For our weekend trip to New Orleans, Lynn and I decided to fly out after work on Friday evening. After looking for hotels and realizing how expensive hotels in downtown New Orleans can be, we decided that we would stay in a hotel out by the airport on Friday night since we were getting in late anyway. We actually booked the hotel through Priceline to get a discounted rate and got our room at the Extended Stay America in Kenner. Unfortunately, our hotel was the only hotel in the area that didn’t offer free shuttle service to and from the airport. Not a big deal though… since we were staying by the airport we figured it would be a quick low-cost taxi ride to our hotel.
We were right about one thing: It was a quick taxi ride, but it was NOT cheap. Unfortunately, we were not aware of this until after we were riding away in our taxi. First, let’s go back about 30 minutes to when we arrived at the New Orleans airport…
No, you are not going far enough. You need to get a different taxi.We got off our plane and per the usual headed straight for the ground transportation because we try to pack light and make sure we never have to check bags (money saved!). When we got outside the taxi line was right there so we got in line and waited. It was a good thing we got there when we did because the line tripled in length about 3 minutes after we got on line (time saved!). We only had to wait about 5 minutes and we were given a piece of paper and told to walk down and get into a specific taxi. When we got to the taxi, we told the driver where we were going and he said, “No, you are not going far enough. You need to get a different taxi.” He sat our bags on the curb and told the taxi stand operator that we needed another taxi because we were only going to Kenner.
Ok, that’s fine, but I think we would have been more annoyed by the situation if we had been waiting in the taxi line for as long as some of those people were. Anyway, we were told to cross the one lane of airport traffic and wait in the median for them to call us a different taxi. We waited there for another five minutes, a taxi pulled up and the taxi stand operator motioned to us that it was our taxi. We put our bags in and we were off.
It’s a flat fee to your destination. $18.As we were leaving the airport, it was Lynn that noticed the taxi driver hadn’t turned on the meter. Since we’ve seen taxi drivers in other cities try to charge us an expensive flat fee instead of running the meter, Lynn said, “You forgot to turn on the meter.” The driver said, “It’s a flat fee to your destination. $18.” I’m pretty sure our exact reaction was, “18 DOLLARS!?!?” We were expecting our taxi ride to be about $7 or $8 total, which is what Lynn found online using a taxi calculator for New Orleans.
We thought the taxi driver was trying to scam us. It just didn’t seem right. He informed us that there was a flat rate of $15 just to leave the airport and that it was an extra $3 to go to the area we were going to. We were still very skeptical… and I think anyone would be. The ride from the airport to our hotel was literally 5 minutes. In any other city a 5 minute taxi ride would be between $5 and $10… I would almost say $10 with the tip.
When we arrived at our hotel, Lynn took pictures of the taxi number and we paid the driver his $18. Our next mission was to check in to our hotel, get WiFi and look online to see if this was actually legit. Everything that we found online was telling us that we shouldn’t have paid as much as we did, but we still weren’t sure.
It wasn’t until the next day when we got in our taxi to go into New Orleans that we got our answer. On the window was the taxi rate card. To our surprise, $18 was the correct price. Below is the exact line on the taxi rate card that outlines the cost.
There are a couple things that Lynn and I find both ridiculous and baffling about this:
- How can they possibly be charging $18 for a 5 minute taxi ride when it costs $33 for a 25 minute ride into downtown New Orleans? Based on the rate for the 5 minute ride, the taxi into downtown New Orleans should cost $90… or the ride to our hotel in Kenner should have been $7.
- Why did that first taxi driver give up our fare? If you were a taxi driver, wouldn’t you take the quick $18 fare instead of the $33 fare to downtown if it was available? You would save on gas, plus you would be back at the airport in less than 15 minutes to pick up another fare.
After our experience with the first taxi, we decided to take only two more taxis the rest of our trip. One to downtown New Orleans and another to the Comfort Inn hotel out by the airport the night before our flight back home. That taxi ride was the same cost as going to the airport from downtown ($33). The Comfort Inn that we stayed at the night before our flight had a free shuttle to the airport, which we were able to find on Hotwire doing a filter for hotels with free airport shuttles (an filtering option that wasn’t available on Priceline).
Here’s what we learned:
- If you plan to stay at a hotel by the airport to save money, you need to make sure that the hotel has a free shuttle to and from the airport.
- The city of New Orleans wants you to take a taxi downtown from the airport, and if you don’t… Well, you’ll pay for it… and then some.