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My prime time shuttle experiences on my December Disneyland trip. Long. Very Long.
This is the Tale of Two Trips.
Trip One: I fly into Long Beach (LGB) airport for the first time using JetBlue. I didn’t realize that LGB was such a small airport. That is important because Prime Time Shuttle doesn’t have vans leaving there all the time – it is a reservation system even for arrivals. So, I have my res, but JetBlue is late and I miss my shuttle window. There is a voicemail waiting for me on my arrival (+1 for PTS) telling me that the driver has already left, and I will be serviced by the 8:20 shuttle barring a miracle. (It is currently about 6:45ish). Not happy but a late flight isn’t their fault but my interest in using LGB again is waning. I’m afraid of heights so imagine my feeling when I walk out of the cabin onto a very swaying outdoor ramp. Sigh. None of this is bad per se or anyone’s fault, just not putting me into a good frame of mind.
I go to the luggage pickup area – it’s outside! Covered but outside! Cultural moment. Get my bag about 7pm and listen to my voicemail again. After getting a bit of guidance (small airport but still a bit confusing at night for a newbie) I find the shuttle area. The PTS shuttle is there and the driver explains that he is there for a later flight but will take me to my hotel. He is a nice guy and takes my bag (dumb move on my part – but turns out not to be an issue in the end) and I call PTS to report in. They explain that I will have to wait for that van. I just point out that this will be a very slow trip.
Find a TSA guard in the airport and ask what to do while waiting for the shuttle and he takes me on a guided tour of the upstairs aviation museum in the terminal. Cool. Se discuss the architecture of the terminal, etc. Short tour but a really cool act of kindness that make me stop feeling cranky. Find the airport restaurant and have a nice Reuben. Get back to the van in time for the trip.
A few other people are now in the van including an member of the US Army and his girlfriend. Very friendly and we have a nice chat. Go way past 8:20, 8:30, etc. Finally get everyone on board and we start to head out. Then I get a call from the same lady from the PTS shuttle who tells me that I will have to pay the driver extra because I’m using an improper voucher. (Everything was booked via my travel agent through Disney). They tell me I’m using an Orange County (SNA) voucher and not a Long Beach (LGB) voucher. Wrong, but the driver has my voucher. I explain she is wrong but she doesn’t buy it. Just tells me finally that when I get off the van at my hotel I need to pay more. Needless to say, no I’m not, but I decide not to argue with her. I figure I’ll just call the local PD if they try to scam more money out of me.
Anyway, as soon as I get off the phone the driver apologizes and tells me that the call wasn’t supposed to be for me. I’m really feeling for the poor guy as he’s embarrassed by the call and being way late. I feel better knowing that there is a mix up. Turns out that half the van is full of military personnel, including a Captain with her three kids, that have SNA vouchers. The Defense Department had them fly into LGB for whatever reason instead of SNA so they had the wrong vouchers.
Anyway, again, we make the first stop at the Marriott where the fine military folks depart (after we thanked them for their service) and then the phone calls begin. The Captain is told to ante up another $80 because of the voucher issues and is told to call PTS. This takes a while. The poor drive is just embarrassed to no end at this point. We finally get on our way, and I get to the Candy Cane Inn at 10pm. A full three hours after getting my bag at the baggage claim area. Not acceptable in any way, shape or form. Cheap but essentially blows my first night to oblivion. I gave the driver a buck and he seemed stunned as he kept apologizing to everyone (probably not as much as it seems now). Finally there.
One Star. Having to wait so long for another van is part of flying into a tertiary airport but getting called and being told I have to pay even more is just plain wrong. In the end it was just a mistake, but seemed like a scam at the time.
Trip Two: Got an early morning pick up. I think I’m supposed to be there at 7:45 (could be wrong on the hour). Shuttle shows up 3 minutes after that with about half a van full already onboard. I’m solo and the only one going to Long Beach, so I sit up front. We drive directly to Long Beach. One passenger is worried that they are on the wrong van but the driver explains that LAX is next. I am dropped off with bag.
Five Stars. Picked up on time. Dropped off on time/early. No hassle, no drama, friendly driver.
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Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. Sorry about the nightmare journey to Disneyland. I had to laugh though about the baggage reclaim, as I remember having the same reaction when we flew in there.
Remembering our friend Bill together at the BoardWalk sunset meet as part of our Bagman Days trip, which is now into the WDW portion.
Having done Long Beach once, I would have no problems doing it again. It was just a culture shock. Having the bag claim outside is probably a brilliant idea 95%+ of the time in that climate. I also had not problem with the outdoor ramp leaving as I was mentally prepared for it.
I put this review up here because it really was almost like two different companies. PTS really can't be blamed for delays resulting from a missed flight, but the whole wanting more money just pushed it into the twilight zone. I got another service's card as their driver used as an opportunity to explain that PTS was always like that, etc., Salesmanship.
I'm going to do other reviews of my trip, most of which are quite good, but this was an interesting example of how California is laid back whereas Florida needs planning. I was definitely in a Florida state of mind that night.