When Budget Travel Goes Wrong: My 1st SuperShuttle Experience

If you can’t tell from this blog, I enjoy being thrifty in my travels. I often accept crazy layovers, stay in apartments vs hotels and look for specials when traveling just to save some bucks. Well this time, being thrifty ended up being a bigger hassle than it was worth.

Traveling to the airport can be such a pain – and can also hit your wallet hard. When flying out of JFK airport, I tend to try to take the airport shuttle bus or take the Long Island Railroad to Airtran. For my current trip to the west coast, I didn’t want to use those options, due to my early morning flight. I decided to take the Supershuttle to JFK instead of paying $60+tip for a cab.

The SuperShuttle was only $20.69 and I was able to pay ahead of time by booking via the website. I had never taken the SuperShuttle before but I knew people that had – they assured me that besides having to wake up SUPER early for it, it gets you there on time and in one piece. I prepared myself for the 3:50am pickup time I was given, although grudgingly.

At 3:50 I was all packed and ready – SuperShuttle has a nifty website feature that tracks your van and lets you know how far it is from your pickup. Great! I constantly refreshed the page on my iPhone and saw the van making its way uptown to me. It was running late, but I had tons of time before my 7am flight.

Around 4:30am, when the van was shown as being several blocks from me, I pulled my luggage to the door and waited. And waited. And waited. I refreshed the page – the van was shown as being at my building. I waited. And waited. I looked out the window and waited some more. I checked my phone multiple times to make sure I didn’t get a missed call. No missed call.

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I go back to the SuperShuttle page and check the location of the van. The van had moved on! It made its way to Washington Heights, well past my location. After frantically refreshing to make sure, I started FREAKING out. I didn’t have any cash to take a gypsy cab to the airport and there were no yellow cabs roaming around Harlem at 4:45 in the morning. Remembering that I had bags to check, I realized I was going to be running short on time.

At the last minute I realized that I had the app Über downloaded. Über is an app that will either bring you a car service or, in New York City only, it can also hail you a yellow cab. I had to bite the bullet and pay $60 + tip to get to JFK, but at least I got there by 6am, in just enough time to check my bags! What’s funny is that when I checked the Supershuttle website again, the van was shown as being in Queens, on its way to the airport! So the van had no intentions of ever picking me up!

Will I ever book SuperShuttle again? Never ever. In all fairness to SuperShuttle, I complained about my lack of pickup on my twitter and not only did they respond via twitter, they called me, refunded my payment and offered to pay the difference from my cab fare! How is THAT for customer service? However, it shouldn’t take a horrible experience where you don’t even get what you paid for, to get that kind of treatment.

In short, saving money is not always worth it and you get what you pay for. Download the Uber app – it’s definitely worth it. You can use my personalized code, DSUVN, and it will get you $10 off your first ride!

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