Airport transfers in Odessa and Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine
Prior to our trip to the Ukraine, I was looking for information on airport formalities in Odessa and especially airport transfers. I had read that customs and immigration processes at Odessa airport can be slow and one got the impression that some officials are still wrapped in the cobwebs of Communism. Some people have recommended that pre-arranging your airport transfers is advisable so as to avoid taxi touts at the airport. I made enquiries with a few internet companies that were offering airport transfers. Their websites looked professional and they made all the right noises, but when I submitted my requirements, none of them responded, in spite of followups. I sensed that internet fraud was a big issue and that the companies prefer that you phone to confirm that yours is a genuine enquiry.
Finding current information on airport transfers in Odessa was a challenge. Many sites were promoting dating Ukrainian women or apartment bookings, for which they will throw in the airport transfer for free. I had just about given up when we had an email from one of the companies, the day before we were due to leave for the U.K.! Ours was not a straightforward requirement as we needed to be picked up from Odessa airport and delivered to our riverboat and then we were leaving from Kyiv (Kiev). Not knowing where these places were and not speaking the language made it tricky as we weren’t going to a hotel.
Our motivation for arranging our own transfers was because the river cruise company wanted outrageous prices to provide the transfers. So what was our experience? We used a company called UkraineFare.com who charged USD15 to transfer us from Odessa airport to the seaport terminal and USD40 from Kyiv sea terminal to Kiev airport. Their drivers in Odessa and Kyiv were there right on time at both destinations with our name placard and the transfers went really smoothly. The drivers did not speak English, but they knew where we needed to picked up and transferred to. Their cars were comfortable, but not airconditioned, but for a saving of a few hundred dollars, we were not complaining. We also felt secure to book with UkraineFare.com as they used PayPal for their payment system.
If we were going the Ukraine again, we would be happy to pre-book our own airport transfers again. Immigration and customs procedures at Odessa and Kiev were slow due to their manual processes, however we did not have any problems at all. Contrary to advice, we didn’t have to declare how much money we were bringing in or out of the country.