Airlines

Getting to Downtown New Orleans from the Airport

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My default means of transportation from an airport is usually a rental car or taxi (much as I dislike them) unless I’m very familiar with the area. When planning for my Labor Day weekend trip to New Orleans however, I was feeling pretty cheap because I knew how much I’d be spending on good food and wine. So I way overthought my options.

Taxis – a flat $33+ tip to the downtown area. There’s usually not a wait, but the drivers often refuse credit cards even though they’re required to take them.

Rental Cars – It was $100 for the weekend, so I figured between the cab in, the cab out to Metarie to be near the airport for our last night, and the cab from there to the airport, I’d basically break even. And if we did want to stray outside the CBD and French Quarter limits over the weekend, it would save us some money and possibly time. But parking would be an issue. The hotels were $32 a night, street parking would be free if I could find it (especially post-hurricane), but with the Southern Decadence parade coming through I didn’t want to always have to be worrying about finding a spot within walking distance of our hotel.

Public Transportation Bus – For only $2, the Jefferson Transit E-2 bus goes from the airport to the intersection of Tulane Ave and Loyola in the downtown area, but only until 6:52PM on weekdays and not at all on the weekends. So that wasn’t an option.

Airport Shuttle – The Airport Shuttle New Orleans is similar to Super Shuttle, taking folks to/from the airport to downtown New Orleans for a flat fee for $20.

My friend had emailed me about this last option while I was in flight, so as soon as we landed I pulled up the webpage and checked it out. I’m not a fan of Super Shuttle because saving $25 or less is rarely worth waiting an extra hour or two while everyone else gets picked up or dropped off. However, they took last minute reservations and the buses left regularly so I decided to go to the information booth near baggage claim to find out more before I grabbed a cab.

I walked up and asked her if they had availability on the next bus, and if so, when it was leaving. This was clearly the wrong thing to ask since she gave me directions on how to find the bus to ask the driver. I wouldn’t be able to buy tickets on board, but if it was so important I find out when it was leaving, that’s how I would need to find out.

Ouch. I tried a different question which was how often the average bus waited at the airport before leaving. That apparently was 15 minutes, which was a perfectly acceptable option. Even if I missed two buses, it wouldn’t be like waiting an hour for the first one to come.

I paid my $20 and headed out to the bus stand. The area is a little confusing because they have signs proclaiming Route 1, 2, etc and nothing was mentioned about those, but everyone out there is super nice. The first bus driver waved me to the next one because it was full and that driver came right up and took my luggage, assuring me that it was the right bus and we wouldn’t be long in leaving.

And we weren’t. We maybe waited another 10 minutes for the bus to fill and we were off. The driver, a NOLA native, provided intermittent commentary on major sites we were passing, but for the most part left us alone. The Intercontinental New Orleans was the 3rd stop along the route so I had no complaints at all on the timing. I saved ~$20 and arrived only 25 minutes later than I would have in a cab. Not bad.

Note: If you have more than one person in your party, a cab is going to be cheaper and quicker! I was surprised to see the number of couples paying $40 to take the shuttle instead of a cab. Also, it seemed like folks staying the French Quarter were going to be at the end of the route, so unless you will enjoy the site seeing via airport bus, consider another option.

Drinks in New Orleans
In Search of Praline Bacon
Dinner in New Orleans
Hotel Review: Intercontinental New Orleans
Labor Day Brunch in New Orleans

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  1. Pingback: Getting to Downtown New Orleans from the Airport | Global Airport Parking

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