Qantas axes free Chauffeur Drive for first, business class flyers

When Qantas flights to London return, there won't be a chauffeur to whisk you to or from the airport.

By David Flynn, April 2 2020
Qantas axes free Chauffeur Drive for first, business class flyers

Seven years after Qantas launched a free chauffeur drive service for business and first class flyers on key international routes, the ride is about to end.

The airline has confirmed that "from 15 April 2020, Chauffeur Drive services will no longer be available for booking for Qantas customers. This also applies to Qantas codeshare customers travelling on an Emirates operated service to and from Dubai."

Existing chauffeur bookings for travel through to April 30, 2021 will be honoured, as long as they've been requested by April 15, 2020.

January this year saw Qantas remove access to the American Airlines Arrivals Lounge at Heathrow, a pit-stop where first class and business class passengers could grab a post-flight shower, a fresh cup of coffee and an à la carte breakfast after touching down on QF1 and QF9.

At the time, a Qantas spokesperson told Executive Traveller that the arrivals lounge was little-used by inbound passengers – with only 1-2 guests each day – because most of them made a beeline for their awaiting chauffeur and headed straight to their hotel.

Qantas introduced its chauffeur service in April 2013 to match the same offering from Emirates, as part of the newly-minted Qantas/Emirates alliance.

The free ride was originally offered to premium cabin customers bound for London, Dubai and the USA, but over subsequent years was scaled back to include only the London route, covering a radius of 50 miles (80km) from London Heathrow Airport.

Relatively few international airlines offer a complimentary chauffeur service. While Emirates set the benchmark, competitor Etihad Airways scrapped its own service in July 2017.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Nov 2013

Total posts 16

I received my e-mail this morning as I'm booked to fly from Perth to London via Singapore on 10 September this year. That flight may not happen but hedged my bets and booked the chauffeur to Perth airport and to pick me up from my London hotel in October. Will be great if I get the perk but my priority was always retaining my platinum status but thanks to Qantas I'll now have that until November next year.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jul 2013

Total posts 34

I got my email this morning too. I also have flights booked to London in the last week of October, and haven't cancelled them yet as I'm hoping we'll have come out of all this by then. We haven't booked our accommodation yet (just in case) - so I'm wondering if we shouldn't book our Chauffeur Drive to where we think/hope we want to stay and then amend it later should the need be. Thoughts?

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 81

You should book by April 15th, otherwise you won't get access. If you need to change destination, I would avoid doing that online, as that will likely result in your existing booking cancelling and being unable to rebook - best to call a few days prior to departure if you need to change destination. Worst case if they can't / won't change destination closer to the date without forfeit, would be to speak to the driver on the day and they would most likely be fine if you are still going to same local area.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Nov 2013

Total posts 16

I've not booked a hotel yet either but used the address of one I'm reasonably likely to use. I'll use your strategy of leaving it until 48 hours before to advise of a change otherwise I will lose access to the service as you can't amend the booking. Qantas advises you have cancel and rebook, an option that won't be available after 15 April.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Jul 2017

Total posts 14

Hardly concerned by losing a free ride when many airlines face potential collapse and thousands out of work from cleaners to pilots.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1191

How very understanding of you.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 427

A better considered action by QF than when they removes the service from the US flight and did not honour existing bookings, but provided a paltry 10K points compensation.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 214

Hi David,

Would you be able to confirm if the chaffeur service will be reinstated once the coronavirus situation improves or has it been permanently scrapped?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 358

Access to the AArrivals Lounge was dropped because Qantas said most people skipped it in favour of Chauffeur Drive.

So now that Chauffeur Drive is no more - will Qantas be reinstating access to the American Airlines Arrivals Lounge???

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 374

I echo the comment from John Phelan above. Reinstate the arrivals lounge then.

25 Jun 2018

Total posts 2

When QF dropped the service on flights to U.S.I had a booking including the airport transfer, I complained bitterly to Q Customer Service and they reinstated my booking. The Customer Service officer agreed with my argument that a booking is a contract and can't be cancelled just because one party changes their mind.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 191

This is outrageous, simply OUT-RAGEOUS I say (with emphasis added ).

" .. a Qantas spokesperson told Executive Traveller that the arrivals lounge was little-used by inbound passengers – with only 1-2 guests each day".

Surely the highly paid commercial manager who negotiated this deal with American Airlines did so on the basis of per capita usage (allowing cost, say - $200/pax, to be embedded within each pax airfare), not as a fixed charge? If so, why would QF care if used or not as the cost was fully recovered. Equally, the existence of that arrangement was never well publicised (or I'd have used it in July 2018). I mean, seriously?

"because most of them made a beeline for their awaiting chauffeur and headed straight to their hotel."

Hello? Most hotels don't allow check-in until 12-noon at the earliest, but most not before 2:00 pm. Were they in a rush to enjoy 'luggage drop off' or was it just a very poorly co-ordinated limo service at LHR? Following David's directions, earlier this year I used the Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge (arrived into LHR at 0930 on VS8) and had the limo pre-booked to collect me at 11:30 am for the trip into the City.

But then .... this was a case of VA and VS having their act together. Not quite sure of QF problem, but now I guess there isn't one. "Sorted !"


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