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Like many of you, I love ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft!
Not only is the entire experience better than taking a cab but Uber and Lyft are usually 40% cheaper than taxis! For international travelers like myself, Uber is great because it is available in 700 DIFFERENT CITIES and with Uber the rates are set so I know I won’t get scammed by local taxi drivers.
Just last month, I used Uber in Saigon, Vietnam and it was extremely cheap and much better than trying to negotiate the price with the local taxi cartel.
I have also used UberX and Lyft to go to the airport in Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), New York (JFK & LGA), between Washington Dulles (IAD) to National (DCA) all without issue.
While Lyft & Uber are legal in most cities now, the one place where taxis have really dug in against ridesharing is airport pickups because taxis actually have to pay the airport for the right to pick up passengers there while ridesharing doesn’t.
Can I Use Uber To Go To The Airport?
Regardless of where you live in the world, you can use Uber or Lyft to go to the airport without issue! Although just be aware that occasionally (like in Saigon or NYC), Uber has a flat rate to the airport which they don’t always make clear when you request a ride.
So my advice is to just always do a fare estimate before you request the ride.
Can I Use Uber From The Airport?
Yes but there is a little trick…
Requesting a Uber or Lyft while at the airport is slightly more complicated because in many cities ridesharing companies “aren’t allowed” to pick up people from the airport. Thankfully there is a really easy work around which I discovered flying home from Seattle.
My flight was delayed due to thunderstorms and I eventually arrived at Chicago O’Hare (ORD) at 1AM! Normally, I’d just take public transit into the city but since it was really late and raining, I was going to take a cab until I remembered Lyft and Uber were “potentially” a much cheaper option.
I say “potentially” because while both services aren’t suppose 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 just hang out in the parking lot with the hope that they can pick up a passenger who is going back into the city.
I fired up Uber and there were a couple drivers in the area but because Uber knew via my phone’s GPS that I was at ORD, it wouldn’t allow me to request an UberX ride! I could only request a more expensive Taxi, Black Car, or SUV…
A cab ride to Hyde Park would have easily been upwards of $60+ and public transit would have taken 2+ hours and probably not the safest idea at 1AM…
Since Uber allows you to drag the pin to determine your pickup location, as you can see below, I simply dragged the pin to the area directly 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 I was actually at ORD and to pick me up there. Some drivers may not want to pick you up at the airport, so if that is the case, simply cancel the ride (free to cancel within 5 minutes) and then drop the pin again.
While this “trick” doesn’t sound like much, just think about how many thousands of 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 Washington D.C last December when I needed a ride between Washington Dulles (IAD) and Washington National (DCA) airport.
You can use this trick at ANY AIRPORT WORLDWIDE, just drag the pin outside the airport and then call the driver and say you are at the airport. It is that simple!
The Enormous Price Difference By Using UberX
While I was happy to not have to take a cab from Chicago O’Hare airport (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 I 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 price war with Lyft, the total price of the ride was only $34.80 (although I did have some Uber credit so I was only charged $9.23).
If you include the tip on the taxi ($60 total), UberX was 40% cheaper…
If I had split the UberX fare with someone else, it only would have been $17 each!
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 world (San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Washington D.C, New York, Saigon, Bangkok) 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!