We are heavy users of black car services when we travel, for airport transportation and at home in San Diego when we feel like having a glass of wine at dinner.
These are San Diego car services that we use regularly.
Best San Diego Airport Transportation: Blacklane
Based in Germany, Blacklane first crossed my radar last year when they asked me to test their product with a $250 credit. I first booked a ride from Four Seasons London at Canary Wharf (now the Canary Riverside) to Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire with success and have spent thousands and thousands of dollars with them since, arranging rides all over the world.
They are a little bit like Uber where they contract with certain drivers across the world to provide rides on behalf of Blacklane. Blacklane is our black car service of choice in San Diego and around the world.
Rates: Blacklane charges a flat fee per ride that is inclusive of gratuity. The fee is given at the time of booking. I will say that I’ve noticed their rates have gone up slightly in San Diego.
San Diego Airport Transfers: Airport transportation to and from San Diego Airport and depends on what time of day they’re arranged for. A typical ride from my house in La Jolla to the airport is usually $70 and that’s about what Uber Black charges me (departing SAN is slightly more expensive). I like that Blacklane drivers will meet me at baggage claim and track my flight so that they arrive on time. I do not stress if my flight is late or early.
Bottom Line: I’ll pay a bit more for Blacklane because the cars are usually nicer and the drivers are far more professional than Uber, in my experience (even though drivers in San Diego often work for both companies).
In San Diego, the type of car does vary (could be a Suburban, Lincoln Town Car, etc.). Blacklane, I’ve been told, has stricter car requirements than Uber so they will be newer. As of this writing, I have six future Blacklane reservations on the books.
Reservations: They have an app, but I usually arrange rides online through their website because I earn Asia Miles this way. My credit card information is stored, I can rate drivers, and my ride history is available after logging in. Go to Blacklane online or download the apps below. Use promo code 1WVK908F on your first ride and we’ll both save 20%.
Best for La Jollans: La Jolla Star Transportation
We’ve been using La Jolla Star Transportation on and off for 12 years. I did have some not-so-great experiences with them under prior management but not lately. Drivers are professionally-dressed (Blacklane and Uber drivers here do not always wear suits) and courteous.
They maintain a clean, nice fleet of cars (I seem to ride in mostly Mercedes or Lincoln Town Cars) that seem relatively new but the cars are not as luxurious as Black Star Premium Car Service listed below.
Rates: I find that it’s best to call them to verify pricing as it has been different than what is listed online. Gratuity needs to be added to the cost of your ride. My account is preset to add gratuity but you could always call to adjust that up or down if need be.
San Diego Airport Transfers: La Jolla Star Transportation charges more for airport drop-off and pick-up which is why I don’t use them regularly. But, if you do choose to use them, they’re great.
I booked them most recently as a Los Angeles International Airport Transfer (LAX) to La Jolla. Our flight from Hong Kong landed so early on a Sunday morning that waiting for a flight from LAX to SAN would have taken longer and actually cost more than just hiring a car. We were picked up in a Mercedes SUV crossover and delivered without issue to our home in San Diego. My credit card was billed automatically. The entire experience was pleasant and easy.
The reason why I did not use Blacklane in this instance is that I wanted to know exactly what kind of car I would be riding in for 2 hours. La Jolla Star Transportation has a gorgeous fleet of cars that they own so you know what you’re going to get each time.
They also track flight details so there is no need to worry if your flight is delayed or early. At LAX, I called the main number as the car was waiting in the cell phone lot and at the curb of the Tom Bradley Terminal within minutes.
Bottom Line: The other reason people use La Jolla Star Transportation is that you’re often riding with the same drivers which provides another layer of comfort for some people. They are the best choice for black car service within or near La Jolla (often pricing less than Uber Black for really short distances).
Reservations: La Jolla Star Transportation does not have an app or ability to make reservations online. You’ll need to call.
Most Convenient: Uber Black
As you probably know, Uber is an app from which you can request a variety of cars for immediate rides. I’ll use Uber Black when in a pinch but our recent rides have been dire. The cars have been old and not well maintained. One of our recent drivers tried to sell us some investments. No, thank you.
We do not user UberX or UberSelect as we prefer drivers with a commercial license so I can’t comment on these services.
Why I find Uber problematic: I actively dislike that if you need to contact your driver for any reason, you’re routed through a not-so-reliable 800 number. The process was nearly impossible for me to navigate in Austin recently when I worried I’d left my wallet in the car (thankfully, it was in the safe hands of Four Seasons Hotel Austin). I’m convinced that if it was in my Uber, it would have been long gone mostly because the process of getting in touch with a driver is much too cumbersome.
Yes, you often receive text messages that your Uber is arriving, but you are not able to text back after the ride is finished, in my experience.
I’ve also been told by many drivers that Uber does not vet their drivers as well as other black car services but have not done enough research to validate that.
Airport Transportation: I can not stand requesting an Uber after collecting my bags at San Diego International Airport. But when I do (if I forget to arrange a car, which has happened recently), I use the app. SAN now has a dedicated Ride Share pedestrial island you must go to for Uber and other rideshare apps. It’s busy and difficult sometimes to identify which side of the island your car is arriving to.
Rideshare apps are not permitted to pick passengers up at the zones outside of baggage claim.
Bottom Line: I use Uber Black for last-minute rides.
Rates and Reservations: It’s possible to get a quote online or through the Uber app before requesting a ride.
Nicest Cars: Black Star Premium Car Service
I recently had the pleasure of riding with Black Star Premium Car Service to Arrowhead Springs for an assignment. The company I was working for booked it through LimoLink but you can book the San Diego-based company directly.
They have new, lovely and large luxury sedans. I rode in a gorgeous BMW 740li with a very professional driver who was armed with directions and left me to work in peace.
They definitely provide the best overall experience. I look forward to using them again soon.
Airport Transportation: A ride from La Jolla to the Airport is roughly $85 plus gratuity. Yes, it’s the most expensive option but you get what you pay for.
Reservations: Fill out a quote form online or call them directly.
Other San Diego App Car Services
In addition to the ones listed above, Lyft is popular in San Diego. I use Didi in China but have heard they are recently online here, too.
What San Diego car service do you use?