Air travel is one of the marvels of the modern world — but it’s not exactly a smooth process.
Fliers have to trek to the airport with heavy bags, wait in indeterminate queues, face frequent checks, and endure the rigmarole of repetitive in-flight safety messages.
One London startup wants to make the whole affair a little easier — by removing the need to have to worry about transporting luggage to the airport.
Founded in 2012 by former finance worker Randal Darby, Portr currently offers its AirPortr service at two London airports, City and Gatwick. Here’s how it works:
- The user books the service online or on mobile via a web app (native Android/iOS apps are under development)
- A driver turns up to pick up your bag at a time convenient for you
- You make your own way to the airport, where your bag is ready and waiting for you
- On the home stretch, you drop off the luggage at the airport stall after landing, and it is delivered to a destination of your choosing
Of course, Portr can’t take your luggage through customs for you, due to security concerns, so you do have to deal with your bags briefly. But on select flights coming in to London City Airport, staff will pick up your bag directly from the carousel for you and deliver it so there’s no waiting around once you land.
It’s aimed largely at business users, and means that someone doesn’t have to cart their bag around the office all day before heading to their flight. Or so they don’t have to worry about their suitcase if they land back in London in the morning and have meetings that day.
I tried it for myself last week when I flew out from London Gatwick for a week in sunny Bulgaria. It all went very smoothly: A friendly driver picked up my bag the night before (because I was flying early in the morning), and staff were on-hand on the day of the flight to give me my bag and answer any questions.
The company recently raised £3.3 million funding led by Hargreave Hale, and plans to expand to Heathrow later in 2015. Although Airportr is currently the only service the company currently offers, its name — Portr — hints at a future expansion into the broader on-demand delivery service. “We do have plans to expand beyond airports,” company spokesperson Marie-Claire Lalor told me, “and we will announce this in due course” — but stressed that air travel remains the company’s primary focus for now.