uber lyft airport queues

Is It Worth It To Wait In The Uber and Lyft Airport Queue?

I get a lot of emails asking about Uber and Lyft airport pick ups and drop offs.

The three most common topics are:

  • Uber And Lyft Airport Requirements
  • Short Distance Rides From The Airport
  • Long Wait Times In The Uber And Lyft Airport Queues

Uber And Lyft Airport Trade Dress (Signage) Requirements

Each Uber & Lyft market has different airport requirements. In general, the signage requirements are the same as if you were driving anywhere else in your market. However, some markets (Chicago) require an airport sticker or emblem.

The only major exceptions to this are at the LAX (Los Angeles) and SAN (San Diego) airports.


uber airport requirements

For some reason, at those airports, you can only display signage from one company. It’s a stupid rule that has no reason for existing. However, if you are caught with both Uber and Lyft signs on your car at either airport, you’re facing a major fine.

So, if you are dropping off a Lyft rider at LAX, make sure to take your Uber signage down. If you’re picking up an Uber passenger from SAN, take your Lyft sign down.

Yes, it makes no sense. But that’s how it is at those two airports.

As for other markets, simply check the Lyft or Uber site for airport requirements in your market. Usually, there aren’t any major additional requirements, besides an airport sticker or emblem.

Short Distance Rides From The Airport

This is by far the biggest complaint I hear about airport pickups. A driver sits in the lot for an hour, and then gets a request from the terminal. When they get to the terminal, they find out the passenger is only going to an airport hotel 10 minutes away.

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In order to fix this issue, both Uber and Lyft have been testing short ride return to queue systems for airport pickups. Basically, if you get a short ride from the airport, you can return to the queue and you’ll still be at the front of the line.

Unfortunately, the fix only seems to work if the ride was a minimum fare, or close to it. Most places, it seems if the ride is longer than 10 minutes, you don’t get placed in the front of the queue.

Long Wait Times In The Uber And Lyft Airport Lots

If you’ve noticed the wait times at the airport getting longer and longer, you’re not going crazy. They actually have gotten longer and there two reasons for it.

First, for some reason, many drivers seem to go to the airport when it’s slow out. I don’t know why, but in general, this is not a profitable move. All that’s likely to happen is that you’ll sit in the lot for an hour when you could’ve been giving rides. Also, there’s no guarantee that after waiting an hour, you’re going to get a long and profitable ride. You could get a short ride going to an airport hotel.

So, if you were told to go to the airport when it’s not busy, stop doing that.

The second reason airport queue times have increase is that both Uber & Lyft have started pre-matching drivers with pickups. The way it works is that when you are close to dropping off a passenger at the terminal, you’ll get immediately matched with a rider leaving the airport. It’s great, but it also makes the airport lot queue move even slower.

To Wait Or Not To Wait, That Is The Question

In most markets, and at most times, it simply doesn’t pay to wait in the airport lot anymore. If you don’t get pre-matched with a passenger as you’re doing an airport dropoff, it usually makes more sense to get back on the road.

However, in some markets, this may not be the case. If your market doesn’t have pre-matching, the airport queue will likely move faster.

Also, if the airport in your market is really out of the way, and traffic is just terrible (like it is in Los Angeles all the time), then it may make sense to wait in the lot. Also, if your car is dirty, and you want to wipe it down and clean the interior, might as well do that while waiting in the airport queue.

Aside from those exceptions though, you are more likely to make more money if you just leave the airport after dropping off.

Photo by airlines470

Photo by tvanhoosear

how to get more lyft pings

How To Get More Uber Pings Or Lyft Requests

Getting More Lyft Requests Or Uber Pings

During the morning and evening rush, and on weekends, it’s usually pretty busy on Lyft and Uber. However, it can slow down a bit at other times. If it’s 1:00PM on a Wednesday, it’s a decent bet that neither platform will be very busy. When that happens, it’s important to have a few places you can drive to where you’re likely to get a ride.

Lyft Rider Waiting For Pickup


9 Places Where You Can Find More Uber And Lyft Riders

Most of the places on the list have one major thing in common. People tend to leave and arrive throughout the day. This means you’ll have a higher likelihood of getting a request during an off-peak driving time.

  1. Universities, Community Colleges & Vocational Schools
  2. Medical Facilities
  3. Bus Stations & Train Stations
  4. Hotel Clusters
  5. “Bad” Areas Of Town
  6. Conventions
  7. Large Corporate Facilities
  8. The County Lockup
  9. Suburbs

Universities, Community Colleges & Vocational Schools

If you drop off a rider in a suburb, and it’s 10:30AM on a Thursday, see if there’s a community college nearby. The first round of classes at most schools have probably ended or are about to. There’s likely a few students who don’t have another class and want to go home. In some cities, Lyft has made deals with universities to provide discounted rides to students. If you live in one of these cities, you’re chances of finding a rider are even higher.

Medical Facilities

Hospitals are big places with many different departments. Not all the departments are on the same schedule, which means you may have shifts ending throughout the day. On top of that, patients also get released throughout the day. Besides hospitals, there are large medical buildings and centers that perform a lot of outpatient procedures. However, a patient often isn’t allowed to drive after certain procedures, so they’ll need a ride. Finally, both Lyft and Uber have been partnering with health care providers to give people rides to doctors appointments from nursing homes, rehab centers, and other facilities. Often, these can be fairly long and lucrative rides.

Bus Stations & Train Stations

Know where the bus depots and Amtrak stations are in your area. If you drop off near one, head on over. If it’s not a particular busy depot or station, check the schedule first to see if any arrivals are due soon. Expect a mix of short and long rides. Sometimes, it’ll just be to a hotel in the area. Other times, it may be a long trip to the suburbs.

Hotel Clusters

There are certain areas that tend to have clusters (5-10 or more) of hotels. You’ll often find them around convention centers, theme parks, and downtown areas. You have a decent shot of getting a ping, and if you’re lucky, it’ll be an airport run. You’ll also find hotel clusters around airports themselves, but with those locations you risk a getting short rides to the airport. The other examples will likely be more lucrative.

A quick word on airports. I used to recommend going to the airport when it wasn’t busy. That’s no longer the case. The airport queues are much longer than they used to be. Sometimes, you can wait over an hour with no guarantee of a great fare.

“Bad” Areas Of town

Believe it or not, many parts of cities that are considered bad areas, actually aren’t bad at all. Take South L.A. and the South Side of Chicago. Both areas, except for a few small sections, are actually fine. And yet, they both have horrible reputations. How did this happen? Well, one person said it was a bad area. After that, I’m guessing a few people who don’t live in those areas, and never go to those areas, started repeating it until it became gospel.

Don’t believe everything you hear. People live and work in those areas, and they take Lyft and Uber. If you ignore them, you’re leaving money on the table.


Look at the calenders for all the convention centers with 30 miles of you, and make note of the convention and event dates. At most conventions, people are coming and going all day, so rides will be plentiful. Often, you can find out if a convention has an official or recommended hotel. If they do, that hotel is likely to be particularly busy during the convention.

Large Corporate Facilities

If any companies have a corporate headquarters or other large facility in your area, make a note of the location. A headquarters or office is likely to be a better place to find rides than a factory or production facility. The reason is that more people will be going to and from a corporate headquarters or office for a meeting, than to the production facility.


Overall, the city is more lucrative than the suburbs. However, the suburbs can be a decent bet if there’s a sporting or other type of event going on in the city. Also, find out which suburbs near you have a decent nightlife area. Those burbs tend to be fairly good places to find rides if you wind up there in the evening. Eventually, you’ll find a ride that takes you back to the city. If not, use your destination setting to get back.

The Local Lockup

The county or local jail is often overlooked. However, people get arrested for stuff like DUI’s everyday. They usually make bail the next day, and then have to get home. Their car has been impounded, but they’ve still got their cell phone. It’s pretty likely they call for a Lyft or Uber.

Final Take: As always, don’t drive around unnecessarily and waste gas. If you go to a community college to wait for a ride request, pull into the parking lot or find a place to pull over. At certain times of the day, riders can seem pretty hard to find. However, people take Uber and Lyft throughout the day. Hopefully, these suggestions make it a little easier for you to find riders when it’s not that busy out. Take care out there, and drive profitably.