Are Airport Queues Worth it For Uber Drivers?

Requests coming from the airport can be some of the most profitable fares for drivers. But that may come at the cost of having to wait for an extended period of time in order to get that request. Joe from The Rideshare Guy made a great video that discusses airport queues and whether it is worth your time to wait in them.

Take a look at Joe’s video, then scroll to the video transcript below to see all the points he covers.

Ideally, we would get a new pickup passenger when we do airport drop-offs

Ultimately, it would be ideal, when you’re dropping a passenger off at the airport that you have a ride coming from the airport queued and ready for you after you drop that passenger off. This does happen occasionally with Lyft during the busiest times if there’s a ton of demand at the airport. You could get a queued ride with Lyft, have it waiting for you after dropping a passenger off.

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Uber also has a feature called Re-Match. So Re-Match is basically after you drop a passenger off at the airport, you may receive a request coming from the airport immediately without needing to go to the staging lot to wait in the airport queue, essentially skipping the queue altogether. But during most of the day, the airport isn’t steadily busy. So you need a way to manage drivers that are dropping passengers off at the airport, and a way to manage those rides in a fair way.

How airport queues work with Uber and Lyft

And both Lyft and Uber first-in, first-out airport queues. Each airport is different, but most of them have staging areas where you must go to wait in order to be placed in the queue. And again, those queues work on a first-in, first-out basis. So a driver that has been waiting in the queue in driver mode the longest will get the next airport request, and so on. A lot of time throughout the day, those queues are loaded with riders waiting for rides, so the wait times for airport requests can be quite extensive. They can be pretty long.

Is it worth your time to wait in the queue?

It depends on a few factors. The main one being demand, if it’s busy. Another one being how many drivers there are actually in the queue. If there are not very many drivers it may be worth your time to wait in the queue. Also, it also depends on where your staging lot is located. If it’s nearby where you dropped the passenger off, maybe it’s easy to just drive to that staging area as opposed to needing to drive maybe a few miles or 10 minutes to get to a staging area.

For instance, here in Minneapolis and St. Paul, we have two terminals at our airport, and those terminals are separated by about three miles. The staging area that we wait in is located near terminal two. Terminal two is less busy than terminal one. Terminal one is quite a bit more busy. So most rides, most times you drop off at terminal one, you’ll need to drive three miles and 10 minutes just to get to the staging lot. Oftentimes, especially during the peak hours of the AM and PM, that may not be worth your time to drive those three miles and 10 minutes. It may just be worth your time to leave the airport altogether and get requests outside the airport, maybe even head towards the downtown areas.

Waiting in the queue could lead to a long and profitable ride. But personally, I drive exclusively for Lyft. I like to consistently achieve the Power Driver bonus. The times that I drive, I like to stay as busy as possible so waiting for a half an hour or sometimes in that queue just isn’t worth my time. So I will wait in the queue, I will drive to that staging lot, on a few occasions. The only times I really do it is during non-peak hours.

Waiting in the queue can be advantageous in off hours, when you’re not going for a bonus

If I’m driving midday and I just want to just kind of basically take a break for a little while, knowing that I’ll get a decent request after I wait, I’ll wait in the airport queue then. Our staging lot is located near terminal two, which is three miles from terminal one. If I do get a request to the airport that drops off at terminal two, since the staging lot is right there, I may just decide I’ll wait in the staging lot, even during peak hours. If I can see that that wait time might not be long, I’ll just drive to the staging lot and wait in the queue then.

I’m also using destination mode. There are times when I’ll want to end my day and I’ll get a ride out near the airport, maybe within a couple of miles, and I want to get back home since there are so many requests, your chances of getting a destination mode request are a lot higher. But it depends on where you live. I personally live towards Minneapolis, so a lot of those airport requests are going towards Minneapolis. So when I set destination mode at the airport, my chances of getting a destination request towards Minneapolis are really high.

Other things to know about airport queues: Permit placards and staging areas

One thing is a lot of airports require permits in order to make pickups and the airport. So make sure you have your permit and make sure it’s up to date. Also, a lot of airports require you to pick up passengers in specific areas. Make sure that you pick up your passenger in that designated area. If you pick them up on the curb or somewhere where you’re not supposed to, you could face a major fine. Also, you’re going to want to make sure that you have your trade dress, as well as your permit, but your trade dress properly displayed. You want to make sure that that trade dress is displayed, otherwise, you could face a fine if you don’t have that trade dress showing.

If the staging area is full, you actually must leave the airport premises. You can’t wait on the airport for requests. You have to be in that staging lot, and if the staging lot is full, you have to leave. Another thing, once you actually get into the staging lot, once you enter the staging lot, you should be able to view your place within the queue in both driver apps. You should be able to see where you’re sitting in the queue.

Passenger cancellations don’t affect your position in line, but your cancellations do

Also, passenger cancellations don’t affect your place in the queue. They’re not the greatest experience, but if you do leave the queue after getting a request and your passenger cancels on you, just head back to the queue and if you’re there within a few minutes, you’ll be placed right back at the front of the line in the queue. But driver cancellations do affect your place in the queue. So if you miss a request or if you cancel a ride, you’re placed in the back of the queue. You’re placed all the way to the back of the queue if that does happen.

What about short rides from the airport?

Also, short rides from the airport are really bad experiences, especially if you’ve been waiting a long time. It’s not worth your time to do that. Lyft and Uber have both implemented a feature. It’s like a short ride bump. So, basically, if you get a short ride from the airport, you could get a message from Lyft or Uber saying you qualify for a short ride bump. If you head back to the staging lot, you could be placed in a higher position in the queue. So you’ll get another airport request if you decide to go back to that airport staging area, back to wait in the queue.

There’s also a feature that Uber calls Pre-Match and Lyft calls Pre-dispatch. If you’re waiting in the queue, you may get a message saying, “Go ahead and start driving towards the terminal and you’ll get a request along the way.” This basically, this feature reduces wait time for passengers that are getting picked up. Instead of that idle time just sitting in the staging area, you’re actually reducing that pickup time by heading toward the passenger before the request has even been made.

And also with Uber, they have the Re-Match feature, where again, after you’re dropping a passenger off at the airport, you may get a request right away after dropping a passenger off, essentially skipping the queue.

Following airport rules is key! Avoid fines

You want to make sure that you’re conducting yourself properly at the airport. Again, make sure your permit is displayed properly, all your trade dresses displayed properly, you’re not waiting on airport grounds, you’re not picking up in the wrong spot. You have to be waiting in the staging area. You’re not picking up passengers at the wrong location, picking them up on the curb where you shouldn’t be. You could possibly face major fines if you do some of these things.

Requests coming from the airport can be really profitable rides. But they can also come at the cost of needing to wait in that airport queue for a long time. Often, you may even be leapfrogged in that queue. It’s totally dependent on your situation, whether you want to wait in that queue for an extended period of time or you just want to stay busy. If you’re trying to qualify for bonuses, you may just want to get more rides as opposed to waiting for one long ride.

Let us know in the comments your experience at airport queues. Do you wait in airport queues? Do you skip them? What types of rides have you gotten from the airport? If you haven’t subscribed to The Rideshare Guy on Youtube, please subscribe. Thanks again for watching and drive safe.


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