After months of political maneuvering, Uber and Lyft have prevailed in their bid to pick up passengers at Los Angeles International Airport, with service set to begin in the next few weeks. Here’s five tips for using Uber like a pro at LAX.
1. Pick up Uber-X on Departures Level at LAX
Uber fought hard for the right to pick up passengers on the lower arrivals level, where taxis pick up passengers, but lost that battle. Consider this a blessing in disguise, for the arrivals area is often incredibly congested, particularly in the evening hours. Frequent escalators allow easy egress upstairs and if SFO (where Uber must also pick up on departures level) is any indication, this restriction will work out just fine and is actually a good thing.
2. 40 Ubers At A Time May Wait at LAX to Pick Up Passengers
To avoid congestion, only 40 Uber-X drivers at a time may wait in a holding area to pick up passengers. During peak travel periods, that may lead to increased wait times, so factor that in to your decision to use Uber. Don’t think you will do any better with a taxi though — lines are often terrible for taxis as well.
3. Use UberPOOL at LAX to Save Money
UberPOOL is an incredible way to make Uber-X even cheaper. Essentially, you share a ride with someone else going in your direction and it cuts your bill in half. Each carpooler is allowed one companion. UberPOOL has been a great tool for traveling within Los Angeles and I also use it each time I fly into and out of SFO. What if no one is going where you are going? No problem — the driver will wait up to five minutes and then depart with you alone and you’ll still get half-off (and in case you are concerned about the driver, Uber pays the other half).
4. Be Aware of Surge Pricing During Busy Times at LAX
Surge pricing, higher prices during busier periods, is the one downside of using Uber. I’ve seen surge pricing as high as 2.5x in LA and that means it becomes cheaper to use a taxi (assuming you can get one). That said, I’ve never run into surge pricing leaving either SFO or DAL (Dallas Love) airport, presumably because there will always be a healthy supply of drivers wanting to pick up traditionally more lucrative airport fares.
5. There is No Need to Tip LAX Uber Drivers
What I love about Uber (and dislike about Lyft) is that you don’t tip drivers — everything is included in the fare and your credit card is charged directly. You see, I hate carrying cash and generally don’t carry anything more than a $20 bill. Feel free to tip, but I think it is bad idea because it undermines the very concept of Uber and perpetuates a culture of tipping in America (not that tipping is going anywhere, but we can all dream for a Japan-like tipping culture).
Are Uber drivers paid a living wage? Do they earn enough money? I put this question to every Uber drive I ride with, and the answer is resoundingly yes — it is one reason I am a big proponent of Uber. Most Uber drivers do it part-time and are incredibly grateful they can work a couple hours each night for an extra $500 per week.