4 Reasons To Skip Rideshare and Use Car Service at LAX

When it comes to major American airports, Los Angeles International (LAX) usually makes it onto “world's worst airports” listicles, and for a good reason. With a cluster of terminals serving over 60 million passengers annually, there's little doubt that flying into or from America's second-largest city will be stressful.

To make matters worse, Los Angeles area travelers have little choice if they need to fly. Many airlines originate a majority of their routes from LAX, particularly for international and long-distance flights. Smaller airports like Burbank and Long Beach primarily host regional routes throughout the west. Hence, if you are visiting Los Angeles from afar or plan to relocate there, you will inevitably deal with LAX. Here's why you should consider using a car service at LAX, even if Uber of Lyft might seem like the cheapest, easiest option at first. 

Read on.

Why Is LAX Frequently Named One of The World's Worst Airports?

Ultimately, what makes LAX so universally loathed is its complete lack of easy movement between terminals, and the airport itself is isolated from the rest of the city. While most metropolitan regions require major international airports to be relatively remote, LAX is incredibly far-flung from the city center relative to major airports of comparatively large cities.

Bounded by three freeways, the Pacific Ocean and Marina del Rey, LAX does not have its own rail system. In contrast, the AirTrain at SFO International Airport in San Francisco enables travelers to easily move between terminals and parking lots and connect to BART trains into the city. 

LA Metro has a people-mover project in the works at LAX to address this. There is a capital plan to eventually connect it to the new Crenshaw Line upon its extension. Until the capital plan becomes a reality however, LAX is wholly disconnected from public transit. The green C Line has a station for LAX, but it does not go directly inside the airport like Chicago's blue line at O'Hare. The Aviation-LAX C Line station connects to the airport by shuttle bus.

LA Metro is a small and sparse subway system requiring several bus and subway transfers from the city center to the Aviation-LAX station. It's no surprise that driving is preferred to reach and depart LAX. Non-drivers and travelers who don't want to spend $60 per night to park their car at LAX must use a taxi, airport ride service, or rideshare if they don't have someone to pick them up or drop them off.

1. Avoiding The Misery That Is The Lax-it Lot.

Suppose you're traveling to Los Angeles for the first time or planning on moving to the area and frequently rely on rideshare for your airport rides. In that case, LAX is an airport where you drastically need to reconsider.

As you can surmise, you must ride a shuttle bus to reach one of the most dystopian experiences ever invented for last-mile travel: the Lax-It Lot. The Lax-it shuttle has an erratic and unpredictable schedule. Unfortunately, it's the only way to reach the Lax-It Lot and find the correct zone for your Uber, Lyft, or taxi.

Because the Lax-it shuttle frequently doesn't show up at terminals when the shuttle tracker app says it should arrive, crowds swell at terminal curbsides. Then the Lax-it shuttles drive right past them despite carrying zero passengers.

Numerous travelers push and shove like they're at a Black Friday sale to get a coveted place on that shuttle when it finally stops for them. Irate airport employees arbitrarily decide who has to wait for the next shuttle, which shows up if and when it pleases. Chances are that when the Lax-it shuttle finally arrives at your terminal, it will quickly jam-pack no matter the time of day.

Should you make it onto the Lax-it shuttle, a swerve-ridden ride awaits where you must hold onto your luggage since the racks never have enough room. Upon depositing you into the Lax-it Lot, you now must arrange your rideshare or wait in line for a taxi amid the swarms of travelers trying to hail a ride simultaneously.

With such a large daily passenger volume and not nearly enough rideshare drivers to take LAX arrivals to their destinations, 15-30 minute waits and numerous pings to new drivers are incredibly common in the Lax-it Lot.

After it took the author of this article longer to get home from LAX than the literal length of her flight because of this utterly Kafkaesque design, it prompted looking into airport-specific private cars.

2. Car Service at LAX Providers Predate Rideshare Apps and They Know What They're Doing

Airport ride services existed for decades before the advent of Uber and similar apps. Unlike taxis, these car services specifically focus on airport departures and arrivals. Regional providers also may serve a larger area than typically seen in rideshare. However, like many services that faced competition from apps offering a cheaper alternative on demand, they took a beating when Uber hit the market.

But as riders have experienced frustrations with rideshare apps with respect to safety, timeliness, and reaching the correct destination, so have drivers. Concerns about driver safety have caused drivers and riders alike to reconsider standard taxis, plus alternative apps such as Alto in southern California and Co-Op Ride in New York City.

Airport-specific car services might not be as in vogue as swapping out Instartcart for native grocery store apps, as declining service quality and concerns about the treatment and pay of workers have caused some apps to slowly bleed customers. But you should absolutely hire one if you are flying into LAX and need a ride.

3. Car Service at LAX Offers Personalized Attention

When it comes to airport rides, you'll usually know when and where you will deplane. Since you need to provide your airline and flight number when you book, the driver will likely know that your flight was delayed or you're flying into a different terminal.

Additionally, because airport ride services focus on serving a variety of travelers, they can more easily accommodate the needs of families, disabled travelers, and other customers who frequently have issues with rideshare. Many carriers have larger vehicles, infant car seats, and wheelchair-accessible vehicles that can be requested in advance.

But do private car services cost more than rideshare when it comes to escaping the labyrinthine mess of shuttle buses that is LAX? Just like with rideshare, price points will vary in real time depending on passenger request volume.

4. Car Service at LAX vs. Rideshare: Time Is Money

Upon punching in Union Station's address to get an estimate for a private economy ride (up to three passengers) from LAX to the city center, GO Airport Rides gave an estimate of about $81 for base fare, taxes and fees, and the tip was automatically included.

Upon checking Lyft in real time for a 9PM arrival at LAX, they estimated $30-35. However, this estimate doesn't include taxes, driver benefits fee, tip, and the inevitable surge charges when hundreds of angry and tired travelers show up at the Lax-It Lot en masse and then all try to leave simultaneously. You are also often forced to pay a “priority pickup” surcharge if you just want to escape that horrible place already. The author's last airport Lyft cost $90 after taxes and tip, which is almost $10 more than the quote for a dedicated car service with a professional driver who meets you at the terminal instead of having to wait the equivalent of a short-haul flight just to reach the desolate Lax-It Lot. 

While rideshare might be a viable option for going to LAX, it's a more stressful gamble going from the airport to your destination. Having an airport ride waiting for you at your terminal is better than the agonizing trek to the Lax-It Lot. Moreover, the drivers are usually employees who are paid and treated better than rideshare drivers, and it shows in how they treat you.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.