How To Use Uber For Airport Pickup
If you aren’t yet signed up for either Lyft or Uber, feel free to use my link below and get your first ride free! If you are already signed up, feel free to post your referral link in the comments.
Edit: One thing I forgot to add is that Uber is available in 45 different COUNTRIES (full list here). So even if Uber isn’t currently available in your city, if you are traveler, I’d recommend signing up because Uber operates in almost every major city around the world and can save you from being taken advantage of by local taxis cartels.
Like many of you, I am an avid user of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft!
It is really hard to imagine how we lived in a time where you had to manually flag a cab down or had to deal with cabbies credit card readers always being conveniently “broken”.
Outside of Uber and Lyft being so damn cheap, I also love the fact that the whole system is cashless. I can get out of the car without ever having to take out my wallet or swipe a card. Everything is done in the app!
While most cities have now accepted that ridesharing is here to stay and allow Lyft & Uber to operate without issue, the one place where taxis have really dug in against ridesharing is airport pickups. Not really surprising since the average airport fare is substantially higher ($50+) than a normal city pickup and cabs actually have to pay the airport for the right to pick up passengers there (while ridesharing doesn’t).
While Uber and Lyft are free to drop passengers off at the airport, in many cities they “aren’t allowed” to pick up people from the airport (although it does depend on the city you live in, as some cities do allow it now).
Can I Use Uber At The Airport?
The other week, we flew back from Seattle and our flight was delayed due to thunderstorms. We arrived at O’Hare at 1AM.
Normally, we’d just take public transit but it was really late and pouring so we were just gonna take a cab until I remembered Lyft and Uber were potentially an option.
I say potentially because while both services aren’t supposed to pick up people from the airport, from previous experiences I knew that when Uber and Lyft drivers drop off passengers at the airport, they sometimes hang out in the parking lot with the hope that they can pick up a passenger to drive back into the city.
So I decided to give it a shot and fired up Lyft (my preferred ridesharing service) to try and find a ride to Hyde Park (Southside of Chicago).
Unfortunately Lyft’s driver base is substantially smaller than Uber’s and at 1AM, there were no Lyft drivers near O’Hare!
I next fired up Uber and there were a couple drivers in the area but because Uber knew via GPS that I was at ORD, it wouldn’t allow me to request an UberX ride!
I could only request a Taxi, Black Car, or SUV…
A cab to Hyde Park would have been upwards of $50+ and public transit would have taken 2+ hours and probably not the safest idea at 1AM…
Since Uber allows you to drag the pin that determines your pickup location, I simply tried dragging the pin to the highway outside of ORD and dropped it to see if it would then allow me to request an UberX ride.
To my surprise, it worked!
Within seconds, an UberX driver responded and once he was in route, I simply called him and told him we were actually at ORD and to pick us up there.
While this “trick” doesn’t sound like much, just think about how many people land at ORD everyday, open Uber looking for a cheaper ride into the city, and then close it because Uber doesn’t allow UberX pickups at ORD…
This same “trick” I have used at IAD last December when we needed a ride between Dulles and DCA , so I suspect it works at most airports where “pickups” aren’t allowed.
The Enormous Price Difference By Using UberX
While I was happy to not have to take a cab from ORD, I had no idea how much cheaper UberX was compared to a taxi.
The drive between ORD and Hyde Park is around 25 miles and takes a good 30- 60+ minutes depending on traffic..
Had we taken a cab from ORD, it would have cost approximately $52 before a tip, so more realistically $60 including tip.
With UberX, thanks to their insane price war with Lyft where they just constantly undermine each other, the total price of the ride was only $34.80 (although I did have some Uber credit so I was only charged $9.23).
So without factoring in a tip that a taxi would require, UberX was 31% cheaper…
If you include the tip on the taxi ($60 total), UberX was 40% cheaper…
While this was my first time using Uber or Lyft to get picked up at ORD, for the past year, I have been using both services constantly around the country (SFO, SEA, ORD, DEN, IAD) to go to the airport when public transit wasn’t a feasible option.
In my opinion, Uber and Lyft really fill a vital need in the airport transportation space. Before ridesharing came around, there were really only 2 options if you needed to leave the airport and didn’t have a ride; an expensive but convenient taxi or slow but cheap public transit.
Uber and Lyft really fill this middle space of providing an affordable but convenient transportation option. Hard to beat paying $34.80 for direct door to door airport transportation…
While it was previously annoying to not be able to use Uber or Lyft from the airport in some cities, with this little pin-dropping trick, I now know that in the event public transit isn’t an easy option, I have another option instead of being forced into an over-priced taxi!
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