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8 Things to Know About Using Uber in Las Vegas

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Late last year, Uber launched service in Las Vegas, and as of December you can even get picked up at the airport, avoiding the sometimes hours-long wait for taxicabs. But like most things in Vegas, Uber isn’t quite what you’re used to — there are a lot of peculiarities to keep in mind. Let’s dig in, and if you don’t have an Uber account, you can sign up now to receive a free ride (up to $20) from TPG.

1. Uber still can’t pick up at the airport terminal

The "Uber" parking garage.
The “Uber” parking garage.

At your home airport, it’s likely that Uber can roll up to the terminal to pick you up. That’s simply not the case at McCarran. Regardless of whether you’re arriving at Terminal 1 (Southwest) or Terminal 3 (most other airlines), you’ll need to head over to a parking garage to get your Uber. It’s pretty annoying, but here’s a handy map from LAS to show you where you’ll need to go:

ridesharemap675x350

For Terminal 1, you’ll find your car at level 2M, while you’ll need to head to level V (that’s V for Valet, not V for the 5th floor). Budget five or so minutes to get to your Uber, and keep an eye out for a crosswalk to avoid walking in front of traffic and carrying your bags over a bunch of rocks, as I opted to do for my first LAS pickup.

2. It’s far, far cheaper than taking a taxi

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Uber has three options in Las Vegas.

People complain about taxis everywhere in the world, but there’s no question that Vegas taxicabs are especially… special. They’re also outrageously expensive, since many passengers opt to take a cab from one casino to another just across the street. With UberX, however, you can get anywhere on the strip for less than $10, and you can even get to downtown Vegas for about 15 bucks, which is less than half the price you can expect to pay in a cab.

3. Surge pricing is very much a thing

uber surge pricing vegas
You’ll often run into surge pricing.

At some hotels, surge pricing tends to be the norm throughout the day and night. That said, since fares are already so low, a 1.5x surge isn’t going to break the bank. If you’re firmly against paying surge pricing, Uber in Vegas may not be for you, but if you don’t mind handing your friendly driver another buck or two, it’s really not a big deal (most of the time).

4. Most hotels have a dedicated Uber/Lyft area

vdara review
The pick-up/drop-off area at Vdara.

Just as hotels have dedicated taxi stands, they also have an area set aside for Uber and Lyft. At some properties that might mean a bit of a walk, but these parking areas are typically fairly convenient, and drivers seem willing to drop you off anywhere you’d like.

5. Wait time estimates are outrageously inaccurate

A 3-minute wait? Not a chance!
A 3-minute wait? Not a chance!

Does the Uber app say your driver will arrive in 3 minutes? It might be more like 15. Vegas traffic can be absolutely nuts, especially later at night, and your driver might not be able to turn where Uber expects them to. Also, there could be many vehicles waiting to enter a hotel driveway, and if Uber drivers are required to pick up at a specific location, the app is unlikely to account for that as well. Be sure to request a ride a few extra minutes early, but if your driver does make it there on time, you’ll need to be prepared to hop in the car right away.

6. Anyone can drive for UberX — with any vehicle

You might get a BMW — but you probably won't.
You might get a BMW — but you probably won’t.

During our Vegas Uncork’d weekend, our UberX cars ranged from a Toyota Corolla to a big pick-up truck (that still had plenty of room for three riders). Unlike in New York City, where cars are licensed and aren’t necessarily owned by the driver, anyone can drive for Uber and Lyft in Vegas.

7. You can get dropped off at airport check-in

Getting dropped off right in front of United check-in.
Getting dropped off right in front of United check-in.

At the end of your Vegas adventure, you can ask your Uber driver to drop you off right at airport check-in — so you’ll only need to haul your bags to the parking garage upon arrival, not departure as well.

8. Lyft is also an option

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Some Uber fanatics tend to forget about other rideshare services, but Lyft is quite popular in Vegas as well. Lyft has its own version of surge pricing, but if your estimated Uber fare jumps too high, you can head over to its competitor, instead. The competition helps keep pricing down, and while it seems that most drivers use both services, it doesn’t hurt to have options.

Have you used Uber in Las Vegas?

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