MSN has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. MSN and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.

Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft have been helping customers get to and from the airport for years. However, they’re constantly fine-tuning their offerings to better serve travelers.

Because no two travelers or trips are exactly alike, they’ve added a variety of new features to make your trip to or from the airport faster, easier and more comfortable no matter who you are traveling with or where you are headed. Also, airports have adjusted where and how travelers are picked up by ride-hailing services with the increased demand for that type of transportation.

Before your next trip, here are five things you should know before landing in an unfamiliar city and catching a ride from the airport.

Related: These are the best credit cards for Uber and Lyft

Preorder airport rides when you land with Lyft

At some airports, the pickup area for ride-hailing services may be right outside of the baggage claim area. At others, you may have a long walk or shuttle ride before getting into your ride. If you book your ride too early and don’t get to the pickup area before your ride arrives, you may have to pay cancellation or wait-time fees. Knowing exactly when to reserve your ride can be tricky, but Lyft now makes it easier.

At select airports, including Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Midway International Airport (MDW), customers can now preorder a ride as soon as their flight lands and be matched with a driver as they get closer to the pickup area. You can even note whether or not you have checked bags to collect, and Lyft will factor that into your pickup time.

The service is coming soon to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). It will then continue to roll out to major airports across the country, so look for that feature to expand in the future.

Schedule a ride from the airport in advance with Uber

Rather than a “reserve when you land” function, Uber offers riders the opportunity to request a ride up to 90 days in advance with Uber Reserve. Travelers can use Uber Reserve to schedule advance rides at more than 50 major U.S. airports and select international airports in Europe and Africa.

To use the feature, hit the “Reserve” icon in the Uber app and choose the date and time of your ride. Your driver will wait at the pickup spot for up to 15 minutes (it varies per ride) after your scheduled arrival time. If your plans change, you can cancel your ride at no charge up to 60 minutes before your scheduled pickup time.

There is also an option to match you with a new driver if your flight is delayed and you land outside of your designated pickup window.

Families can request a ride with a car seat

If you are traveling with a child, Uber and Lyft both have features to help you get where you are going safely.

Lyft has an option called “Car seat mode” that matches riders with drivers who already have a car seat installed in their car. According to the Lyft website, drivers have forward-facing Immi Go car seats, which are designed for children ages 3 and up who are from 31 inches to 52 inches tall and weigh between 22 and 48 pounds.

Related: 8 top car seats for travel

If this option is available in your city, you will see “car seat” as a ride type when reserving your ride. There’s a $10 fee in addition to the regular ride fare.

Similarly, Uber is currently rolling out its Uber Car Seat service in New York City and Los Angeles. If the option is available when you request your ride, you can reserve a car with a Nuna Rava car seat installed, which is suitable for babies or children weighing between 5 and 65 pounds.

When you reserve a ride matters

As mentioned above, you could face hefty cancellation or wait-time fees if you aren’t at the airport pickup area at the scheduled time. For example, at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), once you land, you have to take the LAXit shuttle to a designated lot (unless you pony up for curbside pickup with Uber Black, that is). If you book your ride as you are taxiing down the runway after landing, you are almost certain to miss your pickup time.

A better option is to check the airport’s website or your chosen ride-hailing app for instructions before you reserve a ride. In looking up online instructions for using Uber at Midway Airport, it directs you to a website with exact directions on where to exit the airport and where to meet your driver.

In short, timing matters. Don’t reserve a ride with a driver who is six minutes away if you aren’t six minutes away from the designated pickup area.

Alternatives to Lyft and Uber from the airport

While Uber and Lyft are by far the most popular ride-hailing services in today’s digital world, they aren’t the only options out there to get a ride from the airport to wherever you are going. If you are looking for something a little more upscale, give Blacklane a try.

Blacklane offers a variety of services, one of which is airport transfers. With Blacklane, you can reserve your airport pickup in advance, and your chauffeur will pick you up in a luxury car to get you where you need to go. The big difference between Blacklane and other ride-hailing services is that your chauffeur will go the extra mile to track your flight for delays and adjust the pickup time for you.

There are also new ride-hailing startups like the bright blue Tesla cars operated by Revel, which are now doing pickups at New York-area airports.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are many times when a good old-fashioned yellow taxi is the easiest way to get from the airport to your destination. The taxi pickup area is sometimes closer than the ride-hailing pickup area, and you don’t have to play the game of timing it right, hoping the driver doesn’t cancel, etc. Instead, you just get in the cab and go, which certainly has its advantages.

Most airports have designated waiting areas for taxis, with plenty of yellow cabs lined up and waiting to whisk you away. Your wait time is often determined by the number of other travelers also waiting for a taxi cab. Increasingly, most cabs also accept credit cards, which helps if you aren’t a big cash-carrying traveler.

It’s important that you go to the designated area for taxis if you want one, as unauthorized drivers will often hover near the airport exit (or even inside baggage claim), offering to give you a ride. These drivers are not licensed through the city, and not only will they possibly overcharge you, but you also have no guarantee that they are safe drivers or properly insured, so we recommend steering clear of that option.

And, of course, in some cities, trains or subways can be the most convenient (and affordable) way to get from the airport into the city.

Bottom line

Getting from the airport to your destination keeps getting easier as ride-hailing apps improve their offerings. To make the most of these features, familiarize yourself ahead of time so your travel day goes off without a hitch.

Related reading:

SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free. 

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

2023-06-06T13:01:40Z dg43tfdfdgfd