Airports have been the thorn in the side of Uber ever since it began the UberX service. Uber was able to spread UberX to just about every major city with very few limitations, but strict guidelines and longstanding agreements at airports have barred Uber drivers from one of the most important and lucrative places to give rides.
Recently Uber landed a huge win: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) will now allow Uber drivers to pick up passengers from LAX. Uber drivers who want to receive pickups at the airport have to follow special rules and instructions, so I’ve outlined some of the LAX guidelines to give you a sense for the kind of rules you may have to follow at your own local airport if it starts allowing Uber pickups.
For LA drivers, I highly recommend that you read Uber’s tip page for drivers and scroll to find airport-specific info. That’s where you’ll find the most up-to-the minute rules and regulations. I do my best to keep this page up to date, but Uber’s page is the ultimate authority.
Here’s a link to the LAX quiz and the LAX airport guidelines for drivers. NOTE: The quit link may not work for you. If it doesn’t, email Uber and ask them to send you everything you need to get started giving rides at the airport.
Uber drivers in Los Angeles have to pass a test to pick up at airports
Pickups at Los Angeles airport won’t be like any ordinary pickup, and it’s likely that most other airports that allow Uber pickups will follow similar rules. Strict rules will regulate the way passenger requests are circulated among drivers, and airports will require drivers to wait in designated areas. They system is very similar to the one that governs licensed cabs at airports.
- Uber drivers have to wait in a designated lot
- Requests are given to drivers on a first-come, first-served basis
- If you miss a request or cancel a request, you move to the back of the line
- You have to display a special LAX placard on your windshield
- The Uber app will give you an estimated wait time until your passenger request
- Uber charges a $4 fee for pickups, charged directly to the passenger and handled by Uber
Uber drivers have to display a special LAX permit to pick up AND drop off riders at LAX
After you pass your LAX quiz, Uber will send you a special LAX permit that you’ll have to display on your windshield when you drop off or pick up passengers. Important: Only display trade dress from one company when you’re picking up or dropping off at LAX. It’s against airport policy to display both Lyft and Uber trade dress at the same time while you’re on airport property.
The airport test for Uber drivers asks these questions
Uber drivers in Los Angeles received an email in January connecting them to a 6-mintute airport training video and a brief quiz covering the material. The style of the videos is a lot like other training videos Uber has released — straightforward, covering basic information. Drivers who aren’t very familiar with the airport will have to watch closely for the location of the pickup zone and the waiting lot, but once you do one ride, you’ll know exactly what to do.
Note: I can’t give you answers or help you pass the test! If you watch the video and pay attention you’re guaranteed to pass.
- Where do you place the LAX permit on your vehicle?
- What level of the airport are you permitted to pick up riders on?
- Can a TNC driver circle in the terminal area?
- In which area can you wait for pickup requests?
- When picking up, what rules and laws must you obey?
From those questions, you can see the rules that Uber wants drivers to focus on the most: Display the proper permits, pick up passengers from the correct level, don’t circle the terminal area, wait in the proper waiting area, and follow all rules and laws.
Giving rides to passengers with disabilities
The airport test contains a special section that focuses on driving people with disabilities. It’s part sensitivity training and part practical training. The biggest take-home point from the video is that you should always ask a disabled person how they would like to be treated instead of assuming they want something done a certain way.
Is it worth it to drive for Uber at airports?
Most drivers are accustomed to getting requests at random, as they come in. With airport pickups, there’s a clearly defined waiting area, a line, and a big potential wait time. You may have to wait up to an hour to take your turn at an airport. Is that worth it to you? It’s worth trying a few times, but if you get one too many passengers only going a few miles from the airport, you might find that the long wait for a <$10 fare isn’t worth it. Airports pickups are a big win for Uber and hopefully they can be a big win for drivers too.