Airlines Offering Complimentary Chauffeur On Award Tickets

While I suppose it shouldn’t sway the decision as to which airline you fly, one cool perk offered by some airlines is complimentary chauffeur service for premium cabin passengers. Over a dozen airlines offer this in some capacity, though there are only a few that offer chauffeur service even on award tickets, so I figured I’d write a brief post covering those airlines.

Emirates chauffeur service

Emirates offers complimentary chauffeur service for first and business class passengers in over 55 cities around the world.

  • The service must be requested 48 hours in advance, and can be done either online or over the phone.
  • Car service is offered on both arrival and departure.
  • For example, Alaska allows one-way awards on Emirates with stopovers, so if you fly from New York to Dubai, stopover, and then Dubai to Singapore, you can have four chauffeur services (one in New York, two in Dubai, and one in Singapore).

Perhaps their coolest chauffeur service of all is in Venice, where Emirates offers first and business class passengers motor boat transfers.

Emirates-Chauffeur
Emirates first class chauffeur service in Dubai

Qantas chauffeur service

Qantas started offering chauffeur service after they launched their joint venture with Emirates in an effort to streamline the experience for Emirates and Qantas passengers. Similarly, Qantas has started to serve Arabic mezze on some flights, while Emirates has started serving Qantas’ signature steak sandwich.

Qantas offers first and business class passengers complimentary chauffeur service on the following routes:

Sydney <> Dubai <> London | QF1/2
Melbourne <> Dubai <> London | QF9/10
London <> Dubai <> London | QF1/2/9/10
Sydney <> Los Angeles | QF11/12/107/108
Melbourne <> Los Angeles | QF93/94
Brisbane <> Los Angeles | QF15/16
Sydney <> Dallas Fort Worth via Brisbane | QF7/8

  • The service must be requested at least 48 hours in advance, and can be done online or by phone.
  • One thing to note about Qantas’ chauffeur service is that it’s technically (per the terms & conditions) only available to passengers on Qantas “ticket stock,” meaning tickets booked through partners won’t qualify.
  • That being said, in practice those with tickets issued through other carriers (including award tickets through American) have been able to book the chauffeur service as well.

Etihad chauffeur service

Etihad offers their Diamond First and Pearl Business passengers complimentary chauffeur service at nearly 30 airports around the world. Bookings are required only 24 hours in advance, and can be made online or by phone.

Etihad-Chauffeur
Etihad chauffeur desk in Abu Dhabi

Air Berlin chauffeur service

Due to their partnership with Etihad, Air Berlin offers complimentary chauffeur service on flights to/from Abu Dhabi. The chauffeur service is available both on arrival and departure, and award passengers are eligible. The service must be booked by phone at least 24 hours in advance.

Virgin Atlantic chauffeur service — additional miles required

Virgin Atlantic only offers chauffeur service to their full fare Upper Class passengers (those booked in the J, D, or C fare buckets). The only reason I’m mentioning them is because if you’re not otherwise eligible they let you redeem Flying Club miles for a car transfer, and I get frequent questions as to whether or not that’s a good value.

That being said, the cost is rather prohibitive at 17,500 miles one-way:

Virgin-Atlantic-Chauffeur

If you want a chauffeur service in London it’s tough to beat Uber’s flat rate from Heathrow Airport.

Bottom line

Complimentary chauffeur service is a neat perk, and it’s especially nice when airlines extend the benefits to premium cabin award passengers. Over the years these services have saved me a good amount of money, so it’s something to keep in mind when you’re planning your travel!

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  1. Etihad will actually let you take a car on arrival in Abu Dhabi with no reservation on an as-available basis. If you don’t have an advance reservation you may need to wait in the lounge just past the limousine desk. But they do generally try to accommodate. The reservation helps you avoid this wait.

    What’s also interesting is differences in complimentary distances from these services, and ability to pay a modest upcharge for distances beyond their limit.

  2. Qantas’ offering was a bit surprising to me – we were on an AA award ticket from Munich to Sydney. As we were flying on boxing day, BA cut their flights down to two from MUC to LHR and never offered award space, meaning we had to take Air Berlin to STN and then airport transfer.

    When we booked the tickets (330 days out) no transfer was offered – either in Munich or London. A few months later I was able to log into my booking through Qantas and could request a transfer in London, which was confirmed the day before departure by phone.

    The T&C’s state they will drive you 70 miles (if I recall) while STN -> LHR is something like 65, which suggested to me this was done conciously.

    The driver met us with a S-class, making the transfer super easy. He did remark that he’s not used to picking up people at the commercial terminal, as normally people doing that transfer come in on private…

  3. I m a little surprise that the other major player in middle east dont offer this service, Qatar !!

  4. Unless things have changed, Emirates does not offer this service if you are only traveling on the flight between BKK and HKG

  5. In your opinion, what would be an appropriate tip for the drivers? Flying Qantas LAX – SYD. Would it be different for LAX driver vs SYD driver? Thanks.

  6. No reservations needed for arrivals at Dubai on Emirates. Just walk to the chauffeur drive desk and they will assign the next available car to you.

  7. I can confirm that TAM does not offer the service on J awards (as George mentions, that differs in F). Tried and tested (or rather tried and not tested)!

  8. @ Kijo — It depends where you’re coming from and how much the drive would otherwise cost, in my opinion. In the US I’d say say a $10-20 tip isn’t unreasonable. In other countries it’s probably less necessary, but still a nice gesture. I’d maybe do $10AUD in Sydney.

  9. Adding onto what @RakSiam said, EK don’t offer this service on Australia to New Zealand vv. legs. I assume they don’t offer it on most of their non-hub to non-hub short-haul legs, maybe CMB-MLE as well etc?

  10. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on which routes do you see more first class seats on for emirates?

  11. Tip a chauffeur transfer that’s part of your ticket? Heavens why! That’s like tipping a flight attendant or a check-in agent!