Are you planning a trip and wondering about the most convenient way to get from the airport to your hotel?
Many hotels offer airport shuttle services that can save you cash money but they do come with some drawbacks.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the world of hotel airport shuttle service and provide you with all the information you need to make the most of this convenient transportation option.
What are hotel airport shuttles?
Hotel airport shuttles are convenient transportation services (typically in the form of vans or minibusses) that roam the airport grounds, eagerly hunting for passengers in need of transportation to specific hotels.
These shuttles operate on specific routes, picking up passengers from designated locations at the airport and dropping them off at their respective hotels.
They (sometimes) offer a seamless and hassle-free transfer experience, ensuring that guests can easily access their accommodations upon arrival or reach the airport in a timely manner for their departure.
But the key here is “sometimes.”
Do hotels provide airport shuttle service?
Many hotels do provide airport shuttle service. However, it’s important to note that not all hotels offer this amenity, so it’s always a good idea to check with your hotel before your trip.
What hotels provide airport shuttle service?
When it comes to hotels that provide airport shuttle service, airport hotels, which are conveniently located near the airport, are the most likely to offer shuttle service.
These hotels can come from all different types of hotel brands and chains such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, etc.
Keep in mind that there are various types of airport hotels.
Some are directly located within the airport complex or terminal buildings, just steps away from the arrival and departure gates, so there’s really no need to hop on board a bus when staying at these.
However, other airport hotels are situated a short distance from the airport or a few miles away, yet they still provide airport shuttles.
Occasionally, your hotel may be located a considerable distance from the airport, yet still provide an airport shuttle bus service.
In such instances, there is a chance that you might be required to pay a fee due to the distance covered. Nevertheless, these fees are typically reasonable when compared to the cost of private transportation.
In addition to airport hotels, other properties like resorts and even boutique hotels are also known to provide shuttles from airports. Always look out for these in vacation hotspots.
It’s worth noting that shuttle service may vary in terms of frequency and operating hours, so it’s advisable to check with your hotel for specific details.
Airport shuttles provided by hotels can also vary in terms of their operating hours.
While some shuttles operate 24 hours a day, ensuring round-the-clock availability, others may have limited hours of operation. Those that limit hours may offer shuttle service aligned with common flight arrival and departure times.
On occasion, you may have to request a shuttle yourself during off hours.
How to Book Airport Shuttle Service
Booking airport shuttle service at your hotel is typically a straightforward process.
Here are a few steps to follow:
Check the hotel’s website
Start by visiting the hotel’s official website and look for information about airport shuttle service. Many hotels provide details about their shuttle service, including schedules, pickup locations, and any associated fees.
Other times, this information could be somewhere in your booking confirmation emails.
Contact the hotel
If you’re feeling lost on the hotel website, don’t be shy to contact them directly.
The front desk or concierge staff will be able to assist you with any questions you may have and help you book the shuttle service, although many times they may just tell you where you need to wait in order to board the shuttle bus.
Make sure that you ask them what the shuttle bus looks like because sometimes the shuttle bus does not contain obvious branding on it. You don’t want to accidentally board a disguised ice cream truck (or maybe you do) ;).
Provide your flight details
When booking a shuttle service reservation, you’ll probably need to provide flight information like arrival and departure times.
This will help the hotel coordinate the shuttle schedule and ensure a smooth transfer to and from the airport.
If you’re coming in on one of the last flights of the night then a good hotel should postpone the shuttle service so that it is properly timed with your flight.
Confirm your reservation
It’s always a good idea to double-check your shuttle reservation a day or two before your arrival. This will help avoid any misunderstandings and give you peace of mind.
Be aware that some hotels have a special phone number you can dial to inquire about the shuttle service. They may provide you with automated messages regarding the latest status of the hotel shuttle and give you details on things the routes, stops, and operating hours.
How does the cost of airport shuttle service compare to other forms of transportation?
When considering transportation options from the airport to your hotel, cost is often a significant factor.
Hotel airport shuttle service can be a cost-effective option, especially if the shuttle service is provided at no extra charge for hotel guests.
However, it’s important to note that some hotels may charge a nominal fee for the shuttle service, so it’s essential to inquire about any associated costs when making your reservation. (Sometimes, it might be factored into the resort fee.)
Comparing the cost of hotel airport shuttle service to other forms of transportation, such as taxis or ride-sharing services, can help you make an informed decision.
Typically, a shuttle service is going to be the most economical because it’s often free or at least much cheaper than a taxi or rideshare.
However, the lower cost of a shuttle does come with some drawbacks.
It could take longer than using a taxi or rideshare
The first drawback is that it’s often going to take longer to get to your hotel or to the airport than it would if you were using something like a taxi or Uber.
Some shuttle busses like to make a grand tour, stopping at every possible hotel along the way. If you were one of the last properties to get dropped off at, it might feel like you were on something of a sightseeing tour!
Then there’s the classic case of the bus running fashionably late, and you never know when that can happen.
And let’s not forget the situations where a bus picks up passengers from multiple points. In these instances, the bus can quickly transform into a can of sardines before it even reaches your stop.
To maximize your chances of a smooth getaway, position yourself strategically at the stop nearest the shuttle bus lane entrance. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than getting skipped by a shuttle bus that won’t be returning until another 20 minutes!
Luggage issues can become a problem
If you have a lot of luggage with you, shuttle buses can sometimes be problematic. One issue is that if there are many other passengers on the bus vying for precious storage space, you may not have enough room for all your luggage.
Typically, you will find some racks inside the bus where you can place your luggage and sometimes there is a spacious storage area in the back.
However, if you are traveling with excessive luggage, there is no guarantee you will have enough space, and you might be subjected to a quick and stressful game of Tetris, where the consequences of failing include a bus full of scowling faces.
In some cases, if you have heavy luggage, the driver may assist you in storing it (in which case you should tip), but this is not always the case.
Consider using the shuttle for one-way and private transportation for the other
If you’re torn between the luxury of private transportation and the allure of shuttle bus savings, why not find a middle ground?
On your arrival day, splurge on a private ride from the airport to your hotel, because that is when you will be the most tired and then the other passengers will be the stinkiest.
On the way back to the airport, people tend to be more refreshed, and you’ll be less exhausted, ready to tackle any delays.
Remember to have good etiquette
When you arrive on an airport shuttle bus, try to do the following:
- Avoid sitting next to other passengers if there are other open seats
- Avoid placing your luggage on top of other bags unless absolutely necessary
- Hold on to poles or cables if standing so that you don’t fall into the lap of a stranger
- Offer a helping hand if someone frail is struggling with luggage
- Avoid sitting in the seats for those with disabilities unless you need them or are sure you’re not taking a seat from someone who needs it
- Put your personal item in your lap so that the aisle stays clear
Hotel airport shuttle service offers a convenient and often cost-effective transportation option for travelers. Many hotels provide this service, making it easier for guests to reach their accommodations. But it’s always good to think through the savings and conveniences offered so that your travels are not made more miserable than they need to be.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.