Booking your ride
You’re busy. You expect the limousine to be ready when your aircraft touches down and to deliver you quickly and safely to your destination. You also expect to be productive—or relaxed—en route. Here are tips for selecting a limousine company that can meet those expectations.
Talk to the FBO and check the web. The fixed-base operator—the company that fuels and stores your aircraft during your visit—most likely works with one or two limousine companies that know the airport and run safe operations. You can also check websites like FlightAware.com as well as the airport’s own site, which may list limo companies that are affiliated with or based at the facility.
Use a worldwide service. These often consist of a network of independent companies in up to 600 cities around the globe, and some are essentially just internet-based booking systems. But services that cater specifically to business aviation personally manage reservations to ensure the same high standard of service at every stop.
“Between the time that the client books his reservation and the pickup, the reservation is touched 20 times—verified, re-verified, we’ve talked to the partner office, and we’ve talked to the driver several times,” says John Villanova, president of New York–based Limousines Worldwide. “Our staff constantly communicates with the client’s office and our partners to make sure everything runs smoothly.”
If you use a company that’s affiliated with a network, find out how often its staffers visit its partner locations to inspect their facilities, vehicles, and drivers.
Make sure the operator understands business aviation. Ask how many vehicles it has based at or near the airport and whether it has “through the fence access” for airplane-side pickup. Ask, too, how much of its business it derives from private aviation customers and whether it belongs to the National Business Aviation Association or a similar regional association, such as EBAA, ASBAA, or AfBAA.
Ask about the vehicles. Does the company offer no-smoking limos? Do its vehicles have Wi-Fi capability and 110V power outlets for charging cellphones and laptops en route? If you’ll be traveling in a dangerous part of the world, will the company supply shadow cars or armored vehicles for additional safety?
Check insurance coverage. Confirm that the company has high liability insurance limits to prevent an aircraft owner from coming after you in case of accidental car/airplane contact. Also ask whether the operator carries worker’s compensation for all of its drivers, including independent contractors.
Find out what technology the company employs. Many business-aviation-oriented limo companies use flight-tracking software to monitor airplanes’ progress and make adjustments if customers will be early, late, or even diverted to another airport. Some also use GPS to track their vehicles.
In addition, many limo services offer apps similar to those employed by ride-sharing companies like Lyft and UberBlack. “It’s the way the modern world is going…Self service is service,” says Robert Alexander, president and CEO of RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation. “[Clients] are OK getting their own receipts, booking their own ride, tracking where [the car] is. Before, we had to give them all of that information. Now we just have to give them the tool to get them the information.”
Kim Rosenlof is an Arizona-based freelance writer and a longtime contributor to BJT.