HLO Day 22: Why Airport Shuttles Bite

HLO Day 22: Why Airport Shuttles Bite

When I wrote up Lifehacker’s guide to capital city airport transfer options earlier this week, I deliberately avoided door-to-door shuttle services when there was a regularly scheduled public transport option. Today I remembered one reason why: because sometimes they just don’t show up.

I’d booked the Alice Springs Airport Shuttle to pick me up at 0825 this morning, and was waiting at reception at 0815. At 0845, there was still no sign of the bus. Reception called the bus company, which confirmed that said shuttle had already headed to the airport, having decided to simply ignore my booking. I was already nervous about getting an 0825 bus for a 1000 flight to Perth; at this stage I was seriously stressed.

The receptionist, however, cheerfully agreed to throw me the $30 for a taxi fare (“the shuttle company will pay us back”) and called a taxi. Her attitude suggested that this was not the first time this had happened.

Alice Springs airport is only a 10-minute drive and, as my taxi driver pointed out, traffic jams only happen when the creek is in full flow, so I got to the airport with time to spare. But I’m still glad that there’s no airport shuttles left on the rest of the itinerary.

Throughout May 2009, Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman will be travelling throughout Australia with just one carry-on bag for the Hand Luggage Only project.


  • I am about to board a flight into Alice Springs in about 30 minute (big ups to Internode for supplying FREE internet access to anyone at Darwin Airport!). I actually had plans to catch a Shuttle during my weekend business trip, have since found an alternative thanks Angus!

    I’ll expect a bit of a difference in the public transport than that provided to me on a recent trip to Brisbane.


  • I wish you’d done a train comparison Angus – if only to highlight the vast inadequacy of Melbourne’s transport links with our airport.

    Since Transurban built their Citylink road system (with a 35 year agreement that they will have no competition from trains), we are stuck with taxis (>$45 to the city) or the shuttle bus.

    It’s terribly poor form and vastly different from just about every decent-sized city in the developed world!

  • Bad weather forced me and my family to stopover at Miami a couple of years ago. At 10.45pm we booked by phone a local hotel from some list we found at the mostly-closed airport. A regular shuttle would collect us. An hour later, still no shuttle for our hotel, although dozens of other shuttles passed by. We phoned back and the booking service acknowledged that the shuttle service had stopped earlier. It is a particularly depressing feeling when you realise that, for the bored and tired person who accepted your phone booking, a half hour is just a mouthful of words but to you it is the reality that prevents you getting to your hotel until 2.30am (by us$50 worth of taxi).

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