Update (1/2020): We just released a brand new report examining the recent ridehail changes at LAX – you can read more about it here.
It’s been a while since Uber has made any updates to its pre-match and re-match program. In this updated article, Paula Gibbins provides new information on how Uber is beta-testing new changes to its pre-match airport program. Below, Paula’s additional reporting and original reporting from Will Preston to explain how airport pre- and re-match typically works.
Uber now has had pre-match and re-match for a while now, and depending on who you ask, this has been better (or worse) for drivers. However, whether you like the features or not, Uber has rolled this feature out in all cities, so many drivers are used to it now.
If you see any new features being tested, please let us know so we can look into it!
If you need a refresher on how airport queues work, please read this airport guide for drivers.
This first feature appears to only be on Uber, and it has no relation to the Lyft feature by the same name. Pre-Match is what Lyft calls stacked rides, where you have another ride assigned to you while you’re already on a ride. This feature is based on the idea that the FIFO zone for many airports is quite large, and it may take you 10 minutes or more to get from the farthest parts of the FIFO zone to a passenger. Pre-match basically tells you that you are about to get a pick up at the airport based on your position in the queue, and you should start making your way towards the pickup area.
You might ask yourself why you can’t do this already without this feature. The reason is that your display only shows that there are 0-10 cars ahead of you in the queue. You don’t know if you are car number 11 or car number two. This feature is basically telling you that you are car number two or three and you should start getting closer to the pickup area.
This feature seems pretty helpful and harmless, but there is one thing you should watch out for. Depending on how airport pickups work in your city, pre-match could create a problem. Consider pickups at San Diego airport terminal one, which happen inside a parking lot that charges you a fee if you are in there for more than 10 minutes. If you were told by pre-match that you are about to get a ride and pulled into the parking lot to wait for it, you could very easily go over 10 minutes waiting to receive the ride request and eventually see the passenger.
Some passengers wait until they are at the pickup area to request a pick up, while others try to time it so that the car is arriving as they are arriving at the pickup area. They know it takes 5 to 10 minutes for a car to show up, so they request a car 5 to 10 minutes ahead of when they believe they will be at the curb. I don’t know how far ahead the pre-match feature would send you to the lot, but if it’s anything more than a minute or so, you could easily go over 10 minutes and end up paying a parking fee. Therefore, I think you should use this feature to get close to the pickup area, but do not pull into the actual pickup area until you verify the customer is there or almost there.
The re-match feature is completely different, and only applies to those who are dropping off a passenger at the airport. You actually skip the FIFO queue and are given the next passenger request if it happens within a short period of time after your drop-off. The Uber FAQ says this should happen within a few minutes.
This potentially makes runs to the airport much more lucrative than they otherwise would be. In many cities, airports are very far from the city center where rideshare drivers like to hover. Without the re-match feature, a ride to the airport might be a very nice fare, but then you have two unpleasant choices: wait in a long FIFO queue or deadhead it back to where you want to be. Now with the re-match feature, a ride to the airport could also mean a ride back to the city center, depending on whether or not there are incoming flights at the exact moment that you are arriving at the airport.
This does mean the FIFO queue will now take much longer in cities that have re-match, making the FIFO queue much less attractive. This is really important in cities where the airport is a long way from the city center, as many drivers deadhead out to the airport and sit in the FIFO queue for a nice long run back to the city. The logic of doing this makes even less sense than it did before, unless you really don’t care how long you sit in the FIFO queue.
Why Are Uber and Lyft Doing This?
There are multiple theories as to why these features are coming out. Some have suggested that this is about rewarding drivers who take those long trips out to the airport. Some drivers don’t want to take that long to drive to the airport because they know they’re going to deadhead back or sit in a long queue. Another theory is that Uber and Lyft don’t want drivers sitting in the queue. They want them out driving and picking up passengers. While I believe that’s true, I don’t think either of these are why this is happening.
I think both pre-match and re-match are designed to lower passenger wait times and take away the one advantage that taxis had at the airport. With taxis at most airports, they are allowed to have a small queue of taxis at the curb that is fed by a much larger queue of taxis waiting somewhere else. That means that you can walk right out and step right into a taxi. But with a rideshare car, you’re going to wait 5 to 10 minutes. With pre-match and re-match, they should be able to lower that time to next to nothing.
How to Tell if Your City Has Re-Match
To see where Uber is doing this, I tried a Google search of “site:uber.com Re-Match” along with a bunch of airport codes, and I was able to determine that the re-match feature is running at SFO, OAK, SJC, MCO, DEN, and TPA. To see if it’s also at your airport, try that search with your city name or airport name. For example, to see if it’s at Daytona Beach airport, enter “site:uber.com Re-Match DAB” or “site:uber.com Re-match Daytona Beach.” If you have Pre-Match and Re-Match, there will be a FAQ page for your city. (Daytona doesn’t have it yet.)
Lyft, on the other hand, has nothing about this feature on their website, but drivers are reporting it is happening in Denver. Please let us know if you have any additional information on this.
A Few Words of Caution
If you have an active destination filter while you are sitting at the curb, you will not get a re-match. This doesn’t mean you can’t use a destination filter to get to the airport, though. You just need to deactivate it as soon as you get there. There are multiple reports from multiple drivers that they get a re-match in this scenario.
Another concern is about the time period after you drop off a passenger but before you get a re-match. If the drop off and pick up areas are the same, it gives drivers the incentive to sit there for a few minutes waiting for a ride. There is talk in some of the forums of drivers being approached by law enforcement or airport management. If you are sitting there with a ride request on your phone and you can show that you are waiting for a passenger in the pickup area – no problem. But if a law enforcement officer looks at your phone and he or she sees that you do not have an active ride request, you can easily end up with an expensive ticket.
So, if you do not get a re-match immediately after dropping off your passenger, you need to be careful. Multiple sources suggest that the re-match period is only two minutes, so definitely do not wait at the curb longer than that. One approach would be to keep an eye out for law enforcement or airport management and drive away if any of them appear to be approaching your vehicle. If you actually end up speaking to one of them, tell them you’re fiddling with your phone. Tell them that you are setting your GPS destination before driving off. Tell them anything other than “I’m waiting for a passenger,” unless your phone shows that you are waiting for a passenger.
Depending on your airport and how aggressive law enforcement is, you might consider looping around, especially if pickup and drop-off are in two different places. A loop in some airports may take a really long time, so that might not be an option for you. In my airport, however, it only takes a few minutes. And since drop-off and pickup are in two separate locations, it makes perfect sense to do a loop to start heading towards the pickup area.
Updates to Re-Match
One of RSG’s readers submitted a concern about re-match. It’s possible Uber is beta testing some changes for it, but here’s what his experience was with the re-match system.
The pin, as he stated, placed him in the middle of the road leading up to the San Francisco International Airport and did not seem to work properly.
He also did not get an actual passenger request despite being told to head in this direction. He ended up wasting his time and, as you can see above, ended up with over 100 other drivers ahead of him as a result.
It’s possible this was just a glitch in the system or that Uber is beta testing how they let re-match function, but either way, his experience was less than satisfactory overall. Hopefully once they work out the kinks, the system will work the way Uber intends.
I personally like these features. They help most drivers and they help passengers. The only drivers that are getting hurt in the process are those that hang out in the FIFO queue. I’ve never liked sitting in that queue for a lot of reasons, so I’m OK with that. But if you’re a queue-sitter, you’re going to hate this when it comes to your city.
Readers, has pre-match and re-match come to your city? If so, what do you think of it? Is this a feature you’re looking forward to?
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-Will Preston @ RSG with additional reporting from Paula Gibbins