Check your Groundlink Reservations

I've not always had a great relationship with GroundLink, but after a bad initial impression they've worked their way back into my regular travel routine. They provide a convenient means of scheduling a planned ride to or from an airport, at a reasonable rate, and every ride I've taken through them has been reliable and comfortable.

I recommend them, generally, as I've found them at least as reliable as local options in Boston at similar price points; much more economical given that I live in the exurbs than Uber; and with a global presence allowing me to schedule both departure and arrival cars from the same system (assuming I'm not renting a car). I've found their wait-time and flight-tracking to be extremely fare, although I've seen complaints from people who've been 45 minutes late for their car and gotten charged for the excess wait time.

That said, if you happen to modify your reservation for any reason, you should double check what you've booked. I was recently updating some information on our reservations to and from the airport to catch our twin's first flight, and noticed that rather than the SUV I'd booked, we now had an Economy car, which clearly wasn't going to fit the five of us (in three child seats) and our luggage.

Unexpected class change

GroundLink modification, unmodified

The unmodified reservation for an SUV.

Pricing might change tooltip

The tooltip indicates that the price may change.

The original reservation showed an SUV, and a price of $173 ($145.95 after gratuity, taxes, credits applied, and discount). Trying to edit the payment details brings-up an interstitial asking for confirmation, as doing so might result in a different rate. This isn't much different than modifying a refundable hotel reservation or car rental, where the pricing changes based on the company's expected demand for those dates, leading to potential savings if you rebook at the new rate or potentially a more expensive daily rate if you need to modify the reservation.

Repricing Groundlink reservation

The price did indeed change.

After proceeding to the next screen, I did see a price drop to $113 ($85.95 after everything was applied). I double checked, and everything looked fine: note that the top of the booking summary section says "SUV Car Pickup".

Updated reservation

Groundlink confirmed the change; but now the vehicle has changed.

The subsequent confirmation page however shows Car Class: ECONOMY. While the booking-update flow appears to respect the reservation's original booking class, it prices out and eventually books the default, economy class.

Error updating

Unfortunately, the site now errors when trying to correct the vehicle class.

Unfortunately, subsequently trying to update the reservation from the Web site resulted in errors.

What was I trying to change?

GroundLink has partnerships with various airlines, which if you provide you frequent-flier number, will give you a token amount of points. For United MileagePlus, this is 250 miles. The value of miles is hard to calculate, but this is roughly $3-$6 towards a United or Star Alliance flight, so arguably not worth the effort I ended-up going through. Since I've cut-back on my United flying, however, it provides a convenient way of resetting the expiration on a moderate stash of miles. Often GroundLink has discount codes you can find online, or by simply meandering on their site long enough. If you haven't yet registered with GroundLink, you can use an invite code to get a small credit off of your first ride; my GroundLink invite code is bh6f7.

Whether you've a new account or not, if you've got a Visa Signature or Visa Infinite card, you should register the card for additional discounts—this is the 15% discount and $30 credits you see in the screen shot. Adding your Visa card after registering with the invite code will give you $40 in credits, and allow you to save 15% (effectively paying your gratuity) on each ride. Occasionally American Express has offers which are worth a little more, when you log into your account online or through a mobile app.

Fixing by using both Mobile App and Web site

I've never had as much trouble trying to book a reservation that I was able to eventually book online. To get the final reservation, I actually ended-up needing to make the reservation on the mobile application, connect the UA MileagePlus number through the Web site, and then fix the car class in the mobile app. The mobile application had other bugs which, while confusing, didn't end-up causing problems as long as you ignored them: specifically, the pick-up date selection didn't let you book if you connected it to a flight, but you could manually set the time. It used different means of estimating arrival time depending on where you were in the booking flow on the app as well, which given our timing meant about an hour difference in its estimate. Oddly, this was better than the Web site, where I couldn't get past the time selection at all, requiring the initial reservation to be made on the mobile application.

Groundlink iOS Application

Fortunately, the mobile app did work to fix the vehicle class.

Groundlink final reservation

Finally, the reservation was corrected.

GroundLink Experiences

I reported this issue to GroundLink customer support, who says that it has been forwarded to their IT team. I'm not convinced that the class-change issue is entirely new, as it would explain an unexpected change in a reservation I'd made previously. I often don't need to change a reservation, and without the kids have usually used the economy class vehicle so this wouldn't have been a bug I would regularly stumble across regularly. Despite booking their lowest level, I've often gotten higher-class vehicles since their drivers would presumably otherwise not have any fare1.

The drivers have all been very professional, a few have been loquacious, although I've never felt like I needed to converse with the driver, especially on return trips after getting off of a long flight. Pick-ups from the airport usually have bottles of water available, although a few drivers haven't offered this. Gratuity is built into the price in most cases (exceptions have a separate line item, for instance NYC, but is still paid up-front), which simplifies the process; any issues can be addressed with GroundLink support after the fact, rather than relying on withholding gratuity.

My only really bad experience happened early on, which I alluded to in the first sentence. My wife and I, along with our infant daughter, were flying back home and minutes before getting on our connecting flight back to Boston I noticed a message that our pick-up had been canceled. When I called support, they were unable to get a different driver, so we took a cab for the hour-long trip back home (which actually came-out to approximately the same cost). GroundLink has a satisfaction guarantee, advertising your next ride free in situations like ours, but they cap this at a $75 credit which doesn't cover even a basic car between our house and the airport.

  1. obviously, not something to rely on if one needs a different class