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The traffic situation at the Los Angeles International Airport has long been an issue, but it’s only become worse due to the increased popularity of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. However, LAX has implemented a new process called LAXit that seems to be working. This same process will likely be used at other busy airports and venues in the near future. Though the process can be confusing for travelers, so we’ll cover how to get an Uber at LAX under the new rules.
Traffic at LAX
Traveling through LAX is an absolute nightmare when it comes to traffic. It’s taken an hour in the past to get a pick-up from the airport since drivers get stuck in the loop that serves all nine terminals. Even when I’ve picked up Fiona from the airport, it’s taken me an hour to get through the loop!
As a result, the Los Angeles International Airport implemented a new approach for Uber, Lyft, and taxi pick-ups. The new process was piloted at the Portland International Airport earlier this year. If you’ve traveled through Portland and requested an Uber at the airport, you might have already experienced this new process.
Though the initial implementation at LAX was bumpy. There were a lot of complaints from travelers who had to wait for extended periods of time. However, it looks like the ride-sharing companies and airport officials have managed to figure it out. The program is now called LAXit.
For those of you who are familiar with calling an Uber or Lyft ride at the airport, you’re probably used to timing the call so that you’re minimizing the amount of wait time. In fact, Fiona and I argue about this all the time because she prefers to request the ride as we’re walking off the plane. However, I prefer to do it when we’re closer to the airport exit. I think I’m paranoid about getting a low rating as a passenger in case my driver gets there before me. Though with this new process, it doesn’t matter since you’re not reserving a driver when you request a ride.
Where to get your Uber or Lyft pick-up
To start off, you can’t request a ride-sharing pick-up in the departures or arrivals loop like you could before. All pick-ups now occur in a special lot next to terminal 1. To get there, you’ll want to follow the signs to LAXit, which is the new pick-up area. You’ll hop on the shuttle to the new lot. Keep in mind that it’s not just Uber and Lyft that are using the lot, but also taxi companies. If you prefer to use a taxi, then you’ll still want to go to the LAXit lot. Though if you’re planning on a taxi, I would strongly consider an Uber or Lyft ride. You’ll not only pay less, but you won’t have to exchange money with the driver. The entire transaction takes place in the app.
New request process
The rest of the process is mostly the same as a normal ride. The big difference is that instead of matching your ride with a driver, you’re provided a code instead. Depending on the service provider that you use, you’ll go to the appropriate line. You’re then paired with the next available driver, who will ask you for your PIN before you enter the vehicle. The driver can still deny you a ride based on your destination or rating. Though if you are denied, you can try another driver who may be willing to accept your ride.
It’s not a huge difference in process, but I see how travelers might be confused since everything is so fast-paced once you get to the lot. The key takeaways are that you’re essentially getting the next available driver instead of a specific driver that is matched to your request. This means that you’re not at the mercy of your driver canceling the ride at the last minute. This happens often when there is a lot of traffic. On the flip side, it also means that a driver could deny your ride. This may occur if you’re traveling extremely far from the airport.
Also, you don’t have to request your ride as soon as you land. You can do it anytime before you meet a driver, even while you’re waiting in line for your ride.
This process might be coming to your airport or local venue
I have a feeling that they are going to use this exact same system for other airports and venues. For example, I tried getting a ride home from the Hollywood Bowl a few months ago and had about five different drivers cancel on me since the area is so congested. I think making it “first come first served” in these situations is a win for riders.
Tips for getting a ride at LAX
Below are some additional tips to keep in mind when getting a ride at LAX.
1. LAXit only applies to pick-ups:
If you’re planning to get a ride to the airport, then you can still be dropped off at the terminal of your choice. The LAXit program only affects pick-ups departing the airport.
2. Compare prices:
You’ll want to check the prices between Uber and Lyft when requesting rides. I do this all the time since the difference can be substantial, especially during peak times. Depending on the supply of drivers and demand of riders, the service can enter “surge” or “prime time” pricing. This means that you could be charged extra for your trip. It pays to check both services to compare prices.
3. Familiarize yourself with the general rate:
It helps to know the general price for a ride from the airport to your destination. I recommend checking the rates for both Uber and Lyft in advance using their websites. The Uber fare estimator gives you the estimated rate and also lets you enter the day and time that you are traveling. It relies on historical data to give you the estimated rate. The Lyft fare estimator, on the other hand, doesn’t let you specify the time or date of travel. However, it provides an estimated range.
4. Use other transportation options:
If you’re facing high prices or long wait times (e.g. during holiday travels), you might consider taking other transportation options to get you away from the airport before relying on ride-sharing services. LAX, for example, has the Flyaway Bus that can transport you to one of four locations in the greater LA area. The fare ranges from $8 to $10, which is an excellent deal. Once you arrive at the Flyaway bus station, you can get an Uber or Lyft ride which should be cheaper if it’s closer to your destination.
In the past, there was also a trick that a lot of Los Angeles travelers would use to bypass the airport traffic. This involved taking a hotel, car rental, or parking lot shuttle to move away from the airport terminals. Though most parking lot shuttles now require that you show your parking reservation ticket when entering the shuttle. Using the hotel and rental car shuttles probably still works. If you’re adventurous, it might be worth trying it to get away from the airport and arrange your Uber or Lyft ride from there.
5. Use a rewards card:
Some credit cards classify ride-sharing services as a travel expense. This includes Chase cards like the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve. The American Express Platinum offers a monthly Uber credit. If you’re someone who uses ride-sharing services often, then it might be worth getting a card that can reward you for it.
Have you used the new ride-sharing process at LAX? If so, what has been your experience?
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