The Latest on Uber and LYFT at LAX

Posted in At the Terminal, Domestic US, LAX

Are you an Uber LAX supporter? Are you tired of paying the taxi company’s outrageous $19 minimum to hail a cab at LAX? Does the phrase “LYFT LAX” sound like sweet, sweet music to your traveling ears? If so, read on for where we stand on the all-important question of Uber and Lyft picking up at LAX and click here for your first ride on Uber for free (up to $20) and click here for $20 towards a Lyft ride!

Today is a big day for the fate of ride-sharing at LAX. An LA City Council Committee (the Transportation, Commerce and Technology committee) is debating whether to allow a previous approval by the LAX Airport Commission to stand, effectively making it legal for the ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft to both pick up and drop off passengers at LAX.

Here’s a brief history lesson: for the past few years, Uber, Lyft, and the other ride-sharing services have been permitted to drop passengers off at LAX but not pick people up. A couple of months back, that all seemed like it was going to change. The LAX Airport Commission voted to allow pick-ups, provided that the drivers pay the same $4 fee that taxis and other commercial drivers pay. Mayor Eric Garcetti paved the way for this decision back in the spring by announcing he was strongly in favor of this. LA City Council members, specifically Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz, decried this development and now the City Council will exercise their right to control the situation.

Will the council approve ride-sharing at LAX? One can only hope. The situation is a little strange right now. I flew in last night and all of the ride-sharing apps had blocked access to pick-ups. You used to be able to arrange for a commercial Uber driver to grab you at the Tom Bradley International Terminal, but even that option has been eliminated. Now you’re stuck with the work arounds.

Ride-Sharing Work Arounds

There are two main ways to still get a ride at LAX from Uber and Lyft.

1. Hop a shuttle

Shuttles are constantly circling LAX to take people to car rental lots, off-site parking lots, and nearby hotels. You can always catch a ride from one of these shuttles, which will take you to a location outside of the restricted airport zone. Yes, you’re using a free service that’s supposed to be available to customers only. If that’s a problem for you, I hope you’re fine paying the $15 minimum fare + $4 airport fee to grab a taxi. I don’t have an ethical issue with this solution. I always tip the drivers and only take a shuttle seat if I’m not taking one from another customer. If the shuttle is full or even close to full, you should probably grab a different shuttle so you’re not depriving a paying customer from a seat. That said, if it’s empty, what’s the major difference in catching a ride via a seat that would go unfilled anyway? The shuttle option is a good one and a victimless crime, in my opinion.

2. Shift your location

The ride-sharing apps allow you to “drop the pin” at a location that you may not necessarily be at. This allows you to call an Uber for a friend and pay for their ride from a different location or it allows you to arrange for a pick-up at a place where you’ll soon be (i.e. you’re at a stadium and walking a few blocks to get a ride). It also allows you to set your airport pick-up point outside of the restricted zone. Then, you can call your Uber driver and ask them to come to the airport to get you. The beauty of an UberX ride is that their cars look like every other car. Who’s to say they’re not your best friend coming to get you? You just need to tell them to remove the Uber/Lyft decal from their windshield and boom — an Uber or Lyft driver can come pick you up at the terminal. One thing to consider is that the driver is then taking a big risk because they could be fined for picking up a passenger at the airport without a commercial license. The risk is all theirs, though, so it’s their decision if they want to come pick you up.

Hopefully the LA City Council will allow ride-share services to pick you up at LAX very soon. I’ll report back when we find out what they say.

Photo via Uber/Facebook


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