A workaround for Uber airport pickup

by Anshul
a hand holding a phone

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Uber currently operates in 479 cities around the world and 208 of these are in North America. While Uber offers airport drop offs in majority of these cities, Uber airport pickup option is available only in ~85 of 208 North American cities.

Airports restrict ride-sharing services like Uber from operating within its jurisdiction since they do not have a service contract and don’t pay the airport charges, as taxis do. Airport charges vary from city to city and can be a hefty fee that is passed down to the customer. Some airports allow UberBLACK and UberSUV service to pickup, however these are more expensive than the standard UberX service to begin with. Uber airport pickup requirements can vary by airport, and some airports do not allow pickup or drop off by any vehicle class.  For example, in Canada, Calgary (YYC) allows both pickup and drop off at airport whereas Edmonton (YEG) allows neither!

Ottawa, Ontario (YOW, my home airport) is one of the cities that does not offer Uber airport pickup, where passengers are expected to gulp the higher taxi rates. For me, airport to home on regular city taxi is $20-$22 while on Uber it is $10-$11. I find it hard to justify spending double the amount for the numerous trips I make in a year.

Workaround for Airport Pickup

Once I open the Uber app and see the official message about no pickups, I proceed to the map and move my location pin slightly outside the airport. This triggers the service since I am technically “outside” the restrictive zone.

Uber pickup not available notification

Uber pickup not available notification


Now, you are good to go :)

Now, you are good to go 🙂

Once the driver confirms pickup, I call using the ‘Contact’ feature in app and mention that I am inside the airport and would like a pickup. Most drivers are more than happy to confirm location and pickup without fuss. Although I haven’t had a driver refuse service yet, know that they are within reason to decline and I would have to cancel the trip. I call the driver as soon as they confirm pickup, so if I have to cancel the trip, its within 5 minutes to avoid cancelation fee (usually $5).

Take Away

I have used this workaround across several cities in north america and saved hundreds of dollars in the process. While I don’t want to get into the Uber vs Taxi debate, I whole heartedly support the right to save my hard earned money.
If you haven’t used Uber yet, here’s my referral code that will give you (and me) $15 towards the first ride.

Have you used this workaround or had issues doing the same? Please leave a comment below. 


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