Lyft, Uber going live at airports nationwide—for a fee

Reagan National and Dulles International join growing list of ride-hailing-friendly airports

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
November 3, 2015
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Airports, formerly one of the few remaining bastions for taxi services to operate freely without competition, appear to finally be leaning toward common sense (and citywide consistency) by opening the doors to ride-hailing companies.

Effective this month, services including Lyft and Uber will be permitted to operate at Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Reagan National Airport (DCA), two of the largest airports in the Washington area.

After officially adopting new regulations in September, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has now gone forward with the changes, including a requirement that companies apply for permits to operate at the airport as well as the creation of a designated waiting area for these vehicles to pick up and drop off passengers.

“For passengers at Reagan National and Dulles International, this change means they will see a broader variety of ground transportation options quickly and readily available,” said Airports Authority Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Margaret McKeough.

Over the past couple years, Lyft and Uber have had to fight hard for access to airports, clearly a market crucial to the success of their businesses.

Just last week, Lyft became the first ride-hailing service to operate legally at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, though Uber will likely be right behind them. As in Washington, Lyft and Uber are allowed to operate as long as they've applied for the proper licenses, pay a license fee, and tack on an additional $2.45 fare for every passenger.

Similarly, Chicago just passed new regulations—set to take effect in 10 days—that would allow apps like Lyft and Uber to operate at both O’Hare International and Midway International.

The services have had a harder time acquiring permission to operate at Orlando International Airport, which just recently said it would be open to Uber Black as long as certain agreements are met. The problem with the lower-cost options offered by Lyft and Uber, which are still barred from the airport, is that they don't meet Orlando's requirements for background checks and other safety standards.

For those curious, here’s an extensive list of U.S. airports where Lyft operates today:

  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
  • Burbank Bob Hope Airport (BUR)
  • Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS)
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
  • Dallas Love Field (DAL)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  • Memphis International Airport (MEM)
  • Nashville International Airport (BNA)
  • Oakland International Airport (OAK)
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
  • Portland International Airport (PDX)
  • Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA)
  • San Diego International Airport (SAN)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Santa Ana John Wayne Airport (SNA)
  • Santa Barbara Airport (SBA)
  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

While it’s likely that Uber serves the same airports, I have reached out to confirm this and will update this piece when I hear back.

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