An argument that has polarized drivers for years is whether or not the airport waiting lot is worth waiting in. Many argue that you’ll keep busy outside the airport lot instead of sitting around waiting for a request. Others think an airport run is easy pickings for longer rides. So, what is better? Join RSG contributor Tyler Philbrook as he dives into this question.
As I pull up my Uber driver app, it tells me that there are currently between 60 and 70 drivers waiting in the airport waiting lot and that the Comfort drivers are completely maxed out.
Sometimes the driver number is low, less than 10, other times, it’s over 100. Is it ever worth it to sit and wait for a request, or should you spend your time doing something else?
I’ve been to the waiting lot in Tampa, Florida many times. It is a really nice lot, but is it worthwhile to use?
We’ve been covering this question for a while, since it is popular! Take a look at one of our first video’s discussing pros and cons of waiting in airport queues: Are Airport Queues Worth the Wait?
- Not all waiting lots are made equal! If yours has amenities and clean bathrooms, it might be worth it to wait just for that
- You might be able to avoid the waiting lot if you drop off at the airport
- How to know if you should wait? Know your city and know busy times of the year for your local airport(s)
Should You Wait for Airport Rides? 4 Things to Consider
How Nice is Your Airport Waiting Area?
The first time I went to the Tampa Airport waiting lot, I was pleasantly surprised. Number one, it’s more than just parking your car and roasting alive inside it. There is a nice air-conditioned building with picnic tables you can use.
There are electrical outlets to plug in phones, laptops, anything.
Best yet, the bathrooms have always been clean. Every single time.
They have vending machines and a prayer room, and there are usually enough people around that you can strike up a conversation with someone and not be bored while you wait.
I have used the time to work on other projects, write articles, send emails, submit job applications, and do whatever else I needed to do while waiting.
The downside is if you’re waiting, you are not getting rides, meaning you’re not making money.
So, though the waiting lot may be comfortable, it isn’t always worthwhile to wait and lose out on money.
Driving Around Instead
If you’re close enough to the airport that you can get to the waiting lot, and there aren’t many drivers there, then it could be worth it.
If it’s a long way off, driving elsewhere is better.
Driving around can feel like a bad option because you’re now using gas and not making money until you get a request. The key is not to drive aimlessly. If the location you’re in isn’t getting rides, then driving somewhere else is strategic. Driving to place yourself in a better area is worth it to increase your chances of getting a fare.
How do you know if waiting or driving around for airport rides is worth it? We chatted with other rideshare drivers on their strategies for making money at airports here: How to Make Money Driving Uber at Airports, Sporting Events & Concerts!
I try to have a few parking locations in mind to turn to if I end up in a slow part of town. They are places I know are more likely to get me rides or delivery requests sooner rather than later. If I’m in a spot where I’m not getting any pings, I’m absolutely going to drive to get to a location I’m more likely to get a ride from.
Drive People to the Airport Instead
If you have an airport in your area, driving people to the airport is probably the best way to make good money.
The added benefit to this is that it will help you bypass the airport waiting lot. When you drop someone off at the airport, Uber will then try to connect you to another passenger that needs to be picked up. This means that you have less wait time between passengers, usually getting a pick-up request before you have finished dropping off.
How does skipping the queue even work? We break it down here: Uber Drivers Can Now SKIP The Airport Queue?!
Also, picking people up from the airport oftentimes ends up giving you longer rides, which tends to mean more money.
But how can you make sure that you get airport rides?
This may be specific to Florida, but how I have always done it is I go to where vacationers tend to be and wait for a ride request. For me, that means the beaches.
There is a long line of hotels on the beach and a lot of parking near them. When I start my day, I make my way to the beach and park close enough to the hotels that I get the ride when someone is going home.
The beach is also about 10 miles from the airport so it’s going to be a decent payout by itself, but it also typically gets me a ride from the airport back to the beach. Sometimes I’ve even dropped someone off at the exact same hotel I just picked up at my last fare.
Maybe your area doesn’t have beaches, but I’m certain you have hotels, you have business parks or some sort of tourist area. Whatever that place is in your area, park there and you’ll get a ride to the nearest airport.
Avoid the Airport Altogether
You can make a lot of money driving to and from an airport, and avoid the “party crowd”, but it is by far not the only way to make money while rideshare driving.
If it isn’t your cup of tea, that’s fine. Getting up super early and driving people isn’t for everyone.
Driving nights and weekends in order to transport the party crowd is a great way to make money, as is driving people to and from work. If your airport isn’t that lucrative or busy, it definitely makes sense to avoid it altogether!
What Are Other Drivers Saying?
One driver on Facebook said, “I do the airport when I want an easy, no stress day. I would do it more if it was easier to get rides back to the airport.”
Another said, “I don’t like going to ORD (O’Hare International Airport – Chicago), I live on the Southside so if I drive someone there it’s at least 45 minutes to and 90 minutes back home. It pays $40 though. Bumper to bumper both ways.”
And one gave this tip: “What’s great about my market is that airport drop offs get priority, so you rarely have to go to the waiting lot.”
Takeaways for Drivers
Depending on your market, and how you drive, some drivers really like the airport rides, and even think of it as an easy, no-stress day. Others find it so stressful that it isn’t worth it.
The ultimate goal of every rideshare driver is to make money, so whatever works best for you and what you’re comfortable with that will make you money is what you should do.
If you haven’t tried waiting at your airport lot yet, give it a shot and see what you think. You don’t really know if it’ll be worthwhile for you until you try it out.
What has your airport waiting lot experience been? Share in the comments!
-Tyler @ RSG