9 Things Every Traveler Should Know About Uber and Airports

Toby Streett, July 29, 2015
Fares from Washington DC:

    Chances are, you're already familiar with Uber, the app-based car service that is revolutionizing the way many of us get around town--specifically, via the Uber X service, a highly affordable and easy alternative to taxis, public transportation and, in some cities, owning your own vehicle.

    In many regions where the service is operating and legal, however, there's one giant gap in the service: the airport. While a drop-off is nearly always legal at this point, pickups are often still a risky business for drivers, who can be slapped with tickets or, worse, have their car seized. (Enforcement officials in New York snapped up nearly 500 Uber cars at JFK and LaGuardia this spring.) Below is a list of things every traveler should know about Uber and airports.

    Most major airports located where Uber cars are within a drivable distance have a "no hanging out" policy, which is a result of many of these cars in the past essentially poaching at curbside pickup and crowding the already crowded lanes of taxis, buses, cars, and shuttle buses. And with Uber now serving 311 cities at the time of this writing, you can imagine how crowded some of these pickup areas were getting. Long story short: If you're expecting to see Ubers driving around at curbside, think again--unless you're at LAX, which just allowed curbside pickup in mid-July, 2015.

    Not all Ubers are available. That's right, if you're expecting to order an Uber from LAX or LGA and saving a little money by ordering a basic Uber, you should check in advance on which types of Ubers are available. For example, in Honolulu, only four classes of Uber are available; but in Los Angeles, you can select from six classes. Green Bay only offers the Uber X. So it's best to check in advance if you have a preferred style, because it may not be available. Ubers come in:

    • Uber X - The "low-cost" Uber.
    • Uber XL - Designed for low-cost rides for larger groups.
    • Uber Plus - A step up from the X.
    • Uber Black - The original.
    • Uber SUV - Need we say more?
    • Uber Lux - The ultimate in luxury.
    • Uber Taxi - Standard taxi meter rates will apply and Uber adds an automatic 20% gratuity.

    Uber is dog-friendly. If you're flying home or away with Fido, Uber can accommodate your dogs in the car (but it's best to call your driver to confirm this right after you've ordered).

    You can save more money on Uber by using Quicksilver from Capital One. Using Quicksilver, Uber riders get 20% back as a statement credit on every Uber ride through April 2016.

    You can get a price quote. Using the Uber app, you can enter your pickup location and destination, tap on Fare Quote, and get an estimate.

    You can split a fare with other Uber riders. If you're traveling with someone who also uses the Uber app, it's simple to split the fare by tapping on "Split fare" and selecting your fellow traveler. You'll both be charged equally (after a small transaction fee).

    Be safe and check to make sure the car you're getting into is indeed an Uber. People have gotten themselves into some hairy situations by hopping into a waiting black car that was not an Uber, so check your driver's image and name on your app and match it with the actual driver before getting in the vehicle.

    Be aware of surge pricing. During busier times of the day, fares can go up (unlike a cab).

    Drag the pin. Since Uber sometimes won't allow an Uber X pickup at the airport, one clever way to work around this is to drag the pin in the app to a location just outside the airport. Once the driver is on the way, call him/her and let 'em know that you're at the airport. If they refuse to come, you can cancel the ride with no charges within 5 minutes of ordering.

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