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Thursday, August 11, 2016

We took BMW’s ReachNow to the airport, and this is what happened


BMW’s ReachNow car-sharing service expanded to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport this week, providing another new option to travelers, in addition to the arrival of ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft at the Seattle airport earlier this year.

As luck would have it, I was headed out of town on Wednesday afternoon, the first official day of service, so I decided to drive ReachNow to the airport. The experience was impressive, a little more expensive than I expected thanks to Seattle’s rush-hour traffic, and slightly frustrating in the end. But overall, I think it’s worth exploring as an alternative to other airport transportation options.

IMG_4867I had my 5-year-old daughter with me for the trip. She and I are both experienced ReachNow users. (The first time we tried one, I convinced her that we were stealing someone’s car, which was probably not the best parenting move.)

For people who have already used the ReachNow service, the beginning of the experience will be very familiar. You simply use the app to locate a ReachNow BMW 3 Series sedan, MINI Cooper, or all-electric BMW i3 anywhere within the ReachNow service area. You reserve the car and unlock it via the app, and go through the normal startup process.

I was happy to find one of the BMW 3 Series sedans on a block near our house. Nothing against the MINI or i3, but it’s a long drive to Sea-Tac, and you might as well do it in style.

Then you drive to the airport. It’s that simple. Well, almost.

You actually need to drive to a Wally Park garage a short distance from the airport, at 18613 International Blvd. Here’s the best part: once the BMW 3 Series was within range of the airport, a dialog popped up on the dashboard screen asking if I was going to the airport, and offering to navigate directly to the designated ReachNow lot. Now that is slick.


I used the in-car navigation and easily found the lot, and as I drove in, the dashboard dialog kicked in again, explaining where to go and what to do. Seriously, what an impressive integration of location-based technology into the customer experience.

IMG_4871We found the ReachNow section on the second level, where there were dozens of cars waiting for people to take them home after arriving at the airport.


In between each car hung a protective fabric barrier, to prevent door dings.


This is where things got a little more complicated. For some reason, after parking and ending the trip, I couldn’t get the vehicle to lock via the window sensor, using either the app or my ReachNow member card. It kept returning to “red” unlocked status, without explanation.

bmwAfter trying unsuccessfully a few times, I called ReachNow customer service, and the helpful representative was able to lock the door remotely. The whole process took about 10 minutes from the moment I parked — adding to my rental time — but when I complained about this, the representative made sure that I wasn’t charged for the extra time.

This is consistent with my overall experience with ReachNow: Seattle is a test bed, and there are naturally occasional glitches or problem, but when something goes wrong, they fix it.

Without that extra 10 minutes, my drive time was 1 hour, 4 minutes — gotta love rush hour traffic! The bill came to $37.88 with taxes and fees, including a $5 airport parking fee. (For a limited time, ReachNow is offering users who drive to the airport a $5 credit for future trips.) The cost would have been considerably less if I had driven at another time of day.

From there, it was easy to find the WallyPark shuttle, and we were at the airport gate within 10 minutes. All in all, it was a good experience, and worth considering for a future trip.


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