Can I Uber or Lyft after I land? It’s complicated. Here’s your airport cheat sheet

A car with Uber and Lyft stickers on its windshield leaves the departure level at LAX. Soon ride-share operations should be able to pick up and drop off at the airport.

A car with Uber and Lyft stickers on its windshield leaves the departure level at LAX. Soon ride-share operations should be able to pick up and drop off at the airport.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

If all goes as planned, travelers soon may be able to summon ride-share providers such as UberX and Lyft to take them home after they deplane at Los Angeles International Airport.

For passengers, that’s great news—at least, financially speaking. A cab from LAX to downtown can cost $50 or more without tip.

Ride-share market leaders Uber and Lyft charge closer to $30 for the same trip, except during periods of high demand when they cost more, sometimes considerably more, a phenomenon Uber calls “surge pricing.”

But ride sharing, becoming an an issue in the presidential campaign along with other sharing economy issues, is not such great news for cab drivers and taxi companies, which now have a near-monopoly at LAX, van-shared rides aside.

The change could occur as soon as September.

For now, drivers can drop off passengers anywhere at LAX, but they can’t pick up passengers.

Under current LAX rules, only professional taxi and livery drivers can collect passengers for money.

Uber does have a business segment that dispatches professional drivers, but that service is more expensive than UberX.

But what about elsewhere? Here’s a quick guide for airports in the Southland, elsewhere in the U.S. and a few overseas. Below the chart are details from each of those airports that explain why the rules and regulations are as they are.


Airport Drop-offs allowed? Pickups allowed?
Los Angeles International Yes Pending
Burbank Bob Hope Yes Yes, but not at main terminal
John Wayne/Orange County Yes Yes
Long Beach Yes No
Ontario Yes No, unless the driver has a permit
San Diego Yes Yes
Atlanta Yes No
Austin Yes Yes
Baltimore-Washington No No
Chicago O'Hare Yes No
Denver Yes Yes
Houston George Bush Yes Yes
Las Vegas No, for now No, for now
Miami No No
New York's JFK
and LaGuardia
Yes Yes
Oakland Yes Yes
Phoenix Yes Yes
Portland Yes Yes
San Francisco Yes Yes
Seattle-Tacoma Yes No
Washington Dulles
and Reagan National
Yes Yes
Auckland, New Zealand Yes Yes
London Heathrow Yes Yes
Melbourne, Australia Yes Yes
Sydney, Australia No No


Southern California

Burbank Bob Hope

Details: Ride-share drivers may drop off passengers at Burbank, but they can't make pickups on the roadway of the main terminal.

Ride-share drivers can wait in the airport’s parking lots for arriving passengers. The airport charges $3 for 30 minutes of parking, which is usually passed on to riders.

John Wayne/Orange County

Details: After first allowing only drop-offs, Orange County’s airport earlier this year started allowing ride-share drivers to pick up passengers.

So far Lyft, Uber and Wingz have acquired permits.

Each month, companies must provide the airport with driver activity logs and pay the airport $2.25 for each pickup, just as other commercial drivers pay.

Long Beach

Details: Anyone may drop off passengers at Long Beach airport, but ride-share drivers can't pick up passengers at the terminal.

The Long Beach City Council would need to make a policy change to permit Lyft, UberX and other ride-share drivers to collect travelers. “Long Beach is exploring this as a citywide issue,” said airport spokeswoman Stephanie Montuya-Morisky.


Details: Although Ontario airport is run by the same authority as LAX, the recent action by the L.A. Board of Airport Commissioners is not applicable in Ontario, said Jess Romo, the airport’s manager.

All drivers may drop off passengers at Ontario, but only drivers with permits may pick up travelers, effectively making it impossible for travelers to hail a Lyft or UberX from the terminals. “We do expect to undertake an initiative that will address ONT in near future,” Romo said.

San Diego

Details: Lyft and UberX acquired permits in early July that allow drivers to pick up and drop off passengers at San Diego's Lindbergh Field.

By June 30,  the airport operator will determine how to move forward with this pilot project. Ride-sharing companies must pay the airport $3.76 for each pickup.

Other U.S. airports


Details: Before ride-share drivers can pick up passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the City Council must direct the airport to issue permits to Uber and Lyft, said airport spokesman Reese McCranie.

The council is studying the issue, as is the city's Department of Aviation.

"Should the Atlanta City Council give its approval for ride share services to pick up passengers, the Department of Aviation will move quickly to issue permits," McCranie said.


Details: Lyft and UberX drivers may pick up and drop off passengers at Austin-Bergstrom airport in Texas. Trips from the airport are subject to a $1 surcharge. Drivers cannot wait on airport property and can come to the airport only when they have a fare.


Details: UberX and Lyft are technically not supposed to operate at BWI, but Jonathan O. Dean, a spokesman for the airport authority, said the airport plans to develop new rules that will allow ride-sharing.

Chicago O’Hare

Details: Ride-share drivers can drop off passengers at O’Hare, said airport spokesman Owen Kilmer, but they cannot make pickups.

More than 6,000 people have signed a petition organized by UberX to ask for a rule change, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel has not budged.

O’Hare does allow UberTaxi to pick up riders at the terminals, but as its name suggests, this is simply a taxi service driven by professionals.


Details: Denver was one of the first major airports in the United States to allow ride-share drivers to make pickups with new rules it adopted last fall.

The airport adds a fee of $2.15 on all fares.

Note, ride-share pickups are on Level 4, not the same level used by taxis and limos.

Houston George Bush

Details: UberX drivers can drop off and pick up passengers at the terminals at Houston George Bush Intercontinental, said Bill Begley, spokesman for the Houston Airport System. (Lyft doesn’t operate in Houston.)

Uber pays $2.75 per trip to the airport, the same charge as taxis, Begley said. The Houston City Council approved the new plan late last year.

Las Vegas

Details: Ride-share companies are temporarily banned from operating in Nevada. But the Nevada Transportation Authority is working on new rules, and the cars could be back on the streets later this year.

After state clearance, McCarran Airport expects to develop its own rules and fees, said spokesman Chris Jones.


Details: Technically Lyft and UberX are illegal in Miami-Dade County, including at the airport. You may find them operating anyway.

If caught, drivers can receive two citations, each carrying a fine of $1,000. Passengers are not cited.

Eventually, the rules probably will evolve.

“We often point out that Miami-Dade County operates with a 20th century regulatory code in the 21st century,” said Mike Hernandez, spokesman for county Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

“That's unfortunate, but we are working to change that.”

New York’s JFK and LaGuardia

Details: Uber and Lyft operate at John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia, but unlike almost everywhere else, New York requires ride-share drivers to obtain a license from the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

As a result, drivers can pick up and drop off passengers at the airports just as other livery drivers do.


Details: In August, the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners OKd an eight-month-long pilot project.

Safety standards and rider reaction will be assessed.


Details: Any driver may drop off passengers at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. Sky Harbor also allows ride-share drivers to make airport pickups, but rules for doing so are onerous.

Before drivers may pick up passengers, they must first obtain a permit, which includes a background check and a vehicle inspection, said airport spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez.

Permits aren't cheap, $100 per quarter, and the background check costs $39. Drivers must also pay $11 for a special tag.

“We are having discussions about streamlining the process, while maintaining a level playing field for all ground transportation providers,” Rodriguez said.


Details: In the spring, Lyft, UberX and Wingz got the OK to drop off and pick up passengers at Portland, Ore.'s airport.

Dropoffs are easy, but there’s a special process for pickups. If you're looking for an UberX, your driver will meet you in a special area just outside of baggage claim.

For pickups and dropoffs, passengers pay a $2 fee.

San Francisco

Details: Another early adopter, SFO allows drivers from all major ride-share companies to pick up and drop off passengers.

Each company pays a trip fee of $3.85 for both pickups or dropoffs, said Doug Yakel, an airport spokesman.


Details: Anyone can drop off passengers at Seattle-Tacoma airport, but by contract only Yellow Cab drivers can pick up passengers “on demand” at the airport, said spokesman Perry Cooper.

That contract expires at the end of October, and Perry said the Port of Seattle Commission is considering altering the rules.

“We are in the middle of the process with several outreach meetings with stakeholders in the industry to gather input,” he said.

Washington Dulles and Reagan National

Details: You can take a ride-share car to and from Washington Dulles and Reagan National, although a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority acknowledges the rules governing pickups are antiquated.

Drivers can pick up a passenger only if the passenger has prearranged the ride before the driver enters airport property.

When passengers try to hail a ride at Reagan, Uber sends them a message reading, “Airport rules require your driver to call you for your exact location and final destination prior to pick up.”

New rules allowing on-airport staging could be approved later this year.

International airports

Note, Lyft doesn’t operate outside the United States.

Auckland, New Zealand

Details: Ride-share drivers can drop off and pick up passengers at Auckland Airport, said spokesman Simon Lambourne.

“All prebooked taxis pick up from a dedicated area close to the terminals – including Uber,” he said.

Drivers must pay about $2.60 to access the area.

London Heathrow

Details: Uber handles pickups and dropoffs at Heathrow. Uber says passengers pay a fee of about $6 as a “small parking charge.”

Uber recommends customers request a car about 10 to 15 minutes before they need it. Drivers will meet passengers at any arrivals hall.

Melbourne, Australia

Details: UberX drivers may pick up and drop off passengers at Melbourne’s international airport, a spokeswoman for the airport said.

There are currently no special regulations or fees, but that will probably change soon.

Sydney, Australia

Details: UberX is not legal in New South Wales, the state where Sydney is located, so you won't be taking a ride-share to or from the Sydney Airport.

“In accordance with state legislation, drivers cannot accept fares from members of the public unless they are licensed under the Passenger Transport Act,” an airport spokeswoman said.


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