News outlets are reporting that the Nashville International Airport (BNA) is apparently becoming the first to officially allow rideshare programs such as Uber and Lyft to pick up passengers on-site in a designated areas of the airport, so long as Uber and Lyft are approved for a paid permit.

So what’s the compromise that kept taxi drivers “happy”? Ride-sharing service pickups must pay an additional $3.50 “airport fee” that must be tracked via the service’s GPS tracking. We can assume this cost will be passed along to the customer rider. Whereas taxis pay only a similar $1.50 fee. There is no additional fee for dropping off a passenger.

This seems like a more realistic approach and consistent with the national trend of local regulations trying to keep up (or catch up, if you will) with the evolving, very popular services.

BNA is reported as the first for allowing the entire fleet of Uber vehicles such as UberX and UberXL. However, even though some airports such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Memphis and Raleigh-Durham have an express ban (and will issue violations), using Uber may still be doable in a couple ways.

1. Go Pro
Sometimes an airport will allow a commercial Uber vehicle to pick up passengers if it has the proper tags/permit. For example, at Raleigh-Durham (RDU), you may be able to get an Uber Black or SUV which is allowed on airport grounds to pick up passengers IF it is displaying a proper permit ($125 fee + $25 transponder). BUT that’s not all! The driver must pick up the passengers in the designated area, or still be subject to a violation. (See map on p.4)

I witnessed this mistake firsthand when we had a party of 4+baggage get picked up in the wrong zone even though he had a proper permit sticker on the back of his SUV. He got a ticket (which Uber has publicly said they pay for drivers). He said he was not aware of such a zone rule and he didn’t mention anything to me when I talked to him on the phone post-app-activation.

So, Uber has already been “cleared for landing” at RDU, just with a lot of hurdles for which the common part-time Uber driver is not going to equipped.

2. Go Sly
While some banned airports do not allow for pick up and the app does not allow you to mark your pick up in such an area, a customer does have the ability to mark the pick up location outside of the restricted area nearby, then contact the driver for a covert pick up at a specific airport location. (Here is an example.) I do not endorse this method. And I would certainly feel bad if a driver got caught.

This is an example of the types of silly workarounds that customers must finagle that I’m guessing the Nashville Airport is trying to avoid, i.e. the customers and drivers are going to find a way, so let’s be realistic about it, and properly permit them and tack on a surcharge. This, I can support!

The Plug
I invite you to get $30 off your first Uber ride here or with my code: uberpalmerlaw
This $30 referral credit gets both the person being referred and the person referring a $30 credit = more than enough for a free ride in many markets, and in many cases enough for multiple free rides!


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