Once upon a time when ride sharing programs were just emerging, they were very difficult to use for airport pickup. Most airports didn’t want independent drivers picking up travelers, because they had existing deals with taxi companies and professional car services. The result was that if you happened to arrive at an airport with the hopes of securing a ride sharing arrangement through the app of your choice, you never really knew what options you might have. Even if you did get a driver to come your way, he or she would want to do so cautiously so as to avoid attention. It wasn’t even unheard of for drivers to pretend to be relatives or friends picking you up, so that they didn’t wind up being fined for operating where they weren’t supposed to!
For the most part, things have gotten easier with regard to the use of these services at airports. Many airports (though not all) have reached agreements with companies to allow drivers to operate on their premises. As a result, it’s become far more common to see these drivers making pickups, now without the shenanigans of play-acting as friends or relatives. But while things have eased up a little bit, it can still be frustrating to opt for ride sharing for an airport pickup for a number of different reasons.
First and foremost, you usually have to walk to a designated area for pickup, and usually ride sharing companies seem to have the last priority. In some cases, you might have to bypass a taxi and car service lane, then walk past a bus lane, and then find the specific area where you’re meant to wait for the ride you’ve summoned. It’s not an unmanageable hassle, but typically when you’re just getting off a plane, you’re ready to go. Navigating pickup traffic patterns can be a little bit irritating at this stage of the game.
Second, even if you manage to find the right pickup area (and somehow it’s never as easy as just reading the signs), it can be a little bit of a pain to link up with your driver. Ride sharing can be tricky in this regard no matter where you are, but at an airport there are added complications. There’s often a lot of traffic, there are other people competing for your ride, and in a lot of cases a car can’t sit and wait very long before it will be forced to circle the airport. The timing can be a little bit frustrating, and it’s not uncommon for passengers and drivers to wind up circling each other, so to speak.
Third, even though these services are meant to make it more convenient to secure a ride, you might actually wind up waiting around more if you’re at the airport. It depends somewhat on the specific location and the size of the airport, but generally speaking it’s a risky proposition to summon a ride before you’re at the specific pickup location. That means you may end up going all the way to said location before you actually link up with a driver through your app, and then having to wait for someone to come and get you. It’s not a huge inconvenience, but again, by that point in a trip most of us are just ready to collapse into someone’s backseat and be taken where we need to go!
And as a final point, it’s also worth noting that some of the drivers who work for these services can still be skittish about working at airports. Most are aware of the proper arrangements, but you’ll still find some drivers who operate without the proper permits, and can be a little bit shifty about picking you up. There may also be others who won’t even accept an arrangement at the airport, meaning it can take you longer than you expect to find a ride.
Ultimately, ride sharing applications certainly have their place. But for a situation with as many variables as airport pickup they can be fairly unreliable, and it can be easier to opt for the more professional services available.