How Airlines Can Become Door-to-door Travel Companies

Sascha Meskendahl, Blacklane

Airlines have long sold travellers vacation packages and hotels to earn commissions and go beyond flights.

Yet, there was often a missing link: rides to and from airports. Sometimes travellers chose an airline’s car hire partner. But those who preferred to be driven were on their own to find a ride.

The reason: affordable multinational brands did not exist. Large legacy chauffeur services were too expensive for most travellers. Local providers were too small to integrate city by city.

But those restrictions no longer exist. Thus, airlines including Finnair, Qatar Airways and SAUDIA have added Blacklane’s chauffeur services as ancillary revenue partners.

But the opportunity extends far beyond revenue for these and other airlines.


Airlines must replicate e-commerce

Airlines excel at transporting flyers between airport terminals.  Yet the word “terminal” comes from the Latin word “terminalis”, which means “pertaining to a boundary or end, final”. That definition applies to airplanes, not travellers. Our journeys begin an end at homes, offices, hotels and convention centres.

By integrating a chauffeur partner, airlines can serve passengers’ journeys from door to door.

This approach replicates the e-commerce model. Online, alliances of products and services provide a seamless customer experience. This means that when you order a product online, retailers integrate shipping options.

Airlines can mirror this experience by linking the product (flights) with the delivery method (chauffeured rides). This not only solves an immediate customer need, but it also creates new opportunities for customer retention, brand loyalty and a competitive edge.


Airlines and airport transfers align

Chauffeur services complement to the flight purchase process, as they and full-service airlines share key qualities.

  • Both create a consistent global experience. Airlines replicate the cabin and service levels whether you board a flight in Dubai or Dublin. Similarly, a global chauffeur service maintains vehicle quality and driver service worldwide.
  • Customers receive guaranteed reservations at a set price. The cost certainty and service promise provide peace of mind.
  • Both provide full duty of care. Each industry requires professional licensing, certification and insurances. Both also provide real-time service control and 24/7 customer service.
  • Travelers can choose their service class. Chauffeur services offer sedans and business vans/SUVs as well as business class and first class rides.

As early adopters show, it is not a matter of if airlines will close this gap, but when. We think that in a few years, integrated chauffeur rides will be the expectation, not the exception. To not offer scheduled, fixed-rate, professional ride services will diminish the customer experience. After all, we travel door-to-door, not just fly terminal-to-terminal.


To learn more, please visit Blacklane’s Stand 122 in the Innovation Zone and attend our session, “Tap into end to end services for customers,” on 6 September at 15:25.