Perhaps you’ve heard… I recently took a wonderful, special trip to Venice, Italy with my amazing Mama and our little dog Abby. We’ve been blogging about it. Anyway, we don’t live near the airport ― in fact, it’s a solid hour and a half drive without traffic. We were fortunate to have friends offer to drive us, but we needed to leave at 3:45 am and we just didn’t want to ask that of anyone. It’s simply too early. We are not morning people. Combine that with the stress of getting out the door and to the airport and we knew we needed to hire a service. This also meant that we could get some crucial sleep during the ride without being rude to a friend going way out of their way.
Our experiences highlighted some important DO’s and DON’Ts of airport rides and since some of you may be doing some holiday travel, I thought I’d share our experiences with you. Ultimately, we had a fantastic ride home from the airport and I would highly recommend Blue Water Sedans and Limousines in Santa Cruz!
During the summer our beloved cousin Miriam Margolyes (well known stateside as Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter movies, among her many brilliant performances) visited us while in town to perform at the University of California Santa Cruz’s Dickens Universe festival; she and her wonderful production assistant Sarah highly recommended the limo service hired by the university. I did a bit of research and found the company had good reviews and competitive rates; I confirmed round-trip sedan service for our trip dates with a 5% discount for paying cash. [ ➙ DO give discounts! They’re awesome and really appreciated.]
The morning of our trip arrived. I hadn’t actually gone to bed (though I successfully got Mama to sleep after an awesome home spa day!), but I was not thrilled when the driver arrived 15 minutes early. He guffawed and said it was better than arriving late. True, but at 3:30 in the morning, I need every minute! I’d actually baked fresh almond and chocolate croissants for our journey (to share with everyone we encountered) and they’d only just come out of the oven when the doorbell rang. Luckily I turned off the oven, but forgot a couple other minor items. [ ➙ DON’T arrive super early, super early!]
Then the driver kept up a running stream of small talk. I’m sorry, but the whole point of hiring a car service was so that we DIDN’T have to talk! [➙ Please, let the passenger set the tone.] We were friendly, but let him know that we needed to nap. It was a tense environment thereafter.
Upon arriving at SFO, the driver came up with a completely different (higher) price than I’d been quoted. Not cool. Not cool at all. We gave him a croissant anyway and bid him farewell; we were just happy to be on our way. [➙ DON’T bait and switch!]
Ultimately, we arrived at the airport on time so it was a success on that basic level. We had a lot more traveling to go so I didn’t give it another thought until we arrived back on U.S. soil and I reinstated my American cell phone service to call and confirm our ride home. It had already been a harrowing journey home when I finally reached Dwayne, the man with whom I’d made the reservation. He rather huffily informed me that he’d sold the business while we were abroad and I now needed to call a new number, which he rattled off. Luckily I’d taken notes on our original conversation and the company is now run by seriously good people. Really. I now couldn’t recommend a service more!
These guys honored the original quote precisely, despite the fact that the previous owner had given them the wrong date and they’d already been up to SFO waiting for us the day before! At this point, we’d already been traveling for almost 20 hours and had encountered many difficulties and near-miss connections. I was beyond exhausted, boarding our last flight and not-far-from hysterical, but the woman in charge of scheduling was super kind, calm and took care of everything. She assured me they’d be waiting for us at the airport when we got there, even if the flight was delayed.
Upon being reunited with our luggage, we still had not located the driver; I called and the same woman called me back immediately and coordinated with the driver to meet up with us. SFO’s wheelchair assistance stayed with us until the driver returned with the limo. Yes, exciting… it was an actual limo rather than a sedan… woohoo! [➙ DO upgrade! Though I must say, even better than the upgrade was their integrity.]
We had even more luggage upon our return than we did on our departure, but the driver didn’t make us feel guilty about it at all. He didn’t seem freaked out that we had a dog and he offered us bottled water inside the comfortably dim and insanely comfortable interior. He was friendly, but not overly talkative and he knew the fastest routes and traffic patterns. Bonus, he was super cute (so of course, not-so-smooth and totally haggard me choked when I found him). Mama and I were really hungry so we offered to buy him dinner if he’d make a quick stop on the way home; we were so jet-lagged we offered breakfast if he’d prefer. We fell asleep and woke when we pulled into an In-n-Out (we’d said it was our favorite before passing out). While we went inside to use the bathroom and order dinner, the driver very kindly took Abby’s pink leash and walked her around the grassy bits in the parking lot until she went pee. [➙ DO care about the customer and go the extra mile. It is SO appreciated!!! Thank you!!!]
It should be noted that the driver simply would not let us buy him dinner or even a drink; we just made sure to include a generous tip at the end. We devoured our burgers ― our first in more than a month having strictly enjoyed Italian food on our trip ― and then we crashed out in all the plushness of the limo. Before we knew it, we were home. And the cherry on top? The driver shlepped our heavy suitcases UPSTAIRS for us!
So, if you’re in the Silicon Valley, Central Coast or Greater San Francisco Bay Area and you and need a ride to or from the airport (or a fancy ride for a special occasion), I HIGHLY recommend Blue Water Sedans and Limousines (company was called AA Airport Sedan when it was Dwayne’s company, also previously ABC Sedans and Limos). We had a great experience! Having experienced exactly what a ride shouldn’t be on the way to the airport, it was a pleasure and a relief to enjoy the professional, comfortable ride home from a company with integrity. We will certainly use their service again!