Home Ground Transportation (Bus, Lyft, Subway, Taxi, Train, Uber, etc.) Our Experience Booking A Car Service From EWR to Manhattan

Our Experience Booking A Car Service From EWR to Manhattan

by joeheg

I recently wrote about how we’re taking short weekend trips again and how that’s a step back to the way things used to be. I’ve even started to set aside toiletries and electronic wires just for when we travel.

The reason for this was after returning from New York last Sunday, we had another flight to New York the following Sunday. Unlike the last trip, this time we left on Sunday night. The last flight from Orlando to the NYC area was on jetBlue to Newark. While this meant we’d be able to park at the new Terminal C garage, which would save us time on our trip to the airport, it also meant our scheduled time into EWR was around midnight.

We’re familiar with Newark Airport. While we’re comfortable taking the Airtrain to NJ Transit connecting to Penn Station, it’s not a ride we like to take late at night. In fact, the trains don’t run after a certain time and if we were delayed, we’d be stuck. On top of that, I’d taken a late-night taxi into Manhattan, pre-pandemic, and it was expensive and not the best experience.

While I generally don’t put much credibility into Google searches that lead to Tripadvisor message boards, the common wisdom was to book a car service. The advantages were that they’d stay even if you were delayed. The downside was that it was more expensive that a taxi or Uber.

We were flying to New York for the one-night-only 25th Anniversary concert version of Ragtime, which we bought tickets for in January 2020 (at DFW airport, on a connection to SFO, on what was to be our last pre-covid trip), a show that was originally scheduled for Spring of 2020, but had been delayed ever since. I was willing to pay a bit more for the ride to Manhattan from Newark Airport for our 38-hour visit to NY.

There are several car companies that service Newark Airport, but two of the most well-known are Dial 7 and Carmel. Both of these services have been in operation since we lived in the NJ/NY area, which is a good 20+ years. Honestly, I didn’t do much comparison shopping before I booked a ride with Dial 7 a week before the trip. I provided our flight information and where we were going and the website gave me a price that included the fare, airport fees, tolls and tip.

I’d usually pay a 20% tip to a “black car” driver so their charge didn’t seem that bad. I felt better about the price I’d locked in when I arrived at EWR and pulled up the Uber app to check how much they’d charge for a ride to our hotel. An Uber X would cost $116 before the tip.

Lyft with my Sapphire Reserve Lyft Pink membership would be a bit less expensive, at $76.74. This is no surprise as I’ve often found Lyft Lux to be less expensive than Uber.

However, I already reserved a ride. In fact, when we were delayed Dial 7 texted me to ask if I was still on my scheduled flight or if I changed planes. I replied that we had just landed at Newark and were taxiing to the gate. Remember this is around 12:30 AM and I was getting replies from them within minutes.

I received a link to click once we’d received our bags and were ready for pickup. Since we didn’t check bags, I clicked it as soon as we reached the baggage claim area. The website told us to wait for our driver and within 3 minutes I received a call. I told our driver where we were and he said that he would be there in 5-7 minutes. He also gave me the type of car and the license plate, making sure to repeat the last four numbers of the plate.

That was unnecessary as I shortly received an email and text message with the details of our ride and a link to track our ride.

It was only a few minutes until our car arrived. Despite us only having overnight bags, he opened the back of the Chevy Suburban and packed our items carefully in the hold. After double-checking the address of our hotel (which I had to look up), we headed to Manhattan via the NJ Turnpike and Lincoln Tunnel.

For the first part of the ride, we chit-chatted with our driver and learned he’d just started driving with Dial 7. We also talked about EWR’s new terminal and how it’s not great for drivers as it can sometimes take 20-30 minutes to reach the pickup area from the holding lot. (Pro Tip: If you can contact your driver before they get into traffic, it’s often faster if you tell them to pick you up at departures instead of arriving flights.)

For the rest of the trip, we relaxed while taking the same roads we’d driven on in our rental car the week before. Without traffic, we were in the city within 30 minutes. Our final delay was getting stuck behind a NYC garbage truck a few blocks from the hotel.

When we arrived, our driver helped us unpack our bags. There was no awkward signing of a credit card slip or shady square payment (like when we got scammed by a taxi driver). Instead, our driver told us that all of the payment, including his tip, was taken care of and we didn’t owe anything additional from the agreed price online.

IMHO, I don’t mind paying a little extra if I don’t have to worry about being scammed by my driver. This is the appeal of using Uber or Lyft and if I’m able to get a reserved ride with a small upcharge, I’m willing to pay it when I’m arriving at an off hour for drivers.

Cover Photo from Mic on Flickr

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