Author Archives: Rich Senior

A week in the life of a Chauffeur – Day 4

Following on from A Week in the life of a chauffeur – Day 3. Find out how our resident chauffeur David gets on with some more airport transfers and a shopping trip. A chauffeurs work is never dull.

A little bit about airport transfers

Wake up

I jump out of bed, check my flight app to see what time my Client’s flight is due, and see it is delayed 2 hours with an ETA of 10am. The flight is coming in from the Far East and I know only too well that very often delays are made up in the last few hours of the flight. My unwritten rule, without fail, is to be too early rather than have the stress of potentially being late; it’s just not worth it.

Usually a Client will take between 20–40 minutes from the flight being at the gate to getting to Arrivals Hall, but I know of at least 2 of my Clients that have their ‘de-planing’ routine so meticulously planned that they can be in arrivals less than 10 minutes after the flight has landed.

Gatwick airport

Gatwick is one of my favourite airports. The Priority Parking, whilst expensive, is fantastic and means that I can park on the same level as the arrivals hall, rather than have to get escalators and elevators – this saves at least 12 minutes walking and queuing for lifts.

Gatwick Airport, Norwegian Air, Gatwick, England

I wash my hands and get my sanitising products and give the car a good clean, making sure to refresh the supply of hand sanitising wipes and gel. My next job is not until 19:00H and so in theory I have almost a whole day free once I have dropped my Client back to their home. Even so, I put together a couple of meals for the day ahead, grab my coffee, fresh mask and leave home.

My arrival time at Gatwick is around 07:00H and so I employ another chauffeur trick and head to one of the many airport hotels at Gatwick which has minimum parking charges. Be warned though, some hotels have got wise to this, and so their parking charges are on a par with the airport prices.

Arriving at the hotel I head to the large atrium and organise a coffee (also, spending money at the hotel restaurant brings my parking charges down). I check my flight app again and, true to form, the pilot has made up 95 minutes. So the flight is now only 25 minutes late (not the original 2 hours that was shown at 4am).

Plan, Plan and then plan again

I know I keep talking about timings and the need to plan, but this really is a fundamental part of the job. I have been a chauffeur now for 15 years and so I am only too aware of the need to be prepared for anything and everything.

I work out that I need to be in the Priority Parking garage in 20 minutes and that gives me a few minutes to check through my emails and messages. There is nothing that needs my immediate attention, so I drive over to the parking and walk into the Arrivals Hall.

chauffeur cleaning an s-class mercedes

Adding a personal touch …

My Client today is a new Client both for me and iChauffeur, so I don’t know their preferred coffee and/or breakfast snack. This is important information to feed back to the office, so they can build up a client profile, and it also helps ensure that they match the right chauffeur for this Client.

I send an SMS to the Client advising them of my exact location in the terminal and to see whether they would like anything to eat or drink. I always make sure that I am well positioned in the Arrivals Hall – it never ceases to amaze me how many chauffeurs I see in the cafe’s or casually shopping without checking their phones – let alone standing with a nameboard.

arrivals hall flight list

I do not get a reply from the Client and so I remain standing with my digital name board clearly visible (never leaning against a wall or standing with my hands in my pockets). It is little things like this that set some chauffeurs apart.

I still get a little nervous meeting new Clients. What will they be like, what kind of mood will they be in, a thousand questions go through my head as I stand ramrod straight. I am on super high alert now, and try to make eye contact with passengers as they arrive. My Client sees me immediately and waves from the frosted glass doors in the terminal.

I introduce myself and take his luggage, and ask whether he needs to buy anything from the M&S, (often Clients want to get a few basic groceries before they head home). This initial conversation is a great way to get a good idea of the Client’s priorities, whether they are in a rush, or they have time for me to organise coffee for them.

Your wish is my command

Today I ascertain that the Client is relaxed and he wants to get some last minute gifts for his parents. He is staying with them for a few days’ holiday; a break from his busy life in Singapore.

My Client’s parents live in Kingston and so I suggest rather than getting gifts at the airport, I could take him to the large shopping centre in Kingston, where there is a huge John Lewis store.

“Great idea”, my Client exclaims and so I just let him know I will call the office to advise them of the change of schedule so they can amend the booking details.

As we take the motorway into London we discuss what gifts to purchase for his parents. My Client also says he needs to get a haircut and could do with a wet shave. I offer to organise this for him and whilst he is at the barber I can shop for the gifts: a pair of Mont Blanc cuff links for dad and a Hermes scarf for mum (lucky parents).

Talking of cuff links reminds as to why I always have a spare set of cufflinks in my car. A colleague of mine tells the story of his Client, the groom on his wedding day. In the car en route to his own wedding and he lost a cuff link. My colleague ended up giving his Client his own cuff-links and ever since I heard this story I always have a spare set of cufflinks in my glove box.

Back to Kingston and shopping completed I head to the barber shop located just on the outskirts of the town, collect my Client and take him to his parent’s home.

Working up a sweat

It’s now 1.45pm, and although I have no work until 7pm this evening, I am reluctant to head home in case any work comes in. I call the office to advise them my current location and that I am free until 18:00. There is no work and I quite like the idea of a quiet afternoon at home and maybe a run around the local park.

I get home at 14:30, hang up my suit, don my running kit and spend the next hour puffing my way around the Surrey Hills. It is a beautiful part of the world but, as the name would suggest, it is really hilly so by the time I get home I am pretty exhausted. 

I shower and once again check my flight app – my job for this evening is on time, meaning that I need to leave the house at around 16.30.  I would not usually allow so long to get to Gatwick from my home, however there have been some protests recently from ancillary airport workers demanding better working conditions. I have just seen this on our iChauffeur WhatsApp group that there is a unplanned protest at Gatwick North which will affect traffic to and from the terminal.

The WhatsApp group chat is absolutely brilliant – it gives us all a way to communicate to each other about any traffic issues and roadworks across the UK, very often prior to any reports on the radio or TV.

Daily routine

My routine now is really a repeat of this morning – clean and sanitise the car and then get to the airport hotel, organise a coffee (this time decaffeinated) and check my flight app.

The airport pick up goes smoothly and I drop my Client, another regular, at his Chelsea mews house at 21:00.

By the time I get home it is just before 10pm, and I start planning for the following day. Most people watch the news at this time, but I listen to the radio throughout the day and so I probably know what is going on in the world as well and any newsreader! I take my temperature and email it to the office (this is part of our new iChauffeur COVID protocols, we have to take daily temperature checks and email the office the night with our results before any we go to work the next day). 

I give the car a final clean for the day, and then plan for the next day. Tomorrow I am taking a little boy and his mum to a famous Harley Street hospital, the little boy has been quite ill, although he is now definitely on the road to recovery he still needs to shield which means I have to be super cautious myself. As a chauffeur I am part of the essential workforce and have been working throughout the pandemic. Given my job is around people and transport I am extra cautious when I am out to ensure that I do not get infected and do not run the risk of infecting anyone else.

I plan my route for tomorrow and set my alarm a little earlier as I want to spend an extra 30 minutes sanitising the car to make sure it is safe for my client and her son in the morning.

Day 5

Read – A week in the life of a chauffeur – Day 5

Chauffeur resources

A week in the life of a chauffeur – Day 3

S-class mercedes parked outside Harrods
S-class mercedes parked outside Harrods

Following on from A Week in the life of a chauffeur – Day 2. Find out how David gets on with todays bespoke tasks. He is out on the road again and ready to serve.

This morning I wake up at 05:00H, again probably because I have trained my body to function on 5 hours sleep.

I have a small home gym in my garage, and I spent 40 minutes on cardio and some weights as I have a long day ahead in the car with no real opportunity to do any exercise.

A day trip out to Oxfordshire

My Clients are staying at a very exclusive hotel in Knightsbridge and their pick-up time is 08:00H. Timing is not ideal as I need to get out to Bicester. I will need to drive through West London in rush hour and the last thing my Clients want is to spend precious time in traffic. The route I have planned to get to Bicester is considerably longer in terms of mileage, but it will avoid much of the traffic. Many chauffeurs would not do this as the journey will cost more because in fuel, but for me it is more important that my Clients start their journey smoothly. The first 10 minutes of any journey really dictates the tone for the day and it is so vital that the day starts well.

I pull up to the hotel and chat with Steve, the head concierge and ask him about my Clients.

Again this is a small detail but the more insight I can get on my Clients the better, it can be anything from the couple are crazy about the Royal Family to one of the Clients is a famous chef in California and really craves privacy.

Steve tells me that the Clients are a young Chinese couple who seem very much in love, but nothing more.

I send an SMS to the Clients letting them know I am outside and about five minutes later Mr Kim appears without his partner. “Oh no!” I think immediately, have the couple had a row or is she ill? My mind races with all the possibilities and how this could impact on the day I have carefully planned out.

The Engagement

I greet Mr Kim with a traditional namaste, and he responds in kind and then tells me he plans to propose to his girlfriend over lunch and wants the occasion to be romantic and memorable. Although I am a big fan of Bicester Village, I am not sure that proposing to your girlfriend in a retail village is the most romantic gesture.

Mr Kim wants my advice and recommendations for the day. I tell him I had booked a table at a beautiful country house restaurant for their lunch, however I ask him to leave it with me, and I will try to come up with some suggestions that we can discuss when we arrive at the village. There he may have a few moments away from his girlfriend.

So now I have about 2 and a half hours to come up with ideas for Mr Kim and how to make his proposal truly memorable. His girlfriend appears and I give Mr Kim a conspiratorial wink and open the car for the couple.

Interior of s-class mercedes with cream leather.

The S-Class purrs into action as we pull out of the hotel and head towards the picturesque Berkshire countryside. My challenge now is that I need to create a beautiful experience for my Clients, but I am driving and so cannot even make any calls to start planning and investigating options for Mr Kim.

My brain goes into overdrive as I mentally try to re-plan the day for the Clients. As I mentioned, chauffeurs need to develop good relationships with concierges, and also Maître d’s. There are many beautiful hotels and restaurants in that particular area and my brother happens to be married to the maître d for one of the most romantic and famous hotels locally.

Chauffeur Guide

The journey is uneventful, and as we drive I switch into ‘chauffeur-guide’ mode and share with the Clients little known facts about the region. We pass by the exit for Oxford and I tell them about how Christ Church College has had no less than 13 prime ministers as well as being home to the world smallest Cathedral.

The apartment at Bicester village

Bicester Village

We arrive around 10:30 at Bicester and park in the VIP parking, only a few steps away from the village. Discreetly I advise Mr Kim that I have a plan of sorts but will need sometime to organise the fine details. Mr Kim and I arrange to have a call in 30 minutes, and we agree to head off in 3 hours for lunch.

As soon as the Clients are out of view, I pull out my mobile phone and call the Maître d at le Belmond aux Quatre Saisons. I explain the situation and organise a private dining experience with a harpist for lunch, plus champagne and roses (it may sound corny but in my experience most women love flowers).

I call the country house hotel I had originally booked and express my apologies and cancel the reservation. I then call Mr Kim to discuss the Belmond option, which my Client informs me sounds perfect. Mr Kim asks me to organise a huge bouquet of flowers to give his partner, his budget is £200.00 and so I am fairly sure I will be able to organise this for him, even in only a 2 hour window.

I ring the office and advise them of the day’s developments and the office organise the flowers for me to collect from the closest florist.

Flowers collected and secured safely in the boot I am back in the VIP parking ready for Mr Kim and his partner to arrive, and I get into RTO mode.

I glimpse the personal shopper assigned to the couple struggling with an array of bags from the Haute couture boutiques in the Village which we carefully place in the boot. It’s a tight squeeze and I take extra care to ensure that the beautiful bouquet of flowers is untouched. The hotel is only 20 minutes away and we weave through the pretty villages and market towns and arrive just after 13:45H. I pull up to the elegant manor house and escort Mr Kim and his wife to the hotel entrance where they are met by the Maitre D.

le Belmond aux Quatre Saisons

le Belmond aux Quatre Saisons

I know the couple will be at least 2 hours and so I use this time to go to a local supermarket to buy a card and bottle of champagne for them – it is not every day I get to help plan a proposal and I feel privileged that Mr Kim has entrusted this with me.

At around 17:00H the couple, now fiancé and fiancée emerge from the Hotel. Clearly, they have had an amazing experience, and they are walking hand in hand towards the car. The flowers I procured for Mr Kim are on the front seat (as agreed with Mr Kim) and I hand them to him discreetly along with my congratulations card and bottle of champagne.

Bunch of red roses

The drive back to Knightsbridge is filled with laughter, phone calls to friends and family as the couple share their happy news.

I drop the couple off at 20:00H, a full 12 hours since I first picked them up and I realise I need to eat! I park up and hurriedly seek out the Tupperware boxes I prepared early and tuck into my long overdue lunch before I start my final drive of the day ….

At home , I follow my usual car sanitisation routine before going inside to check over my emails and plan for the following day, which at the moment looks quite quiet, just a couple of Gatwick airport runs, one at 9am and the other at 19:00H. Traffic is always an issue around Gatwick, the slip road to the airport is constantly being repaired and resurfaced and this can cause a delay of hours. I plan my routes for tomorrow, including my plan B route and then head to bed.

Day 4

Read – A week in the life of a chauffeur – Day 4

Chauffeur resources

A week in the life of a chauffeur – Day 2

Chauffeur in dark blue suit opening Mercedes S Class passenger door
Chauffeur in dark blue suit opening Mercedes S Class passenger door

Following on from Week in the life of a chauffeur – Day 1, find out what the second day has in store for David, our professional chauffeur, as he navigates London in his Mercedes-Benz S-Class. We hope you enjoy the ride.

A Later Start

Today in theory is a later start. I need to be at London City airport by 07:00H. However, when I checked last night the roadworks on the main artery into London City Airport were still in full flow. So I need to allow an extra hour in case traffic has already built up. Unless you live east of City Airport (which I do not) this airport is always a challenge to get too. Again, this is a trade secret, there is a tiny little known backstreet behind the airport where parking is still reasonable. I head over there and find the last space.

Before leaving for the airport I spend 30 minutes thoroughly sanitising my car, and as always, pay special attention to areas in the car my Client from yesterday may have been in contact with. Once I am finally satisfied that the car is thoroughly cleaned I grab a new sterile mask and head off.

Flight App

I arrive at my secret street just after 6am – an hour before my Client is due to arrive. I listen to the headlines and check my flight app and see the flight is scheduled to arrive slightly ahead of time. I find it more useful to use a specific airport flight app rather than a generic one covering all UK airports. So if i’m picking up at Heathrow I will use the Heathrow app and at London city airport I will use their app. I don’t want to be stuck in a queue getting into the car park, so I wait another 20 minutes, and then make the short 3 minute drive to airport parking.

Aircraft taking off from London City Airport

Above and beyond duty

I park up, grab my iPad (which I also use as a name board) put my mask on, and walk over to the Arrivals Hall, with 15 minutes to spare before the flight lands.

As per protocol, I send an SMS to my Client advising them of my exact location in arrivals, and ask them whether they would like a tea or coffee.

I can see that the flight has landed and hear the familiar ring tone advising me that I have received an SMS. It is from my Client. She would love a green tea and a fruit salad, oh and then the bombshell; she tells me that she needed to bring all the Expo stand equipment with her, and could my car accommodate an additional 15 pieces of luggage as well as her own overnight case!?

I pride myself on being on available to help every Client, but I know that attempting to get 15  large pieces of luggage into my Mercedes-Benz S-Class, is never going to happen. From my experience, I have about 15 minutes before she will clear security, and so I call the office and relay the situation to Andy who is our Head Controller.

Passenger waiting area at London City Airport (LCY)

Today is my lucky day, or rather my Client’s lucky day. Another iChauffeur driver in a Mercedes V-Class, has just left LCA and is only 10 minutes away from the car park, and is now heading back to the airport to avert the luggage crisis.

Luggage Tip

Another tactic I deploy often, is rather than taking the Client to his/her hotel and then onto their meeting, I take the Client directly to their meeting and then head over to their hotel with their luggage and leave it with the concierge.

We managed to get right to the front at the arrivals hall, so that we could help the Client at the earliest opportunity, with what is clearly going to be a lot of luggage.

My Client is absolutely delighted that we have managed to organise transport for her luggage, and even more impressed that she will get to her first meeting with plenty of time to spare.

A new breed of lady chauffeurs

Today the V-Class colleague is one of the few lady chauffeurs I know in London. Having worked with her for many years, I know she is as capable as any of us in handling heavy and awkwardly shaped luggage, but that doesn’t stop my Client from looking slightly shocked that this elegant beautifully dressed lady I am with is actually a chauffeur.

Lady chauffeur in suit opening V-Class passenger door in London

She and I together quickly split up the luggage and arrange to meet in an hour at the hotel.

Safely ensconced in the comfort of the back seat of my car, my Client eats the fruit salad I purchased for her earlier. I have no objections to Clients eating in my car at all – we all need to eat, but even the slightest spillage of either her tea or fruit salad will make a terrible stain on the pristine cream leather seats.

The Gin and Tonic test

One thing my Father impressed upon me (and before you ask, yes he was a chauffeur also) was the ability to pass the gin and tonic test! My father said Clients should be able to sip a gin and tonic in the car whilst you are driving without causing any spillage. This means that literally my Clients should not be able to feel any sudden braking or acceleration, the journey has to be smooth from start to finish.

Generations of experience

Fortunately, my Father taught me well, and we arrive at the offices with breakfast eaten and the back seat of my car remains spotless. I park outside the offices and let the Client out directly onto the pavement. Again, a tiny detail, but I planned my route to ensure that when I arrived at the offices for the meeting, my Client would be able to exit the car directly onto the pavement (rather than run the risk of standing in the middle of a busy road opening the car door expecting my Client to negotiate her walk to the pavement whilst dodging cars and cabs).

I head over to the hotel in Shoreditch and meet up with a V-Class Chauffeur. She and I both manage to get a parking spot in the hotel courtyard, but are given strict instructions by the hotel’s Head concierge, that we can only stay in the bays for 15 minutes as a V.I.P is due to arrive.

Hotels, Concierge, Service

In this job we work a lot with hotels, and having a good relationship with all the concierges across the many 5 and 6* hotels in the capital is vital. The concierge know where the traffic cameras are hidden and the routines of police and traffic wardens around the hotel.

The role of a concierge is remarkably similar to that of a Chauffeur, the needs of our Clients are paramount. From securing a table at the newest most popular restaurant in town, to getting tickets for the finals at Roland Garros, no request is too much trouble. Being part of the iChauffeur family means I also have a great network of other chauffeurs and office personnel to go to. I remember last summer in early July a new Client decided on a Saturday morning that he and his wife wanted to see the Wimbledon’s Men’s tennis final the following day. I managed to organise this (in less than 3 hours) with the help of Andy and the team in HO.

By the time the luggage has been deposited with the concierge, it is already 10:00H, and I know my Client has requested a pickup in 3 hours to take her to her hotel.

I arrive at my gym in good time for my session which today will only be an hour.

A Chauffeur should eat well

I mentioned earlier about diet and the fact that this job can be very sedentary. I have seen chauffeurs start in the industry looking in pretty good shape, and after 5 years of being a chauffeur, they have gone up 3 suit sizes. I try to visit the gym at least 4 times a week, and the great thing about a career as a chauffeur, is that I can plan my days to include gym time and usually my gym time is when all the 9-5 people are in their offices , so I usually almost have the gym to myself.

There is nothing worse than being hungry in a remote business park waiting for a Client with nothing to eat. Usually in the morning, I take enough food for at least 2 meals, plus some healthy snacks. My job is quite sedentary and so I try to have healthy food in my car so I can avoid snacking on sugary foods.

Even if I am just doing a simple airport run, and will be away from my house for 2 hours, I still pack extra meals as I never know what is going to happen during the day (case in point from last night when I got home six and a half hours later than I originally envisaged).

Most of my fellow iChauffeur chauffeurs follow the same routine, and often if we are on a job with multiple cars, we all sit together outside tucking into our home-made meals and comparing notes. This does not work for everyone though, I know of a couple of chauffeurs who cannot resist the temptation of having food in their car, and have had their breakfast, lunch and supper by 11 am ….

The car wash

Workout completed, I drive back to collect my Client, and take her to her hotel.  My next job is not until this evening and so I head home via my favourite car wash. It may sound a bit extreme having a favourite car wash. However I think that there are only 3 car wash locations across the whole of London I would use, and I can spot immediately if the car wash is going to be good.

The secret is in the bucket the car wash guys use. If the buckets in the car wash are just regular buckets, then that’s my sign to turn the car around sharpish, and find another car wash. The reason is quite simple, the car accumulates lots of tiny pieces of grit and stones which get washed off with sponges and cleaning cloths. If the buckets do not have a special grill to collect the grit, when the cloths are being rinsed, then all that happens is that the grit and grime gets retransferred back onto the car causing lots of minute scratches, just like skates on ice.

The guys in the car wash know me well and I chat with them whilst they do an amazing job of making my car sparkle and gleam. I have been coming to this car wash for over 10 years and so we are almost like family. I recommend this car wash to all my fellow iChauffeur chauffeurs, who are equally as meticulous about their cars, and over the years I must have sent over 20 chauffeurs to them. During this time of COVID -19 they wear disposable gloves and masks which they change before each client to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Bicester Shopping Village

Bicester Village VIP

Now back at home I catch up with my administration and start planning for tomorrow. I have a Chinese couple who have booked an 8 hour ‘as directed’ hire via Bicester Village to include lunch. As an iChauffeur Client, the Chinese couple will be given free VIP passes to the Village, and it also means I get to park in the VIP parking which is the closest to the Village entrance. I know the area very well, and  also know the managers of the best restaurants and afternoon tea spots in the are,a and so I can always get a table for my Clients no matter how busy the eatery is.

Having a VIP pass also means my Clients will get additional discounts as well as hands free shopping, a personal shopper and exclusive access to the Apartment, a super luxurious lounge area nestled in the heart of Bicester Village.

I book a table for 14:30H the following day for lunch and for my Clients, have a check on roadworks and any possible trouble spots for my journey tomorrow and then have a quick 40 winks.

I know many chauffeurs can sleep in their cars but it is not something I can do. My car is essentially my place of work and for me it just doesn’t feel right sleeping in the office. Tonight should not be too late, but I have had a couple of early starts this week, and so I grab the chance for an energising power nap.

Having showered and put on a fresh shirt, I grab some fruit, a new mask and jump into my car. My Clients this evening have booked dinner at a famous restaurant in Mayfair, and I already know that the area will be swarming with chauffeurs, as it is a beautiful evening, perfect for dining al fresco.

I ring the entry phone to the large impressive house and once the automatic gates open my car glides to their Georgian mansion. I feel like I am in deep countryside such is the size of the estate it is hard to imagine that Wimbledon Village is only a 10 minute walk away.

I stand by the car and escort my clients into the car and drive down the deep gravel drive and onto the main road.

One of the many qualities a chauffeur needs is absolute discretion and tact. As well as knowing when to talk and when to listen. All qualities of a great chauffeur, and although I can hear my Clients are unhappy about something, I obviously do not make any comments.

Itinerary changes

Once we arrive at the restaurant my Client advises me that his wife is not feeling great, but they had arranged to meet friends over from Europe for the evening, and so they were keen go ahead with the dinner.

My Client said that they would be at least 2 hours as they strolled under the dark green canopied entrance of the restaurant. Usually I would find a parking spot and stretch my legs for half an hour and maybe grab a decaf coffee, but tonight I decide to just stay as close to the restaurant as possible, in case my Client’s wife starts to feel any worse. The last thing they would want is to have to wait 15 minutes for me to get to my car and meet them if they wanted to go home immediately.

As if on cue I receive a call from the Client, his wife really does not feel up to dinner and so they would like to go home as soon as I can get to them. They were so relieved when I said I was still outside, and I helped them into the car, and we headed back towards Wimbledon.

I dropped them off just after 20:30H and then called the office to let them know in case any other work is available. Sadly, for me no-one needs a chauffeur tonight and so I set out on my drive home.

8.30pm Finish

One of the many perks of the job is that I get to drive such a beautiful car. It really is an absolute joy to drive and a 3 hour journey can sometimes seem like an hour, especially when I have Clients that want to talk.

Once I have parked up in my drive  I set about cleaning and sanitising my car. I had already done most of the planning for the next day, and so I do a final check on the relevant websites to see if there are any new traffic issues that could impact on my tour the following day, set my alarm, another day over.

Day 3

Read – A week in the life of a chauffeur – Day 3

Chauffeur resources

A week in the life of a chauffeur – Day 1

Chauffeur with hands on steering wheel of Mercedes-Benz S-Class limousine
Chauffeur with hands on steering wheel of Mercedes-Benz S-Class limousine

Ever wondered what it would be like to be a professional chauffeur?

Driving the rich and famous to glamorous destinations in the world’s finest vehicles? To many this might seem like their dream gig. But what is it really like? Journey with us in this new 7 part series. Discover the demands, challenges and joys of 5 star chauffeuring, even during the global Covid pandemic.

So what does a typical week look like for our chauffeurs? What we found was that no two weeks, in fact no two days, are the same. The famous Scouting motto ‘Be Prepared’ readily applies itself to the demands of the professional private hire driver. Read on to discover the realities and changeable nature of the work, hopefully it will instil an appreciation of the challenges involved.

The COVID-19 pandemic made us re-evaluate and redefine our systems and protocols to ensure that we could protect both our clients and chauffeurs. Our industry leading Contactless Travel protocol has helped us deliver safer luxury travel. But what does this look like for our chauffeurs? How does this change the experience for our clients?

Follow David in his beautiful Mercedes-Benz S-Class to see what he got up to over the course of 7 days. Read David’s account, in his own words, of a ’typical’ work week, starting on Monday 27th July, 2020.

Day 1

Monday July 27, 2020

I know 3am is very early but to be honest I don’t really need the alarm if I have an early airport pick up or drop off. I tend to wake up naturally around 3am – it must be the last 10 years of doing this job.

Preparation

My day really starts the night before when I prepare for the next 24 hours. It may sound simple – go to the airport and then into the City, but I need to check first if there are any events or protests that could affect my route, then look out for roadworks, and log the flight into my flight tracker app on my phone. This app is great and gives me 15 minute notifications on the status of any flight. I also look at the itinerary to see if there are any addresses I am not familiar with – if so, I will go onto Google Earth, and have a look at the facade of the building so that I’ll be able to recognise it. My final part of the planning process is to map out my best route(s) – always have a backup in case of accidents.

Vehicle sanitisation

Last job of the day is to sanitise my vehicle again using our new iChauffeur cleaning protocols, which takes me another 30 minutes. Although I sanitised the car when I dropped my last passengers off about 4 hours ago, I want to take extra care to do what I can to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Back to this morning, I am out of the house by 4am, having done a quick polish of the car, even though I did one last night sometimes the odd cat wanders into my garage and what better place to sleep than on the roof of a super luxury sedan like the Mercedes S-Class.

I check that I have enough hand sanitser wipes as well as sanitising gel and wipes for the car interior, plus extra masks in case any Clients forget them.

I wash my hands and put on a new face mask and jump in the car and set off for Heathrow Airport.

My Client is a regular for iChauffeur who commutes weekly from New York to London. 

However with COVID -19 the new headquarters have temporarily been relocated to their main industrial plant in Italy. He is working from the Rome office, and today he is on one of the earliest arrivals into T5. I head to VIP parking (which is a bit more expensive) but it is a shorter walk from arrivals. My Client is always in a rush, and so even 6 minutes saved on walking to the car park, is definitely worth it to try to avoid the rush hour ( I think it should be hours!) getting into the City.

It’s only recently that the coffee shops have been open at Heathrow – back in April and May nothing was open and so it’s great now that slowly things at Heathrow are emerging after the COVID shutdown.

Meet and greet

I grab a cappuccino for me, and a double shot macchiato and fresh orange juice for my Client, and wait for him to come striding through the Arrivals Hall. He knows I am always early, and he knows where to meet me in the terminal – again this spot is calculated to be the shortest walk to the VIP car park.

Client safely on board, I head over to his London pied-a terre, which is located right in the heart of the city, in the Barbican. There he can freshen up and get ready for the day ahead. My Client rushes into his apartment, and I will now wait for about an hour, and then take him to his first meeting. 

There is a lot of waiting around when you are a chauffeur, but I somehow always find things to do – first I check my emails and messages, and see whether I have any new jobs I need to plan for. I have already planned out today’s itinerary (something I do every night as you will see from reading my blog for the week) and I have a couple of new jobs for later in the week which I schedule onto my calendar and let the office know I am available to do the work.

My Client emerges from the complex’s double storey glass and aluminium doors and we are off. Once he is safely in the back of the car I close his door and then head off for his first meeting. 

On arrival at the offices nestled in the heart of the city, I open the door for my Client, and he tells me he will be at least 2 hours before he will need me to take him for his lunch rendezvous in Kensington.

Double Red Lines

For those of you that do not know the city, not only are there double yellow lines almost everywhere, there are also many double red lines. Double red lines are closely monitored by cameras as well as the army of traffic wardens that appear out of nowhere. Under no circumstances are you allowed to ever park on a double red line. This makes parking especially difficult, but luckily most of us chauffeurs, still know of a few hidden parking spaces around the city.

The dilemma is that if a Client’s meeting finishes an hour early, as a chauffeur you need to be in a position that you can easily get to him, which means parking as close to the drop off point as possible.

One handy trick is to find a supermarket car park, where the charges are usually fairly minimal, and park there. Today I head off to a supermarket 3 minutes drive away where I park up, grab some lunch, and also use the time to give the car a quick vacuum inside and polish outside.

After 90 minutes, I head back to the office where I dropped my Client earlier, and park on a metered space and wait for him.

His meeting finishes early, and I spot him walking out of the building holding his phone, which he is using to call me. After the second ring, and before I answer his call, I miraculously glide up to him and he looks astonished, how on earth did I get to him before he had even spoken to me!

Chauffeur driving the Mercedes-Benz S-Class

To Kensington

Heading off to Kensington, I take a somewhat circuitous route, advising my Client that there are protests around Trafalgar Square, and along the Embankment but we still arrive 10 minutes before his lunch meeting.

My Client is Very Clear and almost barks at me: “David, make sure you are back here at 3pm, as I would like to go back to the office then.”

“Absolutely no problem Sir,” I replied. 

Today my Client is visiting a famous hotel for lunch. Fortunately, I know the head concierge and he lets me park outside the hotel in one of their precious parking bays reserved for VIPs. Great – I have some time to catch up on my paperwork and also to talk with the office. This is the last job of the day so I called my wife to let her know I should be home at about 16:00H.

Ready to Open

At 14:30H I get into what I call my RTO (Ready to Open) position – this means as soon as the hotel doors open and I see my Client, I can be outside my car with the passenger door open and ready for him. It doesn’t sound like much, but as part of the service, I know it is really impressive that I am ready with the car door open before my Client has even seen me.

Chauffeur opening passenger door of Mercedes S-Class

The waiting game

So now it’s a waiting game. In situations like this I personally cannot relax and listen to the radio. I am on high alert turning my head every-time the hotel doors open. Soon it is 17:30 H – my Client, is either having a great lunch, or maybe there is something wrong. I think back, did I mishear him? Was it maybe 18:00 H and not 15:00 hours? The last thing I want is to interrupt my Client’s lunch, but also I have a sense of duty to check that he is OK. I send him an SMS advising him that I am still here and checking he has not forgotten.

I get a reply immediately, thanking me and advising he will only be another thirty minutes at the most.

At 19:00H there is a shift change and a new concierge team arrives. I go and have a quick word with them telling them I should be gone within the hour.

Home

The next 3 and a half hours are spent keeping the doorframe of the hotel in sight, and finally at 21:00H my Client emerges. We head back to the Barbican where I take my Client to the front door and see him safely inside and then head home.

Sunset over London

My 16:00 H ETA was a tad optimistic as a glance down at my watch – it’s now 22:30 H.

Day 2

Read Day 2 of a week in the life of a chauffeur.

Chauffeur resources

As travel restrictions ease, now is the time to book the safest private jet chauffeur transfers

As the UK’s lockdown starts to ease, travellers seeking to travel once again for business or pleasure will be looking for ways to do so as seamlessly, efficiently, and hygienically as possible. 

Your Private Jet Chauffeur

Luxury chauffeur-driven ground transportation for air transfers

As traveller concerns about contact with others see private jet use surge in popularity, iChauffeur works closely with a number of the UK’s private airports, including Biggin Hill and Farnborough, ensuring that the ‘bubble’ of service continues for passengers before and after their flight.

Even for those not flying on a private aircraft, iChauffeur offers Signature Elite services at London Gatwick and Luton, allowing clients to experience VIP service, regardless of carrier, with maximum speed, privacy and security at every stage of the flying process, from security screening, to lounge, to arrival and reclaim: all of which reduces hassle and bolsters confidence.

Seamless European jet transfers

Zurich is a popular European airport for private plane and jet charters

Recognised as one of the finest chauffeur companies in the world, with its global network of fully qualified and expert chauffeurs, iChauffeur offers the additional benefit of a fully contactless service. This ensures clients’ peace of mind no matter where they are travelling, with partner chauffeur companies ready to meet and greet iChauffeur clients at airports across Europe including Linate and Ciampino in Italy, Malaga and Gibraltar in Spain, and Le Bourget, Lognes and Cannes Mandlieu in France.

France’s hottest destination

Enjoy the freedom to enjoy a glass of bubbly or two, as you visit the vineyards in luxury with your private chauffeur. The Champagne region is one of our clients favourites.

Seamless chauffeur-driven transfers at any London or Reims airports. Or why not skip the plane, and travel cross-country to and from the UK in one of our private cars? Contact us to learn more.

As Europe begins to re-open its borders, iChauffeur clients, understandably wary after months of travel restrictions, will arrive at their destination in both style and safety: both prerequisites for much-needed holiday relaxation. 

Safer, contactless travel

Space age safety

The spacious Mercedes-Benz V-Class helps you maintain a safe social distance with your Coronavirus trained chauffeur

The Contactless Travel service offered by iChauffeur combines an innovative touch-free protocol with the level of expertise and service that clients have come to see as synonymous with the business. Comprising no fewer than 20 steps, the protocol includes a double clean before and after each journey, employing a disinfection service in the first stage and, in the second, the same UVC light technology currently in use on the frontline in hospitals and other medical settings. Removing the need for hazardous chemicals, the ultraviolet rays in the germicidal light wand kill 99.9% of germs. 

Safe and luxurious private ground transportation

Further precautions in place include a detailed pre-booking safety questionnaire, rigorous adherence to the distancing rule, and provision of gloves, hand sanitiser, tissues and wipes. Certain features within the vehicles themselves, such as advanced air-conditioning and filtration systems, also provide reassurance to clients.

Affordable luxury

Biggin Hill to London From £165 + VAT

The Mercedes-Benz V Class, one of the most popular chauffeur-driven vehicles in the iChauffeur fleet, provides distancing of 2.42 metres between the client and their chauffeur; in the meantime, some aspects of the service have been suspended for the purposes of enhanced hygiene, such as the removal of in-vehicle reading material. In addition, each vehicle is WiFi enabled, ensuring that business can be attended to on the move – or, for leisure travellers, simply to send word of their safe arrival. 

Book your transfer

To book, email info@ichauffeur.co.uk, call +44 (0)208 400 4829 or visit www.ichauffeur.co.uk/book/ Prices are dependent on the individual request, however a typical journey from Biggin Hill to Central London in a Mercedes S or V-Class starts from £165 + vat. For an elevated experience, the Range Rover Autobiography will be from £195 + vat.

What makes a Great Chauffeur?

What is the difference between a good and great chauffeur? We wanted a definitive answer to this elusive question: What makes a great chauffeur? Are the greatest chauffeurs just outstanding butlers on wheels? Or is it something else? Do they have a special sauce in their DNA? Or is it a combination of factors? Drive on with us to help redefine what makes a great chauffeur.

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Gary Mansfield RIP

Gary Mansfield RIP

Gary Mansfield RIP

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Gary Mansfield. We are all shocked by the sudden and unexpected loss of our dear friend. He was truly a great Chauffeur and ambassador for us, we worked with him for many years. We will all miss him deeply.

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