Modrý anděl (Blue Angel) were way ahead of Uber when they introduced their GPS-enabled Apple/Android booking app. They had mostly comfortable cars, mostly good drivers and fair prices. So, what went wrong?
Long-term residents of Prague will remember how easy it was to order a Modrý anděl. These days, the app struggles to find an available car. Did drivers who left during Covid never return or did they migrate to Uber?
It is possible to pre-book and that always used to be a good option when landing at Prague Airport – the app asks for your flight number and if you have checked baggage. Prague Airport has a system that allows anyone to track a flight and receive text messages; landed, baggage in hall etc.
I booked Modrý anděl to pick me up from a flight landing at 11pm. Of course, the flight was late by one hour. Taxis don’t sit and wait. What should happen is that knowing the actual arrival time, the despatcher sends the taxi. This is how things looked for me.
Driver already eight minutes late and enjoying the sights in Roztoky.
I called the driver and managed to say “Kolik minut na letiště?”. His answer “Padesát!”. I thought I’d misheard as Roztoky is maybe 20 minutes away, but he re-confirmed the estimate – he also suggested I take a bus! Luckily, an airport taxi arrived and I got home for 800 Kč.
I complained to Modrý anděl and had this reply from Thomas:
Let me offer an explanation to your complaint. Due to your delayed flight and high demand, we were quite unable to hold the driver for extra hour at the airport waiting.
Dispatcher on duty sent the closest car available at the moment.
We are sorry for any inconvenience caused.
That’s not an acceptable answer. They had one job – to pick me up from the airport when I arrived. Has anyone else had a similar issue?
A History of Modrý anděl
Modrý anděl started out as a ‘we’ll drive you and your car home’ service. That was pretty popular, especially in a country where the alcohol limit for driving is zero. They then expanded into a regular taxi service. I’m not sure when the Apple/Android booking app with GPS locator appeared, but it was certainly before I’d seen anything similar, including the Uber app. At the time it was revolutionary, especially for expats who often didn’t know where they were or couldn’t pronounce the name of the street.
A loyalty scheme offers a further discount on your fare once you achieve Silver or Gold status – I’m not sure that this is very popular with the drivers and I have a sneaking suspicion that some deliberately don’t accept the job when they see a Gold status discounted ride.
Many will remember their advertising poster, seen in many a Prague restaurant bathroom.
The poster features four passenger stereotypes; the Japanese engineer who likes that he can be found via GPS, the Czech tractor driver who drinks too much and needs someone to drive him and his car/tractor home, the young Czech Marketing Director who wants a bit of luxury and the stewardess who needs a taxi from the airport.
Let’s take a look at the names given to each ‘typical’ user of the service. The tractor driver, Josef Skočdopole – his name translates as ‘Josef jumps in the field’.
The Stewardess, Michaela Nebeská translates to ‘Michaela Sky’.
The Marketing Director, Viktor Úspěšný translates to ‘Viktor Successful’.
The Japanese engineer, Tady Nakaši translates to something like ‘here the thing is smashed so much it’s like mashed potato’. Not sure I get this one unless it is a comment on Japanese engineering skills.
I preferred the old logo. The new one looks like this:
I wish they’d spent the re-branding money on more cars.