Blacklane Is My New Favorite Way to Get Around New York City
An Audi, fresh bottles of Fiji water, and my playlist on the speakers? A 45-minute drive in NYC has never been so luxe.
For chauffeurs at Blacklane, being on time is considered late. Punctuality is just one of the many tenets chauffeurs are taught at Blacklane’s two-day Chauffeur Academy, a voluntary training program for all drivers employed by the global luxury car service. I got to see this superior etiquette in action on a round trip to and from New York City’s Carlyle Hotel on Wednesday night, where Blacklane gave NYLON a sneak peek into just what goes on in Chauffeur Academy.
Approximately 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave for the Carlyle, I received a text that my chauffeur Ibragim had arrived. I’m so used to the utter panic that my Uber driver is going to leave me in the dust in the 30 seconds it takes to walk downstairs that I forgot there was no need to rush at all: Blacklane drivers are told to arrive at least 10 minutes before your scheduled departure (and even longer for airport rides). If you’re not there on time, they wait at least 30 minutes before leaving.
It’s all part of the elevated experience that Blacklane offers. The company has mastered the convenience of being able to book by the hour, day, or destination on a short notice, without sacrificing any customer service. When you ride with Blacklane, you feel important — which is what I felt when I arrived downstairs to see my chauffeur waiting for me, standing alert on the trash-lined streets of Bushwick in a three-piece black suit. (Blacklane drivers, I’d soon learn, are required to wear a tailored two or three-piece suit in black, navy, or dark gray with an elegant white shirt.)
My driver greeted me by name, asked me how I was, and gently opened and closed the door for me. Once inside, he inquired about the temperature, which was set to a cozy 68 degrees. Normally, I'm debating whether or not to ask for the phone charger based on how annoyed I think an Uber driver will be. But Ibragim not only offered me a phone charger immediately, but also said I could connect my Spotify. With a squirt of hand sanitizer, a Fiji water in my hand, and Lana Del Rey on the speakers of an Audi A8, I was in the lap of luxury. We drove uptown, which took a significantly longer time than usual because President Biden was visiting the Upper East Side, but Ibragim navigated road closures and police caravans seamlessly, somehow whipping through the back roads to still get me to my destination ahead of schedule. I was so relaxed I fell asleep.
Once at the Carlyle, Blacklane gave a presentation on what exactly goes on at the Chauffeur Academy, which made me immediately understand why the ride made me feel like I was in a different tax bracket. Every detail of the interaction is taught and practiced — from the greeting, to which hand chauffeurs use to open the door, to seating arrangements. For example, if it’s a business ride, the person of the higher rank gets seated first. Chauffeurs are trained on defensive driving techniques and graceful gestures; they need to be able to seamlessly operate a vehicle while guests are toasting Champagne in the backseat. Blacklane drivers also learn advanced safety techniques, such as the Dutch Twist, in which a driver twists their body, using their left hand to open the door to better look out for incoming bikers.
I met two of Blacklane’s best chauffeurs, who had worked for a company for a combined 13 years and more than 10,000 rides. They told us some stories about going above and beyond for guests, including one woman who was running late to the airport yet requested the driver stay only in the slower right lane. No request is too ridiculous for Blacklane.
On my ride home, trusty Ibragim was once again waiting outside for me. I had a greater appreciation for the way he gently opened and closed the door for me. I noted the genuine compliment on my playlist he offered. There was less traffic on the way home — but I wished there wasn’t. I could have stayed in that car all night.
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