You could now wait over an hour for an Uber at LAX — here’s how I avoided the headache

Nov 5, 2019

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In case you haven’t heard, pick-ups at Los Angeles International (LAX) are an absolute disaster.

On Oct. 29, the airport moved all ride-hailing pick-ups to the new “LAX-it” lot, a dedicated pickup space adjacent to Terminal 1 at the airport. Regardless of your arrival terminal, you now have to take a bus (or walk) to this lot if you want to use Uber or Lyft. While it’s viewed as a temporary move until LAX’s new Automated People Mover, including a new transportation center east of the terminals, opens in 2023, the airport hopes the move will combat worsening congestion. The thing is, though, it’s done exactly the opposite.

And over the past few days, we’ve heard reports that things have gone from bad to worse, with some passengers reportedly waiting for more than an hour for their rides.

Traffic in Los Angeles is already no joke, and we know the last thing you want to do after a long flight is waste even more time waiting for your ride. If you’re like me, you have food to eat (hello, Jon & Vinny’s!), places to shop and celebrities to find (hello, Chrissy!).

But when I was in the City of Angels for a quick trip over the weekend, I was able to completely avoid the madness with a little something called GroundLink.

GroundLink, if you’re not familiar, is an on-demand black car service that has a website and an app. I ordered my car two days in advance, and I could choose from a standard car to an SUV and everything in between.

I just needed a quick ride from the airport, so I opted for the most basic available service — and they even recorded my flight number so they could adjust my pickup time accordingly. When you book, you can also build in a buffer if you need more time after you land to, say, grab your bag at baggage claim.

Unlike Uber or Lyft, the black car service is still permitted to pick passengers up from any terminal at the curb. I simply walked out of the terminal, told my driver where I was standing and he was there about 10 minutes later. While you’ll definitely have to pay a premium — the 15-minute drive from LAX to my hotel, the Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport, cost $70 — you can’t put a price on the value of your time (or getting to skip the bus). As an added bonus, my driver had water and phone chargers waiting for me.

But you can even replicate the experience with Uber for a fraction of the price if you order an Uber Black or Uber Black SUV. The same ride to the Hyatt Regency would have cost $26.08 or $35.01, respectively. (Sounds to me like a great time to put your credits from The Platinum Card® from American Express to good use.) As good as my experience with GroundLink was, for what it’s worth, I would recommend grabbing an Uber Black instead. It’s half the price of GroundLink, and you’ll get more or less the same experience. Again, these services are still allowed to pick you up at the curb, no matter the terminal.

(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)
(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

It’s not all bad news, either. Uber drop-offs (and those from any other ride-hailing service) are smooth-sailing and not affected by the new policy. Sure, you’ll have to deal with the usual airport congestion you’ll find in virtually any airport, ever, but it shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes.

Word to the wise: Pay the premium to save yourself some time — and a headache. And no matter what type of service you use, be sure to charge it to a credit card that earns bonus points on travel, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x).

If all else fails, you might just find it’s faster to walk to your airport hotel.

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