The prospect of hanging around Heathrow for 24 hours when a delayed British Airways flight resulted in a missed connection to Cape Town didn’t fill us with too much joy. Sorting out a new flight and somewhere to stay in the early hours of the morning (the queue was pretty horrendous – hundreds of people with missed connections or cancelled flights, but only a handful of BA staff to handle the issues) had meant we’d already seen more than enough of the airport.
So, with my brother living only half an hour away, we decided to visit him and his family, play football in the garden and pass the time somewhere rather more inviting than the confines of Terminal 5. Of course, we had no car – that was at Manchester Airport – so I decided to trial the services of Uber which I’d heard a number of good things about, despite the drivers of the London black cabs being not too impressed.
I stepped out of our hotel entrance, clicked on the app and could immediately see the street I was on and what cars were nearby, along with expected wait times for each. In true A Luxury Travel Blog style, I slid the slider to request a ‘LUX’ vehicle. At this point, the app actually crashed on me (probably as much as anything to me running it on an iPhone 3GS which is now something of a museum piece in iPhone terms – I’d been holding out for the iPhone 6). But within 30 seconds of it crashing, I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognise. I answered and it was the driver of a taxi nearby – despite the app crashing, my request had presumably logged in the system somehow and he told me he’d be around in 5 minutes and to look out for a white BMW.
5 minutes later, there he was in a white BMW 730. The driver was friendly and presentable, the car comfortable and the app – despite the crash – essentially worked perfectly for me. There was even bottled water on board should we need it. Although this was my first time using the service, it would definitely be something that I’d consider using again. I just need to get that phone upgrade first!
You can see why the app hasn’t been particularly well received by the traditional London cabbies… it’s turned hailing a cab completely on its head. Not only can I hail one that’s close by and at short notice, I even get emailed a Google Map of my journey, the distance, the journey time, the name of my driver (thanks, Faraz!) and a full breakdown of the costs as soon as I get to my destination.
I have since been in touch with Uber and they tell me that if you’d like to try using the service for yourself, they’ll very kindly give any of our readers a £20 credit against your first journey. All you have to do is quote ‘ALTB’ when you sign up.