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A taste of luggage freedom with AirPortr

A taste of luggage freedom with AirPortr

I have travelled about 50 000 miles in 2015. This is quite a bit less than the year before, which was 70 000 miles. When I travel for business, I am usually carrying quite a bit of equipment. I’ve typically flown with our full Papers booth. This means one personal suitcase, and 2-3 work related items. You can get a taste for what this looks like in the pictures above. The large hockey bag houses the carpet for our booth and some miscellaneous items. The box usually travels just one way, and has all our giveaways and paperwork. Then the booth itself folds up into the black suitcase.

As you can imagine, traveling with all these items take the tube out of the equation to get to Heathrow Airport. While a taxi can seem like a comfortable option, trekking through London traffic can easily take two hours from my house. Taking the tube generally saves at least half an hour. Getting on at rush hour with luggage, even with just one suitcase, is also not a fun experience. Neither taxi or tube is a perfect solution when carrying (a lot of) baggage, which means I was really excited to try AirPortr.

Travelling without luggage

conference travel

Conference travel requires a lot of luggage.

The friendly people at AirPortr make it their business to transport your luggage through busy London traffic, so you don’t have to. I finally had an opportunity to try out the service last week, travelling home from London Heathrow. The idea is that you drop your luggage off with the AirPortr concierges at the arrivals terminal, and they make sure it reaches your destination at the time you want to receive it. In my case, the bags were on their way minutes after I dropped them off and arrived within 4 hours. Generally they do need a 5 hour window though. This leaves you bag-free, and you can explore London, take public transit to your home or hotel, or go straight into a business meeting.

The service works the other way around as well, taking your luggage from your home or hotel to the airport. At London City airport, you can even bypass the baggage reclaim and you don’t even have to collect your bags yourself.

Why would you use AirPortr

Personally, I think one of the worst parts of any long trip is making it home from Heathrow with all my bags. I hate squeezing two suitcases onto the tube (not to mention having to carry them up and down stairs at the tube stations) as much as the stop and go traffic when I opt for a taxi. Living in the east end of town means the trip home is long enough as it is, and it is much less tiring when I don’t have to carry any extra baggage. Besides this, there are so many times I’ve hauled my luggage to the office because I was going there straight after my red-eye from North America. In these scenarios I need to get a taxi twice, to get to the office and later on to get home with my bags. This can, and does, get very costly and time consuming. For myself, AirPortr already offers advantages for a variety of situations, but I can think of even more use cases:

  •  Elderly or injured travellers who cannot carry their bags up and down stairs in the tube.
  • People arriving in the early morning, who cannot check in to their hotel anyways until the afternoon, and want to do some sight seeing first, or get a meal.
  • The environmentally conscious: it is still arguably a reduction of your carbon footprint when one van carries many passenger’s bags around London, compared to each person taking a taxi separately. Particularly when you have enough luggage that taking the tube is out of the question.
  • Business travellers who need to get to meetings without the burden of their bags.
  • People in transit, arriving at one London airport and leaving from another airport for their onwards journey.
  • Anyone travelling with odd-sized or particularly large/heavy luggage that doesn’t fit into a standard taxi.

My experience using AirPortr

airports concierge heathrow airport

The booking process was incredibly easy, and took fewer steps compared to booking a pre-arranged taxi (my usual alternative). With a late afternoon arrival, the five hour window is not always possible. Delivery is possible up until 11pm, but you might not mind an overnight delivery. For now, that requires a quick call to AirPortr to sort that out. They told me that the option to choose an overnight delivery is one they will be adding to the booking process soon.

As soon as I landed, there was a text message from my dedicated AirPortr concierge letting me know they were expecting me in the arrivals area. Just minutes after getting my bags I was able to hand them over to my concierge. The text message was an extra touch I wasn’t expecting at all, and really nice to receive. Within minutes my bags were all checked in and tagged with some fancy labels!

Airportr luggage tags

My luggage with a fancy label!

luggage with zip ties

All luggage was secured with elaborate zip ties

Everything was also secured with elaborate zip ties, making it entirely impossible for anyone to open any of the bags. I was so impressed with the professionalism of everyone at AirPortr that I would never have considered even locking my suitcases. Nevertheless, it is nice to know that nobody can access any of the contents while in transit. This is just one of the examples of how much attention to detail is given.

Before long, I was on my way home on the tube, just carrying my purse. It was liberating! It was also rush hour, so not having to fight my way through with several bags was a huge relief. Being able to just leave my bags at the airport, knowing they would find their way home on their own, gave me a bigger sense of relief than I even anticipated. Over the course of the next few hours I received several text messages keeping me up to date on my luggage being on route.

Around 10:30pm, with a glass of wine in hand, I opened the front door to welcome my bags home.

How much AirPortr costs

The first bag starts at £25, to or from central London. Every additional bag (whether large or small) is a flat fee of £5. In a typical case, I travel with about 3 items. This brings it to £35. Slightly cheaper than booking a taxi to East London. While there isn’t a substantial price difference, there is a strong convenience factor of not having to drive in London traffic. Particularly during rush hour. On a day that I go by the office first, it does reduce my costs by 50%, because those days I’d need to take a taxi twice. If you are a tourist, and you have not pre-booked a car but are relying on a black cab, you are saving yourself a bundle. A black cab from Heathrow to central London runs £70 or more. From a cost perspective AirPortr is fairly competitive, but if they are able to scale their service and reduce prices even slightly, it comes an even stronger value proposition. There are already various scenarios where their pricing, as it is today, makes them the cheaper option. Money is not always the determining factor though, luggage freedom in and of itself is a wonderful thing!

All in all I was incredibly impressed with AirPortr’s professionalism, level of service, and attention to detail. Thanks so much for a smooth journey home!

airportr concierge

My wonderful AirPortr concierges checking in my luggage.

 

 


Christine Buske is a former academic who left science at the bench, and now considers herself a woman in tech. She is a frequently invited speaker, and enjoys talking about career transformation (particularly leaving academia for the business world), tech, issues around women in tech, product management, agile, and outreach. She is a proud Canadian resident, and qualifies as a "serial expat".

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  1. John Y.

    20 February

    very cool. wouldn’t use it every time, but I can definitely see it being useful in some situations.

    • Christine Buske

      22 February

      Totally! Even with one suitcase, say you’ve hurt your arm or you have stuff do to in town. Or your flight leaves later at night but you have to check out of your hotel in the morning. It’s always a pain to go back later to get your bags instead of going straight to the airport!

  2. Seli

    20 February

    This sounds like a God-sent. I had to transfer from heathrow to gatwick last year and wish I would have known about this. Next time!

  3. Carmen

    21 February

    Great post, well written. I always look forward to seeing where in the world you are now.

  4. pblondon07

    22 February

    Sounds like a great solution for airport transfers. And when you carry an entire booth (????!!!!) with you! wow… that is dedication! Why not ship that stuff?

    • Christine Buske

      22 February

      Travelling with it saves a lot in costs. It helps stretch our marketing budget. Shipping is really expensive, but then typically there is a cost as well to receive it on the other end (at the convention center). Carrying it as extra luggage is substantially cheaper, particularly when you can take some extra pieces because of having silver/gold frequent flyer status.

  5. davidlovinglondon

    22 February

    I have a confession to make. I saw the booth at LCY and thought “that’s so silly”, but I get it now. I’ll admit that I’d use it too in the cases you’re describing.

  6. Delmar Leberman

    12 March

    Heathrow’s goal is to provide the world’s best airport service and we are delighted to be working with AirPortr to offer our passengers this quick, easy and convenient way to travel

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