Deciding which Uber to request is easy with one or two people, but when you’re trying to use Uber to get around town with a larger group of people, it’s not always obvious which service you should use. How many people can Uber cars fit, and how much more will you pay for a larger car? And how much luggage can a car fit if you’re traveling to the airport?
Airport rules as of now: You can take an Uber TO nearly every airport in the US, but only some airports allow you to request X and XL rides FROM the airport. Check out your city’s page on Uber.com for more info.
Below is a detailed guide about using Uber for groups, airports, and splitting fares that will address two main points:
- Which Uber service you should use with a big group, or to go to the airport with luggage
- How much the ride will cost
UberX – For groups up to 4 (2-3 with luggage)
UberX is the low-cost Uber service for up to 4 riders. A group of 3 will be comfortable in almost any Uber X car. UberX drivers favor small, economical cars that technically can fit 4, but it’s a tight squeeze. Groups of 4 will feel cramped in the smaller UberX cars — think Ford Focus, Mazda3, Honda Civic, etc.
Not all UberX cars are alike. Your UberX car may be a big, roomy Toyota Camry with lots of room for luggage, or a cramped Toyota Prius C hatchback with little room for luggage and barely enough room for 4 grown adults.
Cost: UberX is the cheapest Uber service, typically costing around $1/mile and $0.20/minute.
UberXL – For groups of 5–7 riders (2-4 with luggage)
UberXL is the correct service to use if you have more than 4 people in your group, but no more than 6 or 7. However, if you’re a group of 6 full-size adults, you might want another person in your group to request a second ride so everyone can be comfortable.
Some XL vehicles have very small third-row seating (Honda Pilot), and some are larger SUVs with plenty of room for groups and luggage. You never know what you’re going to get, so if you’re pushing the upper capacity limit, it’s smart to order 2 rides.
Cost: UberXL is nearly twice as expensive as UberX, around $2/mile and $0.35/minute.
Uber SUV – For larger groups willing to pay for a more luxurious vehicle
The Uber SUV service is made up of larger, luxury SUVs driven by commercially registered drivers. Like an XL, Uber SUV vehicles can hold 5–7 passengers.
Cost: It’s the most expensive option — Minimum fares are around ~$25 and you’ll pay around $4/mile. Remember, UberX typically only costs $1/mile.
Airports and travelers: Getting the right Uber when you have luggage
Many Uber users who own their own cars and avoid the late-night bar scene will only ever use Uber to get to the airport and back.
Luggage is the big complication with airport Uber rides that causes a lot of confusion — which car will be big enough to fit your stuff? The conventional wisdom to take an UberX for groups of 4 or less and an XL for groups of 5–7 doesn’t always apply to airport trips because luggage can take up a lot of room, especially if you’re a heavy packer.
Smaller UberX cars can’t hold much luggage, so even if you only have 2 or 3 people, you may need to request the larger XL service.
Which Uber service to use when you’re carrying luggage
- 1 person with luggage: UberX
- 2 people with luggage: UberX
- 2 people with tons of luggage: UberXL
- 3 people with luggage: UberXL
- 4 to 6 people with luggage: 2 Uber Xs or 2 XLs
You can’t schedule your Uber, so check the app for driver availability 30 minutes before you need to leave
Currently you’re not able to schedule your Uber to the airport in advance, so you need to take some precautions to make sure that you’ll get your ride on time.
- The day before your trip: Open up the Uber app at the time of day you think you’ll need to leave. See if there are Uber drivers available nearby, and use that information to plan for the next day.
- The day of your trip: Open the Uber app 20 to 30 minutes before you need to leave. See if there are drivers available nearby. If there are, you can wait to request your ride until 5-10 minutes before you need to leave. If there aren’t many cars available, request the ride around 20 minutes before you need to leave for the airport.
What to do when you request the wrong Uber service
Mistakes happen. Sometimes you order an Uber and when it arrives, you realize it’s not large enough for your group or doesn’t have room for all of your luggage. What should you do?
If your Uber doesn’t have enough room for you, your group, or your stuff, you can:
- Have a second person in your group download the app and request a second UberX or XL
- Cancel the ride and request an XL
There is a cancellation fee: If you cancel 5 or more minutes after you requested the ride, you’ll be charged $5 ($10 for SUV). But if you re-request other Ubers and end up taking rides, I think you have a good case to email Uber and ask them to refund the cancellation fee. More about Uber’s cancellation fee.
Never pressure the driver to carry more people than they can fit. It’s unsafe, illegal, and it puts the driver in the uncomfortable situation of having to put their foot down and refuse to take extra passengers. It’s a confrontation that every driver dreads, yet has to face far too often.
A weird X/XL complication that happens sometimes: UberXL drivers can receive UberX requests, so it’s possible to request an UberX and have an XL car arrive instead. Let’s say you mistakenly request an X with five people in your group and a driver in an XL vehicle arrives. Your group can fit into that car, but you requested the cheaper UberX ride even though you should have requested an XL. In order to be fair to the driver and make sure he gets paid for giving an XL ride, you should cancel and re-request the ride as an UberXL. You’re likely splitting the fare several ways anyway, so an XL won’t cost you much more and the driver will be compensated fairly for taking your larger group.
How much will your ride cost?
The Uber app and website each have a fare estimator that you can use to get a very accurate estimate of the cost of your trip. The estimate may not factor in surge pricing, so make sure to watch out for that when you request your trip. If surge pricing is in effect when you request your ride (you’ll be notified), try using Lyft instead, or waiting out the surge.
You can split Uber fares inside the app
When you’re riding with a group, only one person requests the ride, but an Uber app feature allows you to split the fare. After your ride starts, find the “Split Fare” button and select the other passengers you want to split the ride with you. Each person will be charged equally, with a $0.25 transaction fee added on top.