Think to the last time you arrived in the Medellín Jose María Córdova Airport.
You probably stepped out the doors with your luggage in hand, breathing in the Rionegro crisp air, to find a line of white airport taxis saying things to you:”Need a ride?” and, “Only 60,000 pesos” -all in Spanish, of course, so possibly it was even unintelligible.
Down further, you could probably see one or two buses that also offered a ride to Parque Berrío or San Diego Mall. And that is all.
For a long time now, when arriving in Medellín, we’ve had these two options. If you’re not ready ahead of time, you are at the mercy of these two services.
Now, they’re not bad services. The bus is cheap but leaves only when full, won’t be comfortable for luggage, and will drop you off where you’ll need to catch another ride.
The airport taxis do their job of taking you to the place you need to go, but usually don’t speak English and could have a hard time with some addresses.
You are one of the several rides they’re giving, when you arrive you hand over cash to either the bus or the taxi driver (which involves having stopped at an ATM beforehand or on the way) and they rush out to the next guy or busload.
Shaun Taberer and Herman Ritzema explored the possibilities of an online based airport transfer. The first is a frequent visitor of Colombia and the second is a resident of Medellín, they’re the founders of Medellín Airport Transfer.
Shaun and Herman met in San Andres late 2013 and have kept in touch ever since. One a copywriter and the other a web designer, they dreamed of starting an online business that they could enjoy together.
“We saw a gap in the market: an airport pickup service that always guarantees quality service, punctuality, safety, qualified drivers, modern, clean and safe vehicles that are always serviced and certified by Colombia’s Board of Tourism. plus the option to have an English-speaking driver,” explained Taberer.
Paisas have fulfilled the locals’ need for parking close to the airport for great prices, with airport transfer to and from the parking lots, but have completely left aside tourists’ desire to book a safe transfer before arriving.
So, Medellín Airport Transfer was created as a way of fulfilling that desire. They have been consistently taking bookings for about four months now.
“It’s a great feeling… investing time and effort and getting rewarded by a customer saying ‘Yes, I trust this company, I want to use their service.’” said Taberer.
- They decided to be online based because it allows them the advantage of charging in USD with no cash exchanging hands, no currency changes, and no ATM charges getting in the way of simple transfer to and from the airport.
- Medellín Airport Transfer cars are registered with the National Tourism Board, the Ministry of Transport and the National Transport Board of Colombia: so it’s legitimate and safe.
- It’s very simple to book.
- Their drivers are accredited and trained.
- They’ve worked hard to offer one critical element: you can request a bilingual driver (for an extra $9.99.)
- They have a variety of cars to accommodate your needs because they’re in an alliance with Turiservice, an executive car service.
- The drivers, though efficient, aren’t in a rush to drop you off and can make stops for you to get dinner or adjust the route if you need.
- They offer a receipt if you need it for taxes or any other purpose.
- Medellín City Services, according to their website, offers airport transfer, along with other guided tours with bilingual guides, for 80,000 pesos that you can pay with PayPal.
- When you search online, you can find a taxi service on Que Hago Hoy for 60,000 pesos. I haven’t known anyone that’s tried it, but it’s available.
- Uber offers transportation to the airport for about 75,000 pesos.
- Colombia Travel Operator also provides bilingual airport transfers.
These are to name a few. So, is the gap in the market that Taberer and Ritzema as wide as they thought?
All these transfers are offered by services in the city with their own perks. However, Medellin Airport Transfer is, as far as I’m aware, the only online-based, airport transfer exclusively, executive service in the city, and the only one that offers the bilingual driver as a separate special, with its own added value.
They stress that they are safe, reliable and on time.
From Booking Online to Arriving at your Destination
Your best bet is to book the service a few days ahead of time. The service allows for free cancellation until 24 hours before the pickup, after which you’d get only a 90 percent refund.
- To book, go to Medellín Airport Transfer and click “Book Now.”
- Choose your journey (to the airport, from, or return).
- Fill in your details (Pick-up address, flight number, expected arrival time, etc.).
- Fill in your personal details.
- Choose payment (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover or PayPal) You will be charged when you book.
- You will receive an order confirmation along with a WhatsApp number to contact Taberer and Ritzema directly, in the event of an inconvenience or change.
- When you arrive at the airport you will be greeted with a sign with your name clearly displayed on it, the driver will already know your destination and you can skip the explanation and confusion of long Medellín addresses.
- During the ride, you have the right to stop for one hour, if you’d like, to get dinner, lunch, etc., before heading into the city.
- When you arrive, simply gather your luggage and leave. No cash needed.
If you, for some reason, need to be dropped off in another town, like Jardín or Santa Fe de Antioquia, or would like to use the transport service for a different route, you can contact them directly and they will give a quote.
Do you think there’s a need for bilingual airport transfer? Have you tried this service or any others before? Tell us in the comments below.