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1 October 2020

How to save on airport transfers

There's no point bagging a cheap flight only to be fleeced by the taxi driver at the airport. From shared shuttles to handy apps, we help you get a cheaper ride to your destination
Taxi at airport terminal 485485

Stepping off the plane without a plan for how to get to your holiday accommodation makes you a prime candidate for getting ripped off, before your holiday has even started. 

Our six handy tips will help you avoid the scams, save you money, and even get you to your destination quicker.

1. Use comparison sites

Skyscanner provides pre-book prices of private cabs, shared shuttle buses and coaches (the option is under the 'car hire' tab), as does HolidayTaxis and Hoppa.

Type in details of your arrival airport, destination, date, time and party size, and you’ll be given a list of what’s available. Using Skyscanner, we saved €31 on the standard price (€104) of a taxi from Malaga Airport to our hotel in Estepona. We could have slashed another €29 off the bill if we were prepared to take the shared shuttle.

Read all the booking information carefully, as there can be extra charges for luggage.

Not sure which comparison site you can trust? Check our reviews of the best and worst travel comparison websites

2. Share a shuttle bus

Useful even if you’re travelling alone. Shared shuttles might mean the transfer will take a little longer, as there are several drop-offs, but the bargain price usually makes it worthwhile. 

For example, we saved $30 when we bought a single fare on the shuttle bus, instead of taking the $52 flat-rate taxi, from New York’s JFK airport to our Manhattan hotel. 

The airport website will often have a list of the shared shuttles available.

3. Use a taxi app

Taxi apps operate in more than 60 countries and 400 cities. Uber is the best-known, although Lyft and Free Now are also popular.

Each platform will find the closest car to your pick-up location, and display the driver’s photo and licence plate number. It will also charge your bank card for the journey, so there’s no need to worry about currency. Nor do you need to book ahead – the app will work on your phone at your destination, just like at home. 

We found Uber to be cheapest. It quoted us €49 to €63 from Nice Airport to Cannes, compared with €80 in a taxi. However, price isn’t everything when choosing the right app. Uber has been criticised for not paying VAT on fares, and for the pay and conditions of drivers. You might choose to pay a bit more to a rival firm with practices you agree with.

4. Check if car hire is cheaper

You might not have given any thought to hiring a car at your destination, but it could be more economical in the long run.

Of course, petrol would be an additional expense – but if you’re also planning day trips, you will definitely end up better off.

Avoid the car hire cowboys. Find out the companies we recommend: best and worst car hire companies

5. Make sure the taxi won't rip you off

Don’t have an app or want to share a shuttle? Then make sure you don’t pay more than you need to at the airport taxi rank. Do your research beforehand. Some airport websites, such as Hong Kong’s and Sydney’s, will provide you with a list of prices to popular destinations in the city. That will make it easier to agree a fare with the driver. 

Also make sure that you have local currency in small denominations so you don’t get overcharged if the driver claims that they have no change.

Not sure how much to tip your taxi driver? Check our guide to tipping abroad

6. Use public transport

Don’t dismiss hopping on a bus or train, especially if you’re travelling light. You’d expect public transport to be the cheapest transfer option from the airport, but it’s also often fastest. 

We've crunched the numbers and the journey durations in five popular European cities (see table, below) and found you’d be better off on the train in Barcelona, Rome and Paris.

Taxi Vs Public Transport

What's the quickest way from the airport to the city centre? You might be surprised...
Transport Amsterdam Schiphol

(10 miles to centre)
Barcelona El Prat

(9 miles to centre)
Dublin

(6 miles to centre)

Paris Charles de Gaulle 

(21 miles to centre)

Rome Fiumicino

(
19 miles to centre)

Taxi

€39

15 mins
€25-€30

25-30 mins
€25

20 mins
€50-€55

30-45 mins

€48

40 mins

Train

€5.50

17 mins 

(NS Sprinter)

€4.20

20 mins 

(Rodalies train)

n/a

€11.40

25 mins 

(RER train)

€14

32 mins

(Leonardo Express)

Bus

€6.50

30 mins 

(Airport Express)

€5.90

35 mins 

(Aerobus)

€7

30 mins 

(Airlink Express)

€12.50

75 mins 

(Roissybus)

€6

60 mins

(SIT bus shuttle)