The Airport Shuffle

If you travel by air, how do you get to and from the airport?

I mentioned in my last post that I recently had to travel interstate (to Melbourne, Australia) and then internationally (to Florida, USA). And both trips were at short notice. While I prefer to travel long distance by rail or coach, sometimes air travel is unavoidable.

And now that I am back and the dust has settled, I have been reflecting on how different people’s perspectives affect the choices they make…in this case, in doing the airport shuffle.

My perspective

The trip interstate is one I have done many times before, so I was very familiar with the way things work and options for the various elements, and I organised almost all of it myself.

Normally I have a fairly predictable routine when it comes to getting to and from the airports.

Where I live there are only two options for travelling between my house and the airport : I can travel by private car, or by taxi or limousine.

If I travel by cab, I can travel door to door without much hassle (assuming the cab turns up on time…and that there are plenty of cabs at the airport ;)).  I know that the car that is taking me runs pretty efficiently because, being a taxi, its engine is nearly always hot…and will be transporting someone back from the airport.  And my car stays at home, so passersby assume I am home.

Limousine is much the same but costs about four times as much…and is less fuel efficient because it entails a much bigger vehicle that sits around waiting a lot.

Travelling by private car means that I have to drive my own car or organise a lift with a friend.

If I drive my own car, I have to park in the airport carpark.  (This means, by the way, that the more people who drive themselves to the airport, the more land and visual space that the airport takes up to provide parking for those cars.)  Each day of parking costs about the same as the taxi fare one-way…plus I have my own car’s running costs…and my car will be travelling at least one way with a cold engine and so will use more fuel and contribute more greenhouse gas emissions than a taxi.  And passersby will know I am not home. 🙁

If I get a lift, I have to organise it…which takes time and effort!  While the transport will be essentially door to door, it means that my kind driver will be going out of their way. Whether or not they have a very efficient car, this means they will use extra fuel…which means more greenhouse gas emissions.

Weighing up all these considerations, I use a cab.  Relatively inexpensive and convenient…and much lower greenhouse gas emissions.  That’s because my drivers are sustainability of the environment and my money, and convenience.

At my destination there are many more options:

  • taxi
  • limousine
  • airport bus then train

I usually take the last option : airport bus and train.  Total travel time is about the same as by car or cab (1 hour)…but it costs much less to my hip pocket (<30% of the cost of a cab or limousine) and the environment. 🙂

The airport bus gets me to the central business district and from there I can hop on a train.

  • It costs about 1/3 of a cab fare
  • the company I use (Skybus in Melbourne) offset the CO2 produced by their low-emission buses with Greenfleet…which I also use).
  • one bus takes a fraction of the space than the equivalent number of cars of cabs transporting the same number of people…check out this photo:

Depending on where you are going, an airport bus (and there are often several options) may even get you all the way from the airport to your destination…

The train gets me from the centre of Melbourne to my usual destination…for about 1/10 the price of a cab.

Again, many places (like Sydney, Amsterdam or southeast coast of Florida) have trains that can transport you all the way from the airport.

Other perspectives

But…this time my trips were a little different.

For the Melbourne trip, I met my sisters who live overseas at the airport.  They are into luxury and low hassle.  And they have small children.

So they use limousine vans…and I caught a lift with them.  It was an experience and meant we had more chatting time than usual.  It was cheaper for me and, because they had already booked it, having me as an extra passenger meant that the trip was more efficient than it otherwise would have been…but not as efficient as if we’d all caught public transport.  (BTW, I used public transport when my children were younger too. ;))

The overseas trip was to somewhere I have never been and organised completely by someone at the other end.  They also wanted to make me feel special and reduce the hassle.

So…they organised a limousine to transport me.  The travel time was only 15 minutes longer than the Melbourne commute…but the cost differential was much more : the train from Miami airport costs <5% of a cab or limousine to my destination!

Next time you travel by air, how will you get to and from the airport? Share you thoughts in the Reply box below.

Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!