App Survivor: Millennial Edition

Lexi Tucker
Posted on November 28, 2016

I wish I looked this cute in the airport at 4am...(Photo via Pixabay user quinntheislander)
I wish I looked this cute in the airport at 4am...(Photo via Pixabay user quinntheislander)
Now that I’m 100% recovered from LCT East (fun, wasn’t it?), I get to blog about my experiences using app-based transportation to and from the airport. I used two different services: asterRIDE to get from my house in Torrance, Calif. to LAX, and UberBLACK to get from the airport back home. Before you freak out and ban me from the livery world, let me explain.

asterRIDE makes use of a professional chauffeur network, so it’s not really a TNC. According to its website, the operators it uses are “industry leaders of limousine, black car, and livery service. Every chauffeur is licensed in the cities they operate, holds commercial insurance, and are properly background checked. Each chauffeur is personally screened by our operators.”

UberBLACK is actually what the transportation network company originated as. Drivers for this service must have commercial licensing and registration, as well as their own luxury vehicles. Those vehicles must be MY 2013 or newer and have a TCP permit and city-specific airport permit (where required). It’s not unheard of for luxury ground transportation companies to sign up to drive for the service to fill dead time.

So let’s compare, shall we?

asterRIDE

I also wish I looked this cool heading to the airport at 4am...(Photo via Cadillac)
I also wish I looked this cool heading to the airport at 4am...(Photo via Cadillac)
I was up at 3:15 am anticipating a 4:00 am pick up. I had pre-booked my ride about a day before, and received a confirmation email with a price quote of $80. I only live about eight miles from the airport, so I was glad my company was paying for this. It’s definitely too expensive for my Millennial blood.

When I finished getting dressed, I walked out to my front room to do one last luggage check to make sure I had everything I needed. A light outside caught my eye, and low and behold, my ride was here about 30 minutes early. I know it’s typical for chauffeurs to be ready and waiting before the designated pick up time, but if I’m being honest, I felt rushed more than anything. It might have been a better idea for her to park and turn the headlights off.

As I walked outside with luggage in tow, I’m not going to lie: I expected her to come up to my porch and help me. Maybe I’m starting to get spoiled by writing about this industry, but I’m pretty sure she was supposed to at least make an effort to give me a hand. Instead, she waited until I made it down to the driveway. She did have the car door open for me, so I hopped inside.

As I got situated, I noticed the Cadillac insignia on the steering wheel. It didn’t look new enough to be a CT6, so I silently guessed it was an XTS. On our way to the airport, I decided to test her livery knowledge. “This is a nice sedan,” I said. “What model is it?” She chuckled and said “I don’t know.” I have to admit, I was a little flabbergasted.

When she asked me what terminal I was headed to, it suddenly struck me as odd that the app didn’t ask me this ahead of time. To my knowledge, American Airlines was Terminal 4, so that’s what I told her. We arrived, and she opened my door for me before retrieving my luggage. I tipped her and was on my way. Little did I know, my flight was waiting for me at Terminal 6. It was time for me to get some exercise in…

Pros:

  • Early
  • Pleasant chauffeur who didn’t speak unless spoken to
  • Water stocked
  • Convenient to book and pay

Cons:

  • Lack of general knowledge
  • Wasn’t sure what terminal I should be dropped off at
  • Expensive in relation to distance
  • Not particularly helpful with luggage

UberBLACK

The LCT team’s flight landed back in Los Angeles at around 9 p.m., and I was very excited to be home. We grabbed our bags and walked out of the airport as I ordered my ride through the Uber app. About two minutes after booking my ride, I got a call. My driver had a very thick accent so it was difficult to determine what he was saying, but I believe he was asking me if I had ordered a ride and was waiting for him by the correct exit. I confirmed this information for him and hung up.

About five minutes later, I saw a Chevrolet Suburban with the designated license plate pull up next to the curb in a no parking zone. The driver hurried around to the back, practically yanked my luggage from me and said, “We have to hurry, I’m not supposed to stop here.” Ok…

With the text alert this guy had, he might as well have picked me up looking like this (Photo via Flickr user John Fisher ARPS)
With the text alert this guy had, he might as well have picked me up looking like this (Photo via Flickr user John Fisher ARPS)
As we began our journey, he asked me if I’d like for him to turn the AC up. It was a comfortable temperature, so I declined. Our drive down the 405 was punctuated by his loud clown horn text alert, and I could see him constantly checking his messages on his phone attached to the dash while he drove. Not gonna lie: I was starting to get nervous, so I sent tracking information to my boyfriend who was waiting for me at home.

Suddenly, traffic began to slow. This is not unusual for every Southern Californian’s favorite stretch of freeway. It soon became apparent there had been a four-car accident. Out of nowhere, my driver exclaimed, “I bet you it was a Chinese guy!” At this point, I was wondering if it would be better to just get out and walk.

Luckily we began to speed up and he took the correct exit. As we waited at the stoplight, he breeched the subject everyone wants to talk about at 10 o’clock at night with a complete stranger: The result of the presidential election. For the next five minutes, he went on a tirade about what a dirty liar he thought Hillary Clinton was and how Trump might actually be able to get things done.

Finally, I saw the welcoming porch light of my home. He parked the vehicle, and I opened my own door. It was pretty dark out, and I saw something white on the floor. Assuming it was my receipt from dinner at the airport in Philadelphia that had fallen out of my pocket, I grabbed it. As I said goodbye and walked up my driveway, I learned it was a used tissue. Man it was good to be home.

Pros:

  • Quick and easy to book
  • Price is significantly lower than traditional black car service (this particular ride cost me $48)
  • That’s about it

Cons:

  • Where do I even begin?

Lessons Learned

Better technology doesn’t always mean better service. Tech is only one piece of the bigger picture. When someone pays a decent amount to get from point A to point B, it should be all-inclusive: A knowledgeable and courteous chauffeur, immaculate vehicle, and efficient booking capabilities.

Related Topics: airports, AsterRide, Atlantic city, business travel, Cadillac, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet, Chevrolet Suburban, corporate travel, Harrah's, LCT-NLA Show East, Lexi Tucker, Millennials, Think Fast Blog, TNCs, Uber

Lexi Tucker Associate Editor
Comments ( 0 )
More Stories
Article

Among The Leaders At The LCT Summit

AUG. LCT: The top operators in the luxury transportation industry who attended this year’s exclusive annual executive conference offer some best practices that can work in your operation.