A Guide in Uber Operations at Airports

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Getting to the airport or leaving the airport after just landing has never been easier and efficient, and we have to thank Uber in cooperation with most of the major airports for making airport pick-ups much faster without any hassle to get a ride home, to a conference, or to the event in town.

Pick-Ups to Airport

When riding to the airport to catch a flight, it may be advisable that you check for your preferred vehicle on ETA ( How does ETA work?) from your app 15-30 minutes prior to your pick-up request.

This is important, especially if you are running on a tight schedule and you can't predict if you shall or shan't encounter a heavy traffic, or an unprecedented road construction that may delay you for some minutes and on a worst case scenario make you miss your flight. As much as you can check the ETA to determine your estimated arrival time, such external factors as heavy traffic or road construction are way beyond the control of Uber and the driver.

Dropping off a passenger at the airport can slightly be easier and way more unrestrictive compared to picking up a passenger from the airport. At any departure terminals, drop-offs are constantly taking place with little restrictions but drivers must ensure this happens fast enough with little fuss; parking the car with engine running, popping the trunk and offloading the passenger bags and walking the passengers their way.

Pick-Ups from Airport

Unbeknownst to some rideshare drivers, picking up a passenger from an airport can be prohibited in some airports, while in some others, certain policies regulate the manner in which these pick-ups by rideshare drivers must occur, infringement of which can cause one to be arrested and charged for breaking an authority or law and also the car may end up being impounded and Uber does not cater for these fines like it used to.

Several notable changes in some airports (and more implementing) have made it easier by permitting roll up passenger loading near arrival sections. CVG, CLE, and MEM have already implemented this.


Operations within an Airport Geo-Fence

For vehicles that are not required to carry commercial plates and insurance, like UberX and UberXL, pick up requests shall pop up when they enter a highly defined airport geo-fence surrounding it.

The moment you enter the defined geo-fence radius, a timer shall appear on the partner app and you will be queued in a digital First-in-First-out ( FIFO) queue. Note that the timer can be viewed even when one is not within the airport grounds – this is just to see how long you may have to wait at the airport.

At other times you may find that the timer may not pop up in some smaller cities but we do expect Uber to make that available soon enough in all airports within these cities.

Wait times of between 20-25 minutes at the airport are quite a norm during busiest hours of the early mornings and late afternoons, but the drivers should expect anything between 10-15 minutes as the rush culminates.

In some occasions especially during peak demand (hours from 7AM-10AM and 4PM-7PM), planes will be seen to be landing successively every moment in a span of a few minutes difference and then taking off immediately. You might find it rewarding if you can meet and beat the airport waiting time by actually scheduling ahead of the shortest timetable landings.


What this implies is that more and more people are arriving at short intervals of landing, most of whom are going to be your potential customers; also remember the numbers will be large, the larger the city and the warmer its climate, therefore plan on your availability accordingly.

In some instances, for whatever reasons when you find yourself passing through the airport keep in mind that you can only earn arrival fares from the FIFO queues otherwise the rest of the fares will count as regular fares.

For the drivers of vehicles requiring commercial plates and insurance, such as UberBlack and UberSUV, together with other livery drivers, will be sharing a secluded regulated area from where they can do pick-ups.

The thing about airports is that they are highly regulated areas and as an Uber driver you ought to know and identify your position and time accordingly, otherwise you may end up being kicked out of the FIFO queue automatically. With that under notice, avoid restricted cell-phone or livery (taxicab/limo) waiting lots and all "NO-NO's" assigned spaces, as they are likely a property belonging to the airport.

Where Do I Get to Pick My Passenger?

Upon a pick-up request, being within the airport, it might be slightly confusing (especially if you're a new driver) when it comes to spotting your passenger among the hordes if the operations were traditionally handled; but also some airports do allow Uber drivers to pick up their passengers from the curbside. This although has been streamlined in the sense that a person would input the terminal and door number to be relayed to the driver for easy identification.

In some airports like LAX, drivers have to send a quick reminder text to the passenger asking them to meet at the upper arrival areas. This is important since some would forget especially when hounded by weariness or jetlag.

When you go to some airports, things may be different; they have definitively marked transport network companies (TNC) staging lots for passenger pick-ups. But as you await, you may have to buy a timed ticket for short-term parking lot across from the curbside pickups or by the airtram, which usually has a maximum of 5 minutes free grace period.

What is an Airport Surcharge Fee?

Passengers in airports are always charged an additional fee (despite the booking fee) called "An Airport Surcharge Fee" which is an airport usage fee that goes to the airport.

These fees vary depending on the airport, but an airport like LAX (Los Angeles International) would add to passenger's booking fee an airport surcharge fee of $4.00.

Below is a sample receipt of a LAX passenger displaying the incurred airport surcharge fee.

Things to Know about Cancellations

The are two more important things to observe and beware of:

  • In case your passenger cancels their pick-up request before reaching the TNC staging lot, you will be compensated by being placed at the front of the FIFO queue. Therefore you need not worry about their cancellation.
  • Do not at any time cancel a passenger's pick-up request after fare acceptance for you will be shifted to the bottom of the FIFO queue. Further more, you may end up getting a temporary deactivation of your Uber or even Lyft account.

It is equally important to ensure that you have your airport sticker/permit stuck and visible on the windshield as is required in nearly all airports accommodating TNC services.

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