfort (Baladins) Hotel Airport CDG was too close to the airport.

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  • JOHN

    jgb59

    25 Aug, 2018 03:17 pm

    Just had a return trip to Europe with Emirates on Qantas points and chauffeur offered at all points, stopover in Bangkok both ways which was great when arriving from Sydney at 2am, on arrival in Paris and departing from Amsterdam and even had the option on 9 hour or so layover in Sydney from the Gold Coast of a chauffeur to Sydney airport so I could have gone onto the city and then used it to get back to the airport. I just hope Emirates doesn't cut it out like Etihad.
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  • Sophia Pasquarelli

    spasquarelli

    26 Aug, 2018 09:34 am

    Thanks for the great article. It made me go back and look at my QF9 booking in May next year. Leaving from BNE QF615 10:00 to connect with QF9, returning to BNE QF2/QF52 and all cars now booked. These were not available when I booked the flight in June. Not sure if I was trying too early or there has been changes/update. Either way a very happy traveller.
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Guest

22 Nov, 2018 01:42 am

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