Whether you’re headed home for a big family meal or traveling for fun, getting to and from the airport during the holidays can be the most hectic part of a most-hectic journey. Crowded, chaotic terminals, a dearth of good public transit options, and mile-long taxi lines can make even the most seasoned travelers lose their calm. In many cities, like San Francisco and Portland, ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft can be a saving grace. In others, like Miami and Boston, city regulations prohibit drivers from making airport transfers or slap on an extra fee. Here’s what you need to know about using ride-shares for airport transfers in eleven major U.S. cities, from New York to L.A.
New York City
The Port Authority is considering charging an access fee for Uber and other ride-share services, but it’s not likely to affect holiday travel plans. Currently, Uber has dedicated lots near JFK, Laguardia, and Newark Airports where drivers wait to be pinged by riders. Keep in mind that with high demand for taxis and ride-shares, wait times can be long. Luckily, New York has excellent public transit options. The Airtrain will transport passengers for $5 to the Howard Beach subway station, where it’s possible to transfer to the A train, or the Jamaica Station, where passengers can connect to the E, J, and Z trains or the Long Island Railroad.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority recently added a $4 surcharge per ride. The added fee brings Uber and other ride-share services into compliance with airport regulations and Virginia law, which will allow them to bring passengers between Washington, D.C. and Dulles International Airport or Reagan National Airport.
Ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft are now able to start picking up passengers at Chicago's O’Hare and Midway Airports.
Uber is currently battling a lawsuit over an $8.75 airport fee it tacks onto rides to and from Logan Airport. Uber drivers must register as livery vehicles in order to comply with a state law forbidding personal vehicles from responding to ride requests at Logan. Consider taking the Silver Line—it’s free and will give passengers a free transfer to the Red Line, which traverses downtown Boston and continues to Cambridge.
Drivers for Uber, Lyft, and other rideshares wait in a designated area to be pinged by customers, who they can then pick up in the departures area. Uber has flat rates for passengers traveling from SFO to San Francisco ($65), Palo Alto ($86), and Oakland ($81).
In May, Uber and Lyft were granted permits to pick up and drop off passengers at Portland International Airport. Travelers coming through PDX can find their driver near the baggage claim area on the lower roadway. There’s a $2 fee for rides to and from the airport, but Uber fares may be as low at $22.
Uber and Lyft have temporary permits to drop off and pick up passengers at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and will charge a $1 fee to do so.
Last month, the Clark County Commission approved a measure allowing transportation network companies, including Uber and Lyft, to provide rides connecting McCarran International Airport to Las Vegas. Each drop off and pick up incurs a $2.45 fee.
Regulations at Seattle-Tacoma Airport currently allow peer-to-peer service (i.e. Lyft and UberX) to drop off passengers, but prohibit them from picking people up. However, passengers can request UberBLACK and UberSUV service, since those drivers operate under limousine and chauffeur rules. Flat rates from Sea-Tac to downtown Seattle are $55 for UberBLACK and $65 for UberSUV.
Uber X is widely available in Miami proper, but it is illegal for Uber to pick up at Miami Dade Airport. The Points Guy reports that drivers might pick you up, but the situation is pretty shady and could cost $90 for a 15-minute trip from the airport to South Beach. You’re better off taking a yellow cab.
Though L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti has stated that Uber and Lyft would be able to pick up passengers at LAX by this summer, it now looks like that might not happen until Thanksgiving or possibly the end of the year.