LAX Will Allow UberX And Lyft!

It’s no secret around these parts that we here at OMAAT love us some Uber (even if Russell Brand does not share our views).

Yet while Uber is one of the best ways to get a dropoff at an airport, many major airports prohibit UberX and Lyft from picking up passengers there. (UberBLACK, which employs licensed livery drivers, is typically allowed to do pickups.)

At LAX, this has meant in practice that your options arriving at the airport are:

  • Hail a licensed taxi, most of which only take cash. So you’ll likely have to hit up an ATM inside the terminal, wait in line at the taxi stand (and the lines can be gruesome at a peak hour), and expect to shell out $50 and up, including tip, for a ride into most parts of L.A. — and far more if you’re headed somewhere more distant like the Valley.
  • Call up an UberBLACK and wait. From what I understand, UberBLACKs can’t roam around the terminals but instead must park in the short-term parking lots and wait for prospective passengers to call them. You usually don’t have to wait more than 5 minutes or so, and your ride will be swanky, but your ride will also be much more expensive (closer to $60-70). At least it’s a cashless transaction.
  • Hop on a hotel or car rental lot shuttle to get out of the airport proper, and then hail an UberX from outside the airport grounds. You’ll get the benefit of a cheap and reliable UberX to your ultimate destination, but tack on another 15 minutes or so to your journey to wait for a shuttle and be dropped off outside LAX boundaries.

I take Uber nearly everywhere in L.A., but unless I’m traveling for longer than 5 days or so, I find it’s a better value proposition to simply drive myself and park either at an off-airport parking lot or, if I’m only gone for a short hop, park in the short-term parking garage (which is $30/day, but directly adjacent to the terminals and a >5 minute walk from the gate when I land).

Anyway, the Los Angeles Times reports that at the behest of L.A.’s Hipster Mayor, Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners just approved UberX and Lyft to pick up passengers at the airport as soon as late August.

Uber will be available from LAX terminals starting as soon as late August
Uber will be available from LAX terminals starting as soon as late August

Per the Times, LAX will be the largest airport to allow Uber. Nashville International Airport was the first major airport in the country to permit UberX to operate like a taxi with full pickup rights.

Pickups would be subject to a $4 airport origination fee (which taxicabs charge already), so the price of your journey from LAX may cost a bit more than your journey to LAX.

As expected, the taxi cartel is not happy about this, echoing the typical refrains of “Uber must follow the law!” while protesting and chanting outside the Board hearing.

UberX

Notes the Times:

Outside the meeting at the Los Angeles International Airport administration building, about a dozen taxi drivers were wearing yellow shirts emblazoned with a man’s eyes reflected in a rearview mirror, and the slogan, “Uber driver or convicted felon? BOTH.”

I’m rolling my eyes because I’ve personally found Uber drivers in L.A. to be far, far more pleasant, friendly and capable than taxi drivers in the city, by and large, and certainly UberX vehicles are preferable to the city’s fleet of filthy, bare-bones taxicabs. Considering some taxi drivers are criminals themselves, the outrage seems utterly manufactured to me.

The decision is still subject to some perfunctory signoffs, but this is terrific news for consumers and travelers, and a great step toward emphasizing passenger rights over the rights of the taxi industry’s massive lobby.

Comments

  1. What prevents an Uber user from requesting an Uberx, but setting the pin outside the airport and then calling the driver and requesting an airport pickup? Would this not avoid the $4 fee?

  2. @brent: I can’t speculate for sure, but I’d assume that the Uber “U” symbol on the windshield could attract the attention of the many, many airport police officers doing the rounds. It’s probably a risk an Uber driver won’t take.

  3. I have been able to get several UberX before at LAX but it’s a hit or miss situation. The times I have been able to get an UberX the friendly drivers call me to know where I am, request flight info & airline I was flying. Once they pick me up they have their permit on their windshield which avoids them from getting a fine. even during peak hours from LAX to my house with the airport fee of $5 as stated on the receipt I’ve paid $30 which is a bargain. Once this becomes normal practice for us LA based flyers this will be a breeze as it will avoid me jumping on a shuttle to a local hotel and then request an UberX and I can’t deny it, I Stay away from UberBlacks.

  4. @ Ben (I mean Nick 😉 ) — What are some good hotel shuttle options for getting far enough away from LAX to access uberX? I assume the Hyatt Concourse is too close?

  5. I assume UberX won’t be allowed to roam or wait inside the airport much like Uber Black so we’ll still have the problem of waiting for the car. You say 5 minutes but I’ve waited up to 15 minutes for an Uber Black car to pick me up at LAX. Regardless, I guess this is good news for Uber fans.

    I recently came back from Paris where I took UberX everywhere. Boy are the UberX cars sooooo much nicer there than they are in LA. Most of the UberX cars I took in Paris could be Uber Black cars here as they were all very late model large sedans (all black in color fwiw) versus the compact cars you get here in LA. My most recent uberx car in LA was a Hyundai Accent.

  6. @Luis same in Singapore! Uber black was super cheap and all the cars I got were BMW 5 series, Mercedes E-class or higher. Felt super baller compared to the Honda accords I usually ride in here.

  7. The $4 charge is both ways for Ubers and Lyfts, pick up and drop off. Yes it is a complete racket by the airport commission, although I am sure they justify it for safety or something ridiculous.

    SFO has a similar set up where the Ubers have to wait at the cell phone lot which is a very good five minutes away from the terminals. You just have to get in the habit of requesting right when you walk off the plane if you don’t want to wait at the curb.

  8. @brent: I did exactly this yesterday at MSP. As soon as I requested UberX to pick me up in an address just outside the airport I called the driver and said I was at the airport. He told me to wait at the arrivals area and which door. I knew his car and license plate so I kept watching and as soon as I spotted his car I just walked towards it and got it. He had no Uber sticker on his windshield. The ride from the airport to my house cost me $24 when a Uber Black was quoting me $70 and the airport taxi usually cost me $60. According to the driver that also works for Lyft, Lyft is allowed to pick up at the airport but not UberX. He mentioned that he believes that Uber Black drivers are the ones blocking UberX from picking up passengers at MSP.

  9. Lately, I’ve gotten a couple of small cars via Uber. I guess I could cancel if the driver accepting me has a small car, but wouldn’t that impact my rating?

    What do you suggest when having more than carry-on ( but what would fit in a taxi)?

  10. What I did last time at LAX was take the Lot C shuttle to the city bus depot (essentially the first stop on the LAX Lot C route) and call a Lyft pickup from there. Super easy and those lazy LAX drivers don’t give a crap who gets on unlike the airport shuttle drivers.

    Sometimes I almost feel bad for the taxi industry until I take a taxi ride and realize that taxi company owners should burn in hell for eternity for running an industry that is hostile to drivers and passengers alike. What other industry operates where your tab jumps in orders of magnitude right before the end of your transaction? I’ve taken a few taxi’s in several countries and every time the meter makes perfect sense while were are driving until we get to the destination and then it makes many large jumps in price. This is not something that is in anyway transparent and gets me and my passengers in many arguments. The industry can go to hell until it produces very clear pricing schemes, until then I will be using Uber and Lyft.

    I realize Uber and Lyft are becoming more driver-unfriendly with their declining rates and this some definitely a concern but at least their pricing is clear and understandable.

  11. I still think that taking a shuttle to a hotel is the way to go. LAX is such a clusterf*** that two people trying to find each other when neither has any idea what the other looks like sounds like a nightmare. Even if it takes a few minutes longer, getting picked up at a hotel is a much less hectic situation.

    In fact, given the traffic that so often exists just getting into LAX, I’ll bet there are circumstances when doing the hotel shuttle thing is actually faster because your driver will be able to avoid all that (and you’ll save $4).

  12. I live in LA and travel to/from LAX a lot using Uber and licensed cabs.

    Licensed cabs all take credit cards and have for some time.

  13. I’m never going to take UberX again, nor will I give Uber any of my money (because I think the company is run by greedy douchebags), but I’m glad Lyft will be allowed.

  14. My experience has been the same as Darin’s — I have never been in an LA cab that does not take credit cards.

  15. I too have never been in an LA cab that didn’t take credit cards. But I have been heavily discouraged from using them by several drivers. One driver told me that when we use credit cards, the cab company takes 9% of the fare off the top. That’s just what one guy told me, but if it is the case, I get why they don’t want us using them.

    Also, every time I’ve used a credit card in an LA cab, they’ve used those big, clunky things that go SHUNK-SHUNK and take an imprint of the card. Seriously, where else do you ever see those anymore? But it’s a microcosm of the entire situation. They are poorly run businesses that are being beaten by a savvier competitor that has adjusted to the times better.

  16. @ Beachfan — If you cancel within five minutes then there’s no fee and the driver doesn’t rate you/you don’t rate the driver.

  17. This is great news. I spent about 6 months flying into LAX weekly, and getting a taxi when you don’t have an American accent in LA is a nightmare. About 1 in 3 taxis would drive me directly to the hotel, and that was with me giving them explicit directions which 2 out of 3 would ignore. I would land about midnight on Sundays, they would always mutter “traffic” while driving in the wrong direction.

    Every UberX I took to the airport, miraculously would drive directly to the airport.

  18. I use to always drive from Weho to LAX and park….no more. UberX is fantastic, and when it comes to pick upon my return I just use an airport hotel shuttle. The drivers do not care, but please tip them $1-2!.

    A $4 airport charge is not bad considering what the taxi’s charge.

  19. This is great news, but for parents of small children we still can’t use Uber, due to lack of car seats. There’s Uber Family in NYC, which is awesome, because it caters to this particular demographic. When we want to go to the airport from our home in west l.a. and we have a rental car w/car seat at our destination, we usually only have the option of calling a livery service, requesting a car seat and then paying the outrageous $85 to take us to the airport, which is insane because we’re 20 minutes away… Uber, are you listening? Please bring UBER Family to L.A.!!!!

  20. Hi Lucky;

    Thanks! Do you ever cancel based on the type of car they are sending? (You travel light so I’m guessing it’s not an issue for you)

    If you cancel and then re-request, could you get the same driver?

  21. @ beachfan — I have indeed canceled based on the car once in a while. The same driver could indeed be called to pick you up again, though if there are enough drivers in the area it’s unlikely. You could always cancel again then, if you really wanted to.

  22. PDX has had this for a couple of months now (ever since Uber returned to Portland), and even has a dedicated island at the arrivals level for “Transportation Network Companies” (Uber and Lyft). Gotta love my hometown.

  23. I have been very happy with Uber @ ABQ. The drivers I encountered from the taxi companies were hard to deal with, often citing a broken credit card reader, have a car smelling of smoke, or my favorite, failing a DUI checkpoint and leaving me standing there on the side of the road at a police checkpoint while they were arrested.

    With Uber I know bad drivers will get kicked quickly through ratings. They charge $1 pickup/dropoff fee’s at the ABQ airport, and charge less than half of what a decommissioned police car driven by someone I don’t trust does. The best part – I stand just upwind of the smoking section / taxi driver waiting area for my Uber to leave in a nice, smoke free car for an efficient, cheaper ride home.

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