As Matthew recently wrote, LAX shared ride pickups have been a mess since the switch to a central pick-up zone. But you can save money and perhaps even time on your next Uber or Lyft ride with a little effort.
Horrible Uber + Lyft Wait Times At LAX
This last Sunday my parents flew into LAX arriving around 11:30am and what they experienced can only be described as a disaster. Over one hour elapsed between the time they claimed their luggage and the time they boarded their Lyft. And Lyft was going “quickly” compared to Uber, where the line of people waiting for their cars was over 100 deep. My mom said it reminded her of one of those movies where everyone is trying to get on the spaceship to escape Earth and she estimated that had they been taking Uber it would have cost them another hour.
They choose to take the bus to the pickup and there was no-one to help them get their bags on the bus. This wasn’t a huge deal for my parents (who are in their mid 70’s) since my Dad is still quite fit. But for someone who might need help lifting a large checked bag, it’s a major issue. Additionally, the pickup area where you have to wait for your car is uncovered. So, if it’s raining your going to be standing out in the rain while you wait…
Lyft seemed to be functioning better my mom said because they were not assigning specific drivers to specific pickups. What happened was that they gave you a code and the line of cars essentially functioned like a taxi rank. When you got to the front, the driver was given your code which pulled up your trip in the driver’s Lyft app. Uber apparently was still trying to match drivers and parties, which resulted in drivers having to make multiple circuits in and out of the airport.
I want to caveat that the above is based on my parent’s observations and might not be fully accurate or may have already been superseded by changes to try and make things better.
> Read More: “LAXit” Will Expand After Rough First Week
Horrific Surge Pricing At LAX
Now for the real shocker. Their Lyft to their home in Fullerton was $185. Yep $185. When I got that text I about had a heart attack. I called them to suggest looking at a Super Shuttle but by that time they were already in the car and on their way home. At those prices I was motivated to start looking for other options.
It struck me that perhaps the major reason for the high fares was the airport itself. What would the fare be like if you were requesting pickup from one of the airport hotels right outside the airport on Century Boulevard? I expected some price drop, but I was astonished by what I found. As you can see from the pictures, at the time I checked an Uber from the airport to my parents home was $118.30. Departing from the Hilton Los Angeles Airport dropped the fare to $45.55, a reduction of around 62%.
Checking Lyft the quote from the airport was $93.55 and from the Hilton $40.74 or about 56% off!
Want To Save Money On Uber Or Lyft? Leave The Airport
All of the airport hotels have shuttles (in many cases one shuttle is shared between several hotels) and their drivers will help you with loading and unloading your bags from the shuttle. Tipping is of course customary for this service.
My advice is if you need an Uber/Lyft after arriving into LAX compare the price from the airport with the price from an area hotel. Given the number of airport hotels its also likely that you can get to one far quicker than you can get to the shared ride pick-up area. If you decide to go to an airport hotel, I’d just grab the first shuttle that comes around go to that hotel and order your car.
[Matthew (editor) here. I know hotels generally frown upon this practice and the Parking Spot, located next to In-N-Out on Sepulveda Boulevard, has really cracked down on this sort of thing. I would absolutely take advantage of this loophole until LAX gets its act together. At the same time, don’t be surprised if hotels crack down on this or get smart and start charging a fee to ride the bus. Even if they did this, you would still come out ahead. It is obscene that the discrepancy in pricing is so great between the two locations, less than a mile away. You can even save money by just walking past the LAXit lot to the Hyatt Regency, a very short walk away and very manageable with rollerboard luggage.]
I suspect the situation may get better over time but certainly based on my parent’s experience during high demand times or during inclement weather, at the moment “LAXit” a total mess.