The New Medellín Airport Transfer

Medellin airport

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.

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One of the vehicles used for Medellin Airport Transfer

The Beginning

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.

One of the vehicles used for Medellín Airport Transfer

The Perks

  • 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.

The Competition

  • 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. 

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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.

  1. To book, go to Medellín Airport Transfer and click “Book Now.”
  2. Choose your journey (to the airport, from, or return).
  3. Fill in your details (Pick-up address, flight number, expected arrival time, etc.).
  4. Fill in your personal details.
  5. Choose payment (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover or PayPal) You will be charged when you book.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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About Ximena

Born in Manizales, raised in the US, Ximena loves writing about the space in between her two cultures.

Comments

  1. Another great and timely post from Ximena. She’s on fire, give her a raise!

    I’m always looking for transportation alternatives to/from Rio Negro. Although not exactly cheap at USD $30, I’ll definitely check this service out the next time I fly into MDE.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is an advertisement. You can get professional, english speaking transport for 60.000 pesos.

    • We were not paid for this article.

      What’s the name of the company you know with English drivers?

      I agree it’s not a unique selling proposition, but the more options people have, the better.

      • Medellin City Tours had English speaking airport pick-ups for 60 k.

        • We included Medellin City Services, Colombia Tour Operator and other services under the “The Competition” subtitle of the post.

          • If is not an advertisement, why do you have, “It’s very simple to book” and “Their drivers are accredited and trained”, as bulket points. What organization handles the accreditation?

            At least be fair to the other providers. What about the new helicopter service everyone is talking about?

            I am sorry to point out these types of things. I like Medellin Living and realize it is not the NY Times. But it seems to be that writing good things about your friends is an overly common theme.

          • Hi Greg,

            If you read the article as an advertisement rather than the story of a few expats starting a new business, we need to accept that as constructive feedback and be more careful in our storytelling going forward.

            Since 2010, I can assure you we’ve written far more stories about businesses we have no personal connection to than the ones we do. You can read our editorial policy here.

            The only helicopter service I’m aware of is the 15 to 20-minute scenic flights offered by Fly Colombia.

            When I heard about them last year, I wanted to book one specifically to take aerial photos of the city, however, they’re not cheap so it’s something we’ve yet to cover on the blog.

          • Jose Leyba says:

            I’m not in agreement with the previous poster’s comments about this post reading as an advertisement for Medellin Airport Transfer. Nor do I think you need to revise your editorial policies in response to an apparently disgruntled reader.

            As I mentioned before, I found the post informative, well written, and timely.

            The part about the founders setting up a Uber-like airport transport service I can book and pay for from my phone in the US is definitely of interest to me, and probably to others as well.

            Again, nice job Ximena and David. Keep up the good work!

            P.S. I should point out I have zero interest in or involvement with Medellin Airport Transfer. I don’t know anyone associated with the service, nor do I know Ximena or David.

          • I flew into Medellin last week for a couple days from Cartagena and they do now have a Helicopter service. $150.000 COP per person and it is 10 minutes.

          • Who has a helicopter service? What is the route?

  3. I used the service twice and was great!
    Totally recommended 🙂 🙂

  4. I think it’s great to post about new businesses and options although this post does read more like a PR press release. It sounds like a decent option but I don’t perceive that there is any ‘gap’ in airport transportation as I don’t see any advantage to using them as opposed to Uber which also accepts Paypal. Uber also has the UberEnglish option.although I don’t think it’s necessary coming from the airport as most people will have their hotel/apt address written down so there’s unlikely much you have to discuss with the driver and if he gets lost you can always give him the hotel/landlord number. The ‘return package’ doesn’t make sense as it’s the same price as just booking the one-way when you need it.

    In terms of the bus not being ‘comfortable for luggage’ I’ve taken the bus and they usually take your bag and put it in the back for you so it’s hassle free and since the bus doesn’t stop at lots of hotels and just goes straight to San Diego right next to the taxi stand it’s very smooth!

  5. Uber can’t pick you up at the airport, or if they can they’ve never showed up for me. For within Medellin I 95% of the time use Uber, but have gotten looked for a way to get a cab that will take cards or PayPal from the airport to Medellin.

    Because of this post I decided to use this service when my friends were coming to visit from the States who speak absolutely no Spanish at all. The first time there was a little glitch in that my friend didn’t realize that I had already paid so she gave the guy $40, the $30 for the trip and a $10 tip. I was a little irritated that we had paid twice so I emailed them. They got back to me right away, refunded the money to PayPal, and brought my friend back the money. Totally unnecessary but totally appreciated. From now on, I will only use them when I come back from the airport. Their customer service has been the opposite of what I’ve gotten used to living in Colombia.

  6. I used QUEHAGO to book a car, it was easy and bilingual staff.. $60K pesos or USD$25: http://quehago.com.co/hoy/856-taxi.html#.VgBrkSB_Okp

  7. Hi,

    I used this service from and to the airport when I visited Medellin from September 6th – September 11th. The fare was $29.95 each way. I found the service to be very professional. The driver had a sign with my name at the airport, which made the whole process easy. When I was picked up on the end of my trip, the driver was ten minutes early. As this was my first time in Medellin, I didn’t want to stress about transportation from the airport. I would highly recommend them. On my future visits to Medellin, I may use the bus and Metro train to get to my destination, as the public transportation is excellent
    Thanks for the post on mentioning this service!

  8. Heading to Medellin for 2 weeks on 12/1. It looks like Uber Black is a little cheaper. Cashless is definitely better. Can anyone confirm what Alicia said about them not picking up at the airport?

  9. I think it’s a great post as they provide airport transfer with guided tours. Thanks

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