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Welcome Pickups

I've seen others make references to "Welcome Pickups" before but never knew anything about this operation, until now.

For some reason (naïveté, I suppose? just cluelessness?), from the name, I had pictured this was a group of volunteer civic boosters, maybe senior citizens, who would greet you at the airport, dispense hugs, and show you around, all for free. It sounded so quaint.

Um, nope.

I was surprised to discover that no, it's actually kind of an Uber-esque online-driven pickup and transfer service (and decidedly NOT free - no idea about hugs). Operating all around the world, too. They proudly proclaim all their drivers speak English well and will meet you after your flight arrives (they adjust the pickup time if your flight is delayed) and it's the same price as a regular taxi only better. I suspect the price is more than a standard taxi, but I'm thinking sometimes it may be worth it...

For example, I'm heading to Colombia in a few weeks. Our flight into Bogotá is scheduled to arrive at 1 am. We're staying at a hotel in the old historic center, which appears to be fairly charming and safe during the daylight hours, but may not an ideal place to be wandering around jetlagged, dragging bags, lost and trying to find your hotel at 2 am.

When I arrive in a brand new place, I might use public transit from the airport to my digs, often I'll just grab a taxi (especially if I'm tired from a series of long flights). In this case, with my late night arrival after a very long day in transit, plus security concerns, I'm thinking that a minor splurge for this service may be worth the extra cost.

Any opinions on "Welcome Pickups" from those who have used them in a similar situation? Safe? Worth the extra cost for ease and peace of mind at the end of a long day?

Thanks.

Posted by
15709 posts

I have used Welcome Pickups twice. Both in Athens.

They were taxi drivers that also drove for Welcome Pickups. Both were on time, spoke excellent English, had nice cars, one offered me a bottle of water and the use of wifi, and it was a fixed price paid online. (And since it's a fixed price, you're not going to get an expensive "detour".)

I would not hesitate to book through them again anywhere I needed a ride from the airport and they offered the service.

If I was arriving late at night, I would definitely book a car service over a taxi. Especially in country where you don't know the taxi regulations.

Posted by
4003 posts

Unfortunately we booked Welcome Pickups and paid in advance. A requirement. We were flying into Paris from NY. Our flight was delayed one hour, we texted the driver from the airport in NY, no problem. The company then texted us that they were canceling the pickup cause of the delay and didn’t have another driver. We texted the driver, no answer. And no refund, only a credit. We ended up using the credit for a ride from our hotel to the train station and ate the remaining credit.
We always book a pickup and have never prepaid. This was the first and last with Welcome Pickups. We just felt that if one hour throws them off they aren’t the company for us. This was April 2023,
We previously used booking.com for pickups and will go back to using them in the future.

Posted by
381 posts

I have used Welcome Pickups at least a half dozen times in various countries. Fortunately, I have not had any issues like Barbara and my experiences have been more in line with Frank. All were on time, courteous and spoke excellent English. Some were more outgoing and friendly than others, but that does not bother me either way. I like having a pre-arranged transfer to my hotel when arriving in a new city, especially from my initial flight from the US.

I find their prices are in line or slightly higher than taxis, but you do need to research this. In Copenhagen they were significantly more, so we ended up using public transportation which was very easy.

Posted by
457 posts

With so many random locations Welcome Pickups must be more like a "platform" than an organized "company". For such a late arrival I would ask the hotel for best suggestion. If there is a flight like that regularly, the hotel will likely know the best plan. Transfers arranged by a hotel can be more expensive than what you might arrange yourself but for peace of mind it seems like a worthwhile cost. You could at least ask and then compare and decide.

Posted by
2522 posts

I used Welcome Pickups in Turkey for Istanbul airport arrival and Izmir airport departure. Same experience as Frank - I had a great driver in Istanbul (very communicative) and a perfectly adequate driver to Izmir. When I had a similar arrival time in Quito, Ecuador, I took a taxi from the airport to my centrally located hotel because they had a fixed rate taxi stand. It was very dark and the cab driver was a bit concerned about me getting dropped off in that area and time of night, but it all worked out ok once I found the doorbell for the guest house. You might check TripAdvisor forums for Bogotá to see if anyone has commented on them as well as checking with hotel.

Posted by
467 posts

@Barbara, do you have a company you've used that doesn't require prepayment? I was getting ready to book Welcome Pickups for Lisbon in a few weeks.

Posted by
25 posts

As with Frank I used Welcome Pickups in Athens and actually had a delightful driver -- was well worth the money.

Posted by
864 posts

When we’re coming into a European location after an international flight, we ask our hotel in advance about pick up and transfer service. They generally have someone they recommend with a fixed price. It’s always worked out great even with delayed flights. The only city so far where we’ve been told that the taxi stand is the best option has been Dublin which is right outside the airport arrival doors and very efficient. If you’re thinking about using a company that has problems with delayed flights but wants payment up front, that’s a red flag to go elsewhere. We've been on way too many international flights where our arrival time is not what it was suppose to be especially over the last couple of years.

Posted by
4003 posts

Correction - I went back to check my travel notes and the transfer companies we used with no prepayment was pre-Covid. Specifically Rome and Amsterdam.
Since then we have used booking.com for airport transfers and zonetransfers.com from Cordoba to Toledo, both in Spain. We had to pre-pay those.

For us, with regard to Welcome Pickups, we were ticked off that something like an hour delay and they cancelled. The driver was willing to change the time. It’s not like they were at the airport already waiting. We texted them from the airport before we even left. We felt they had plenty of time to have a driver for us. And of course, the credit was annoying too. our flight was not early in the morning, it was midday. So we had to take a taxi which was fine.

We have decided that unless we are arriving very, very early, or very, very late, we’ll just take taxis from now on.

Posted by
1 posts

Don't waste your money. I booked and paid online. My flight was delayed and I sent messages to let the driver know, and even received an email to say 'don't worry, the driver will monitor flight arrival time'. When I did arrive, I received a message to say driver had cancelled the booking and left. No refund. No nothing. Appalling service.

We used Welcome Pickups in Lisbon several years ago. Our plane was early rather than late. When we arrived at designated meeting space, many drivers were waiting for other passengers-not ours. I messaged our driver to let him know we had arrived. He hadn’t bothered to monitor our flight so we stood with our luggage over 30 minutes waiting for him. Once he arrived, he was pleasant and delivered us to our hotel. We had payed in advance. I would have appreciated a tad better service.

Posted by
219 posts

We previously used booking.com for pickups and will go back to using them in the future.

Thank you for mentioning the Booking.com option, @Barbara. I had never noticed they offered this option. I just booked out transfers to/from our hotel in Istanbul using their service and got two bonuses: 10% off as a genius member plus I got to use $27 I had earned in my "wallet". Win-win.

Posted by
497 posts

We are just back from Greece and used Welcome Pickups for the first time, coming in and leaving. Last year we used the train and metro and it was very crowded. Doable but this year I decided to splurge. I always use public transport when I travel but this was really a nice exception. Both drivers were prompt and friendly with chilled water bottles waiting for us in very comfortable cars. We both thought it was worth it and I may be looking into a pickup service on other travels in the future.

Posted by
4 posts

My take, after a general review of search results, is that the Welcome Pickup service in Greece is well-regarded, and the one in Paris is not. I am trying Welcome Pickups for the first time on an upcoming trip to Thessaloniki. I had less-than-great experiences with taxi drivers in Scotland and Paris. In Scotland, I paid with GBP, including a tip, and the driver gave me old paper Scottish money in change. I was unable to change it, and it was not accepted anywhere. One very kind teller at a bank took a fresh note from her purse and exchanged it for me (she wasn't allowed to, but took pity on my taxi driver experience). In Paris, I paid the fare, plus tip, and the driver spotted a higher value Euro note and tried to talk me into paying with that and he would give me change. I said "non, merci"

I like that Welcome Pickup is pay-in-advance and then I only need to worry about a tip upon arrival. I don't care if I'm paying a little more--I lost a lot of valuable sight-seeing time and shoe leather trying to chase down a solution to my bad Scottish money.