Leeds Bradford Airport Taxi Tip for Transfers to other Airports

Found 12th Jan 2008
OK, not so much a bargain as a tip...

If you are unfortunate enough to need to go to Leeds Bradford Airport you should note that since the airport changed ownership it's service is all about cutting cost and maximising business revenue to the detriment of the customer. They've booted all the black and white taxi cabs off the ranks by the terminal, and instead have taken a backhander to allow a local cowboy private hire outfit to run their operation there... So first tip, it's confusing as hell because there are no taxi's any more, just a collection of the usual assortment of private hire 'sheds on wheels' driven by a salty looking array of folks who look like they just got off planes themselves. But you can't just get in one of these cars and go... in order to get round the rules in Leeds which prohibit private hire drivers from acting as taxi's or soliciting work outside premises (which is illegal) they planted an office in the terminal, so you have to go an 'pre-book' your taxi home which, they'll tell you, is 'easy and quick' but as I found, you'll be stuck in a queue with johnny foreigner trying to figure out what was wrong with having taxi ranks where ten or twenty cars at a time could all be picking up simultaneously, and the staff at the booth aren't exactly as quick on the uptake, though at least they speak better english than most of the drivers.

Anyway, here's tip number two: if you know you're going to be there and you'll need a taxi, do a search on the web, avoid the official airport one, and pre-book one of the other local firms who do much better service in some cases. There's one that's literally a half a mile from the airport, 'SJK' and though they're big, and not much better than the airport offering, they're a bit cheaper so you don't feel so bad about being driven by a non-English speaker in a scruffy avensis. Note that the airport, in order to do their deal with their 'official supplier' actually closed down general access to the front of the airport to both normal cars (joe public) and the taxis, and have made their 'provider' appear to be the only convenient transport choice. Don't believe it... it's bull... to get access to the pickup point for the 'normal' taxis, just walk about 25 yards beyond the 'Arrow' rank, and you're in what Leeds Bradford Airport laughingly calls the 'pickup spot', although they're very careful not to signpost the fact that you don't HAVE to choose their 'backhand' provider. Any other taxi/private hire firm can arrange to meet you here, so you get choice back! Hurrah for the consumer.

Now... here's the big tip! Usually, being a business traveler, I use a small local driver service which is excellent, convenient and good value. Last week I flew home early to attend a meeting from another airport in the UK, and my mobile phone was flat, so I didn't have my usual driver's number to hand. I made the unfortunate mistake of having to use the airport's 'chosen' service and it was only after I was charged more than I thought I should be that I realised what scam they're running...

The provider, 'Arrow', has two websites... one for 'regular service', the other for 'airport' service, and on the airport website, the one you'd expect to need, they promote 'what you see is what you get' pricing and NO overcharging. Don't think that they're being transparent and honest. What they mean is 'the drivers won't charge you more than we will.' But there should be a caveat added 'because we'll have already charged you more than we're worth.' If you get time to prepare before your trip, and you want to use 'Broken Arrow' as I call them now, then check out both their websites and the published list of prices... On average, a trip to Manchester Airport will cost you £18 MORE or Liverpool from the airport will cost you £30 MORE as an 'airport' service than as their 'regular' service and a trip to London will cost you generally £50 or more extra. And believe me, their 'on site' drivers, motley bunch that they are, don't do any more for you than anyone else would. Since there are laws about advertising false prices and then not honouring them, what I'd do is this... don't use the booking office at the airport (or actually, I'd wait until the booking office has a full queue and then raise it VERY loudly in front of the other customers and see what happens, if you want some fun) instead, ring their regular office (about 5 miles away) and tell them that you want a car to wherever you're going and pick one of the pre-priced airports from their regular website (or ask for a price to wherever you're going from 'Yeadon' - don't mention the airport yet!). Get your 'regular' pricing, and then at the end tell them that the address in Yeadon is 'Leeds Bradford Airport' and one of three things will happen... either they'll accept the booking and curse when you're off the phone, or they'll swallow their teeth and start trying to tell you that the price is actually more from the airport, or they'll tell you that they can't make bookings for the airport pickups and to just use the airport office to make the booking. Either way, you can get your cheaper transfer price. They might try to justify the extra cost by telling you that you can get a car without waiting at their convenient airport rank, but just tell them you're happy to walk the extra 25 yards and be picked up like everyone else. Chances are they'll either tell you to just get one of the airport cars anyway, or they'll dispatch a car from the rank to drive round and go in the normal car park to get you. But if they're not going to honour published pricing they have to explain why. One final tip, as if that wasn't enough... if they tell you that the published prices on their 'regular' website are from their office, point out that the website doesn't say that, it says 'door to door' and fails to stipulate limitations on where your door might actually be. Then you can add that since their 'offices' are only about 4-5 miles away at most, it does not justify 25% price premiums especially considering that there are more of their drivers in the airport vicinity than flies on ahem.

I was so irked that I was ripped off to such a degree, even though it was business travel, and that this company presents an appearance at the airport of being in business there because they're the most honest, the most upfront and the best service, and it's bull...

I miss the days of the taxis, because they didn't work with hype and publicity and BS, they just did a job, and everyone knew what to expect, instead of this new regime, which is all spin-based and anti-competitive for everyone else...

Hope it saves someone some grief and some money.
Community Updates
Update... I was back at the airport again today and I heard a wonderful story that highlights the point... apparently a flight was diverted from Manchester to Leeds today (usual Jet2 trick to save money and keep planes moving) and while the coaches contracted by Jet2 were on their way from Manchester, the 'chosen' private hire operator up there started just letting people know (read as 'soliciting') to do Manchester airport transfers... The people, cheesed off at having to be diverted at all, and waiting so long in the cold for coaches, started snapping up these 'taxis' to the point that there were no cars left at the airport, and were being charged up to £90 in some cases... So that's £60 list on the 'regular website', £78 list on the 'airport website' and £90 fleecing if the booking office could get it. Scam-meisters. The number of people up there complaining about the chaos and confusion and lousy service was unbelieveable. Fortunately I was outbound and not inbound, so I get to spend the evening in Madrid instead, where at least its warmer than the UK.
I would like to reply to various points raised.

Samplex: Trips to Manchester. Manchester Airport is £80. Passengers using this service on this day had been let down by Thomson holidays. I was one of them. surposed to be a coach to take me. No one on that day paid £90 to Man airport. Arrow were absolutely fantastic. They even organised taxi shares to keep costs down.

Samplex: be very careful about using dangerous words like "backhanders" Cowboy operation. On what basis? your tone about drivers seems to have racist overtones?

Sorry, commenting is no longer available on this discussion.

Top Discussions