Update (1/2020): We just released a brand new report examining the recent ridehail changes at LAX – you can read more about it here.
Harry here. Starting Thursday, Uber will finally be allowed to pick up at LAX! Today, however, RSG contributor Christian Perea tells us what drivers in LA can expect and shares some information for drivers in other cities too. It’s only a matter of time before airport pick-ups are live in every airport across the country, but it’s not as simple as going to the airport and getting a ride. We’ll break down exactly what you need to know and share some strategies for maximizing your income in this post!
If you’re a passenger in need of a ride at LAX, head to the upper departures level and request a ride from your Uber app. You’ll be prompted for the terminal and door number and your driver will meet you there. If you’d like $15 off your first ride, please click here to sign up.
Uber pickups are finally live at LAX, although Lyft beat them to the punch over the holidays, so it seems the battle for LAX is finally over. You don’t have to hug your passengers anymore when you pretend you are picking up your “family” from the terminal!
The Battle of Los Angeles International Airport
For the last few years, LAX has been a battleground. Initially, Uber and Lyft attempted to force their way into airports by offering to pay any tickets while picking up or dropping off at LAX and encouraging drivers and passengers to pose as family members. This resulted in the city dispatching a fleet of tow trucks the following day to collect free money from the Unicorns. Shortly after realizing they would not be able to force their way into LAX, drivers were advised to just drop-off at the airport. Then they were advised to not drop-off at the airport. Then it was okay again. Until it wasn’t.
As things went back and forth, it became clear that LAX was the last stronghold for cabs in Los Angeles and the process to get setup there would be long, drawn-out and ugly. Last summer though, the LA City Council finally approved a process for TNC’s to operate at LAX. At this point it became clear that the airport would eventually open up to rideshare, but it was still months before Lyft and eventually Uber were allowed to pick up.
So, How Does a Driver Get a Ride from LAX?
TNC Staging Area: 9201 Jenny Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Getting a ride from LAX requires that you follow a few rules as a driver:
- You must pass a 10 minute LAX Quiz (email [email protected] for more info on this if you didn’t receive an e-mail about it)
- Once you pass, you will receive an Airport Vehicle Permit Placard for you to display on your car.
- You must have this placard in order to do pick-ups at LAX otherwise you may be fined.
- Pickups operate on a FIFO basis (First in, First out).
- Once you arrive to the TNC waiting area, you will be placed into a queue to receive a request.
- Uber will also give you an estimated time until you get a ride within the app (this is a new feature available in most markets)
- If you cancel a ride, do not accept a request, or logout of driver mode, you will go to the back of the line.
- If the passenger cancels, you go back to the front of the line.
Pro-Tip: If you are logged into both apps while in the waiting area, you get two places in line 😉
New Rules for Pickups AND Drop-offs.
- You must pickup or drop-off from one of the round “Rideshare Services” Signs. They are lettered A-F as you circle the terminal upper level.
- All pickups must be on the departure level of the airport. This may mean calling your passenger and advising them to walk to the upper level. In other airports, the app will notify the passenger to walk to the upper level of departure. If your passenger is disabled and unable to get to the upper level you may pick them up on the lower level.
- Your permit must be displayed anytime you are on LAX property. This applies to drop-offs as much as pickups. If you are caught, you will receive a nastygram from Uber notifying you that they are deducting the ticket from your pay.
Should I Drive to LAX Right Now and Get a Ride?
SFO has had a TNC lot for some time with a similar FIFO system as LAX. Usually the lot is crowded with about fifty or so drivers waiting for a ride. Many find that it is a good place to take a break after dropping off at the airport. Generally you aren’t going to get rich by doing airport rides, but you will get to take a break. As you can see above, the lot is full of drivers almost all the time. I suspect LAX will be a very similar scenario, especially since volume and demand in LA are a bit lower than in the Bay Area/San Francisco.
That being said, if you want a low stress way to wait for long rides, than waiting it out at the airport may be a sound idea. It’s also a great place to log hours when Uber has promotions that depend on logging hours.
Let Uber And Other Drivers Work Out The Kinks First
One thing we saw when Lyft first launched at LAX was that there were a lot of kinks to be worked out. On launch day, the system didn’t work very well and drivers weren’t even able to do pick-ups for the first few hours. With that in mind, it’s probably a good idea to let other drivers work out the kinks for the first few days, and then you can swoop in to do some airport rides once all the bugs are worked out.
Obviously, Uber will also send a big sweeping e-mail to all 40,000 LA drivers about LAX pick-ups so you can imagine how many drivers will flock to LAX during the first couple days. Kind of like how everyone goes to the gym in January but then it starts to tail off in February and go back to normal. Let all the other drivers wait in long lines for the first few days and then you can start taking advantage of the airport rides once they get disillusioned.
Update (1/20/16): Here’s the e-mail that drivers will get with the link to take the online quiz. You will also need a physical LAX permit placard in order to do pick-ups.
Here’s a video Uber released about pickups at LAX too:
Drivers, what do you think about Uber’s launch into LAX? Will this help you make more money as a driver or do you think it’s not that big of a deal?
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-Christian @ RSG