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Old 10-15-2013, 01:10 PM   #1
mikedoyleblogger
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Karmel Shuttle experience

So we just got back from the long weekend at DLR and for the first time we used Karmel Shuttle instead of DRE. (For background, we used to use DRE but decided to stop since they switched to all-hourly service which can leave you waiting at the airport a long time. We already disliked the 90-minute-plus trip back to LAX from the HoJo on DRE.)

We had a good experience with Karmel and will use them on our next trip, too. They arrived within five minutes at LAX to get us to DLR, and were 15 minutes early at the HoJo to get us back to the airport. We didn't hit traffic, so the door-to-door trips took 45 minutes to the HoJo (with us as the only pickup, and no trolling for additional airport passengers, which Karmel guarantees--they only pick up reservations), and an hour from the HoJo back to LAX (with one additional pickup at Anabella Inn.) We loved how much faster the trip was.

They did charge my card in advance for the entire round-trip the night before our outbound flight to LAX. That came as a surprise because they don't say *anywhere* on their website that they will do that--they instead say there that you must show your credit card and pay in person for each leg of the trip. It wasn't a bother, just a surprise. I immediately called them to make sure the drivers would know we had now prepaid, and they assured me thew would. (And they did, so again, no problem.)

The only wonky part, and this is more in terms of being, er, interesting than anything else, was the drivers. Our driver on arrival had a bad cold and told us after our run he was going home to rest. We thought, "Great, just what we need, to get sick the moment we get to DLR." We didn't, but he really should not have been on the road that day. He could (and may) have ruined some family's vacation by touching their luggage, shaking their hands, and getting them sick on arrival.

Our driver back to LAX was a very warm, friendly old man who did not stop talking the entire hour from the HoJo to Anabella Inn to LAX. Everyone in the van just smiled and went with it.

The second driver did tell us that Karmel gets most of its businesses now (something like 135 out of 150 daily trips) from visitors from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and that their domestic business has mostly dried up since the recession. He said the company reached out to travel agents in those countries to forge partnerships for business, and (I think he said) primarily DLR business. That was an interesting thing to learn.

So overall a pleasant experience and better than our last trip on DLR, which took a lot longer to pick us up and get us to our destination in both directions. And we did ride with Canadian fellow Disney fans back to LAX.
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Old 10-15-2013, 01:13 PM   #2
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Thanks for giving the review and feedback. We are booked to use them in a couple of days so it's good to read recent reports!
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Old 10-15-2013, 01:14 PM   #3
mikedoyleblogger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwigirls View Post
Thanks for giving the review and feedback. We are booked to use them in a couple of days so it's good to read recent reports!
You're welcome!
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Old 10-15-2013, 04:13 PM   #4
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We have used them a couple times - once from Long Beach after returning from Catalina Island and once from LAX. They have been reliable and always recommend them when folks ask for a shuttle.

Glad you had a good experience too.

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Old 10-15-2013, 04:34 PM   #5
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I have used them too, and it was a good experience.
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Old 10-15-2013, 04:42 PM   #6
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Do they greet you in the airport with your name on a card or do you have to call them when you arrive?
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:02 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by jacs1234 View Post
Do they greet you in the airport with your name on a card or do you have to call them when you arrive?
You call them when you arrive, after you claim any checked luggage. They say you need to give your reservation number (you get two--one for each leg of the trip), but they only really ask your last name when you call. They dispatch directly from the airports, so they tell you to call after you claim your luggage because they arrive very quickly.
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacs1234 View Post
Do they greet you in the airport with your name on a card or do you have to call them when you arrive?
No they don't you have to call them
We used them in 2011 and wasn't very happy with the service I got back to LAX the driver almost didn't take us *** of the amount of luggage we had - they also had a family on board

I basically had to force him to take us as they gave us such a late pick up time compared to our flight
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:10 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Aussie Princess View Post
No they don't you have to call them
We used them in 2011 and wasn't very happy with the service I got back to LAX the driver almost didn't take us *** of the amount of luggage we had - they also had a family on board

I basically had to force him to take us as they gave us such a late pick up time compared to our flight
I'm sorry to hear that. I wonder if that used to be the case at the airport? They definitely do have you call them from the airport when you arrive now. You have to or else they will not dispatch your van--when you call they tell you the vehicle number to look out for. It is true you actually don't have to call them for your return trip, though. They will show up at the hotel as scheduled. I do also recall the website sets out luggage limits per person (I think it's two bags per person.) Karmel is a shared van service, as well, so unless you reserve and pay extra for a private shuttle vehicle, there may be other parties sharing your van trip with you. It's probably best for anyone considering using them just to be sure and review the website for all their current policies to not get caught up short during your trip.
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Old 10-15-2013, 10:53 PM   #10
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New Zealanders here and we used them in April. Have previously used Super Shuttles but found Karmel to be much better for the reasons you gave. Both legs of our round trip we shared with Australian families and our 1st driver was very knowledgeable about NZ and Australia and accepted tips in our currencies so you may be right about the increased custom from our part of the world
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Old 10-16-2013, 09:48 AM   #11
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FYI and according to my understanding of having used Karmel twice, they have a dedicated pickup option only for you. It picks your group up and takes you right to your hotel. That costs more but saves time.

They also have a lower rate where you share the shuttle with others. That will take longer to be picked up and to get to your hotel. If your group is bigger (like 4-5) then the dedicated shuttle costs about the same as the shared shuttle if memory serves.

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Old 10-27-2013, 02:06 PM   #12
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Thought I would report back with my experience too, in case others are looking at this thread in the future.

Overall I was very happy with Karmel Shuttles and would use again. They were one of the cheapest for our trip (2 adults and 2 children from LAX to BWPPI and return), and they provided good service, with just a few hiccups.

The pick up process was smooth. We were slightly worried as we had entered our flight arrival time (6.30am) and they had listed 6.40am as our pick up time, however by the time we got off the plane, and through luggage and customs it was closer to 7.30am. But it was all fine - Called once we had our luggage, they said it would be approximately 20 minutes till they got there and it was. Do listen to the number of the van coming to get you, as there were others that arrived before ours. Driver was great, very courteous, got our bags, checked that 8 year old niece was old enough and tall enough to not need car seat etc. He did talk constantly the whole way to the hotel, giving us information on all the rides at DLR, which were the best to ride, how to use fastpass, strategies for getting on rides, best time to ride different attractions etc. No new information for me due to having read this board, and it was a bit draining, but he was trying to be helpful and gave good advice. Also gave us some brochures, current time schedules etc. We were booked as a shared ride, but there was only us in the van.

On the way back the driver was very different! And the journey was not as smooth. We were booked for 6.15pm pick up, and they arrived at 6pm. Which was fine as we were ready and they had said they could be 15 mins early. There was another party picked up at the same time from the same hotel. The driver however was very quiet/surly, and did not greet us, only stated our name to check we were the right group. He barely spoke the entire trip.
Packed our bags into the van, but as we were also picking up another party, he stacked them all on one side- so as soon as we went around the corner they all crashed to the bottom of the van. My mother was not pleased as the case on top was her carry on, which she had packed breakables in to ensure they remained safe!

Then the fun began - the driver did not have the correct details for the other pick up, I do not know if that was the other customers fault, his fault, or the company's fault. He had it listed as a pick up at the Holiday Inn 1520 S.Harbor Blvd. Except there is no Holiday Inn at that address. We drove past that address, then back down Harbor, went over to a Holiday inn a few blocks away, came back to the Camelot Inn which is at 1520 S. Harbor Blvd, then drove over to the Holiday inn on Walnut, where the party was. By which time it was 6.40pm, so a LOT of wasted time. The other group picked up at the same time as us was getting quite concerned about missing their check in time/flight. It was great for the party waiting to be picked up that the company kept looking for them, even though the details were wrong, and even though they had not confirmed their pick up as required, but it was very frustrating for us. He was on the phone to head office most of the time, talking to them about what to do, my daughter said she heard him swear a few times, which is not great with children in the van.
I was also concerned that the party picked up there had 2 small children (I would guess aged 2 and 4), and there was no car seats. I thought I had read on here that children aged 7 and under needed car seats in cars and shuttles. But there was no car seats, and nothing was said about them being needed. I am assuming that the party would have needed to provide them themselves, but maybe they had not been informed?

After that it was a smooth trip in to the airport, and we arrived only a few minutes after the scheduled arrival time (7.15pm), so all was well with flights etc.

So, as I said, overall I was happy with them. There was a problem with that listing but I don't know how it arose, that caused most of our issues. Please if you have a booking, call and confirm they have your details correct the day before your pick up!
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Old 10-27-2013, 02:12 PM   #13
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Eww, what a rotten return trip. I'm sorry that happened. Did you contact Karmel to complain? I emailed them after our trip (to commend them) and they responded pretty quickly. There's a web form on their site to submit comments.
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Old 10-27-2013, 02:18 PM   #14
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Haven't contacted them yet, but I plan to. Will compliment them on the arrival trip, but let them know our concerns about the departure one.
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Old 10-27-2013, 11:56 PM   #15
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Thanks for the review. I usually use super shuttle but it's great to know other options.
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