Los Angeles International Airport is the biggest U.S. airport to allow UberX transfers. // © 2016 Flickr Creative Commons user kenlund
Feature image (above): UberX is now a transfer option at many major U.S. airports. // © 2016 Uber
With the January announcement that UberX would begin passenger pickups from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), LAX has become the largest U.S. airport to allow for UberX transfers.
"Uber has changed the way Angelenos and visitors to Los Angeles move around our city,” said Bob Blumenfield, council member and the chair of the Los Angeles City Council’s Innovation, Grants, Technology, Commerce and Trade Committee, which oversees the airport. “Over the last year, we have worked to bring Uber to LAX in a way that is regulated, monitored and, above all, safe. As we continue to break records at LAX, I’m proud to finally welcome Uber and its users to Los Angeles International Airport.”
According to Mayor Eric Garcetti, passengers have been asking for better access to reliable, convenient transportation from the airport.
Over the past few years, Uber has continued to expand the number of airports that have designated it as an official transportation option. LAX joins the airports of New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Portland and several others that allow Uber and fellow ride-service provider Lyft to be used for airport transfers.
Other cities, such as Minneapolis, are also considering allowing UberX and Lyft to pick up passengers, while Boston’s Logan International Airport only allows Uber drivers with livery licenses to operate at the airport. San Jose, Calif., also allows UberX and Lyft to pick up passengers; however, due to exorbitant fees and a policy of fingerprinting drivers, there have been no takers.
Despite this recent expansion, however, UberX and Lyft are still not allowed to pick up passengers at most major U.S. airports.
One reason is that most airports own the roads leading out of the airport. So, if Uber or Lyft drivers get into an accident, the airport is legally responsible and will have to pay higher insurance rates to accommodate such vehicles. Another reason is that taxis and other airport-designated transfer options pay fees to the airport that ride-share drivers don’t. Airports also have carefully-structured layouts with specific lanes for taxis, buses and the cars of regular drivers — adding another option can mean restructuring their entire system at a high cost.
Domestic airports aren’t the only ones getting in on the ride-sharing game. Eighteen airports in Asia; 16 airports in Europe; five airports in South America and Central America; and three airports in Canada also allow ride-sharing services such as UberX and Lyft, with many others considering granting permission for the ride-service providers to operate.
Some other airports, both within and outside of the U.S., want UberX and Lyft drivers to attain special licenses and accreditations to pick up passengers, including Australia’s Canberra Airport and San Diego International Airport in California. The companies themselves, however, have often rejected such proposals due to the amount of paperwork that drivers will have to fill out, in addition to added fees and regulations such as no curbside pick-up.
If UberX and Lyft are unavailable at a particular airport, clients can check if any of Uber’s other services such as UberBlack, the company’s “executive” luxury service, are available. UberBlack lets travelers ride in a luxury sedan or SUV. However, keep in mind that this service costs much more than UberX and is subsequently less popular.
With several international airports in negotiations with these transportation network companies, it’s possible that agreements will be made on both sides that will leave the airports, the ride-share services and travelers happy with their transfer options.