Qantas: Chauffeur Drive service for first and Business Axed
This free service originally started when Qantas nixed most of its international routes, and teamed up with Emirates to deliver most of its passengers to London via Dubai, way back in April 2013.
With the partnership, Qantas and Emirates needed to match each other’s service levels to make the relationship work for customers. One of the changes required was the introduction of a ‘free’ Chauffeur Drive service for first and Business class passengers. I’ve only used the service on two trips, one between London and Sydney via Dubai on Qantas, and once between Sydney and Bangkok on Emirates, one of their fifth freedom flights.
Both experiences were excellent, including the service in London, where because there were two of us travelling, there were two Mercedes and drivers waiting for us. Once it was established that our luggage and us could fit in one car, the 2nd car was repurposed.
The service will stop for all intents and purposes on 30 April 2020.
Chauffeur Drive was originally offered to premium passengers travelling to Dubai, London, and destinations in the USA. It didn’t take long for this service to be scaled back to only the London route, with a limit to the destination distance of 80km (50 miles).
From 15 April 2020, Qantas will no longer be offering its complimentary Chauffeur Drive service on flights between Australia and London. This also applies if you have booked an eligible flight with a Qantas flight number that is operated by Emirates.
Existing Chauffeur Drive bookings made on or before 15 April 2020 for travel through to 30 April 2021 won’t be impacted.
If you have not confirmed your Chauffeur Drive service, you can still book your complimentary Chauffeur Drive before 15 April through Manage Your Booking, for upcoming travel through to 30 April 2021.Qantas email to Premium passengers
You would book the service online, or you would be contacted by the Qantas preferred supplier. Online there were limitations, as you could only book (from memory) at half-hour intervals, although when you were called, you could usually negotiate this down to whatever time was convenient for you.
The actual service was excellent, both in Sydney and at the destination, in my case London and Bangkok
I received an email notification about this for a June flight on Emirates booked through Qantas. Interestingly enough, by the time I received the email, the flight had already been removed from my Itinerary.
A free car service is a rarity with airlines who run premium services. Most who did have it, (example, Etihad) have abandoned it in recent years. So to that extent, this move by Qantas is not surprising.
On the other hand, Qantas does tend to charge top dollar for its premium cabins, so I would have thought this was an enticing perk to that segment of their market. Maybe not enough to alter a purchasing decision?
We tend to book a car service on arrival to most long haul destinations, so with the Chauffeur Drive service being ‘free’ especially on points tickets, this service will be missed.