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.
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.
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.