Review: Uber chauffeur drive service

Overall Rating

By David Flynn, March 18 2014
Uber chauffeur drive service
The Good
  • Great for the smartphone-savvy
  • Cheaper than a booked chauffeur service
  • Hassle-free from start to finish
The Bad
  • 'On demand' only - no advance bookings
  • Ride and arrive in style


The Uber chauffeur drive service is becoming increasingly popular with business travellers in Sydney and Melbourne, especially for runs to and from the airport.

For those who came in late, Uber lets you use a simple smartphone app to book and pay for a private hire car at 'near-taxi' prices – although in some cities you can hire a taxi as well.

Uber doesn't actually employ the drivers or own the cars. The company is just a go-between, linking drivers who have some downtime between booked jobs with people seeking a quality ride that's a cut above a taxi.

Read: How Uber works

We tested out Uber on a recent rainy morning for a trip from Sydney's lower north shore to the airport.

Booking with Uber

The first tip for an Uber traveller is that there's no facility to book a specific pick-up time in advance: if that's what you want, you'll have to call a hire car company and book directly with them.

The Uber way is 'on-demand' – it  relies on a hire car drive being available when you need it and in your local area (or willing to drive to your pickup location).

For that reason, it's best not to book a Uber car until you're absolutely ready to roll.

So at a little after 6.30am, with my bags packed and the cat given her goodbye scratches, I opened the Uber app on my iPhone, which automatically plotted my current location.

I opted for the standard (and default) Uber Black service and was surprised to see that even at this early hour there were two available cars in the neighbourhood, with the nearest just seven minutes away.

One tap later and I was at the Confirmation screen, ready for the app to make a booking with the nearest Uber driver.

This screen also gives you the chance to get a quote on your ride before you hit the big black button.

$74 to $89? That's not unreasonable, considering the average taxi fare from my house to the international airport usually nudges the $70 mark.

At least with Uber I'm going to get a better grade of car and driver and travel in a bit more comfort.

With the booking made, Uber runs a quick check against your smartphone's mobile number.

The next screen shows that my driver is on his way – as well as displaying his name, photo and Uber customer rating, plus the type of car, his current location and estimated time of arrival.

That six minutes' ETA is just enough time for more kitten-scratches until I receive an SMS and updated Uber screen to advise that my driver is around the corner.

So far, so good – the whole booking process has been seamless.

Riding with Uber

My driver for the morning is courteous and happy to chat about Uber. His car is a Mercedes-Benz S500, although he says the most common Uber Black car is the Holden Caprice, with a handful of BMW 7-series into the mix.

Our trip to Sydney Airport's international terminal takes just under 30 minutes and it's a smooth and relaxing ride all way.

When we arrive at T1 he hops out to fetch my carry-on bag from the S500's trunk and I'm good to go.

The trip comes to $84 including tolls, which is deducted from my credit card card because my card's details are already loaded into the Uber app.

Before reaching the checkin counter I've received a detailed invoice from Uber via email, with a complete breakdown of the fare and route for reimbursement or tax purposes.

Get free $10 Uber credit

If you haven't already tried Uber, you can sign up for free using the special Australian Business Traveller invitation code of uberAusBT and get $10 in credit towards your first ride.

(Disclaimer: we'll also pick up $10 of Uber credit when you take that first ride, so it's a win-win.)

Start by creating your free personal account  at, download the Uber app for your iPhone or Android smartphone, and you're ready to ride in style.


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.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 526

I do like Uber and use them quite often. The two biggest negatives for me with Uber is that (1) my house is considered to be "City" in Sydney and as a result, I get charged the flat fee of $75 for a run to the city. It would cost less than that for the distance if it wasn't considered "City". I think the definition of "City" should just be the CBD. (2) Quite often when ordering a car (and more often with a Uber Taxi), the driver that accepts is not necessarily the closest and I have had to wait a lot longer than what the app had told me originally before I ordered. I have also had Uber Taxi's cancel after waiting several minutes and I have had to then order another one and wait even more.

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1242

All Uber Black trips between the domestic airport and Sydney CBD are a flat $65; $75 for trips between the international airport and Sydney CBD. I'd say this is a fairly high premium to pay considering how short/fast the journey is.

01 Feb 2012

Total posts 370

Just installed this app, thanks for the $20 credit.

If the black option already includes S classes, I wonder what lux is???

Will try it next time I need a ride to the airport - the quote is about $5-20 more than a cab usually is I think, and its probably less convenient for me since I live next to a taxi stand. But if its more comfortable then it might be worthwhile.

Are there any safety issues vis a vis normal taxis given the lack of regulation? I guess this is Australia so I'm not expecting anyone to get kidnapped, but my experience in Asia is not you never get into an unmarked taxi....

06 Jul 2012

Total posts 13

I've utilised this multiple times and certainly have not been kept for ransom. All interactions are logged so I don't think there are safety concerns any more than flagging down a cab. Drivers have certainly expressed their welcoming of uber to allow them access to a new clientele. 

There are some simple improvements that could be made to the app but I've found it invaluable skipping the cab rank queue departing sydney airport. Also during non peak hours currently in sydney uber taxi rides are 40% off the meter rate. This meant my ride to the airport at 4PM on a weekday was only marginally expensive than the train. 

01 Feb 2012

Total posts 370

Didn't realise you could do that at the airport - do you meet them at the car park?

06 Jul 2012

Total posts 13

There's a 'limo pickup' point or something similarly named at each terminal - it is directly in front so no wandering required. The driver usually calls you and directs you where to wait.

07 May 2015

Total posts 1

Can you get a "standard" uber from Sydney airport or can you only use uber black?

04 Aug 2015

Total posts 2

I caught a Uber Taxi on Sunday morning. I had a $25 voucher for my first ride. The fair came to $42.00 and I received a receipt for this amount via the app. However when checking my account on sunday, two payments have gone out of my account. $42.00 & also a fair for $52.00. I have tried contacting Uber several times however no response to be had. Has anyone had a similar issue and know how to get this money back into my account imediatley?

I find it disgraceful that they have no mobile number for contact purpose or a office in Perth. Can someone please assist me with this issue.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2438

We'd suggest replying to the Uber email invoice to describe your issue as the email address is monitored by customer service.

04 Aug 2015

Total posts 2

I have already done this. I had one reply to send a scrennshot of receipt and statement showing what has been taken out of the account.

I have had no repsonse since doing so.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

23 Jul 2014

Total posts 11

I love Uber!  Their model is the same the world over, making it easy to catch a ride where ever you are. 

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 464

would never use them.I am in adelaide and have used smart car and citicar $52 to $65 the benefit being there is a local branch to pay for that and those prices were ex Payneham to the Airport.I live in a zone where there's also the option of a local bus I can get for less than $2 on a concession for such a trip but those with luggage is not much fun.

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