LAX is one of the busiest airports in the world, and anyone who’s passed through its terminals understands that waiting is a big part of your LAX adventure. But yesterday lines and delays were especially nightmarish for travelers using ride-sharing services as the airport officially started a new program requiring Uber and Lyft drivers to pick up passengers away from the terminals and the transition went less than smoothly.
Earlier this month, Los Angeles International Airport announced that ride sharing vehicles were no longer allowed to pick up passengers outside of LAX’s arrivals or departures terminals. Instead, friendless and familyless travelers hoping to avoid taxis would either have to hop a shuttle bus, which airport officials claimed would run every three to five minutes, or walk about 18 minutes to the new LAX-it lot next to Terminal 1, where their rideshare would be waiting. But coming as no surprise to anyone who’s ever passed through a busy airport, the new system didn’t work anywhere near as efficiently as it was purported to.
On Tuesday, far from the busiest day of the week for any airport, travelers turned to social media to share videos and images of the long lines and even longer wait times they had to endure to connect with the rideshare vehicles they had requested through the Uber and Lyft apps.
In addition to a lack of signage directing travelers to where they’d be able to meet their rides, the promised shuttle buses, which some reported were not equipped to deal with large pieces of luggage, were packed with passengers and drivers refused to let people stand during the short trip to maximize the bus’ capacity. As a result, getting to the LAX-it lot was just the first act of a long nightmare for hundreds of passengers.
The delays and bottlenecks were even worse at the actual LAX-it lot, where travelers were forced to endure even longer lines. Some drivers alerted passengers that it would take upwards of 90 minutes to make their way through the traffic and gridlock leading to the lot and get close enough to actually make a pickup.
Aside from grabbing a regular taxi, or just hoofing it, some travelers found that the only way to expedite the process was to opt for a shared ride, where multiple passengers share the cost of a single vehicle, but even that approach still resulted in hour-long waits to escape LAX. The airport’s attempts to alleviate the traffic nightmares and confusion outside terminals seemingly worked, but in reality, it just shifted all of the headaches to another location. And the nightmarish experiences shared on social media are only going to get worse going into the weekend, and eventually the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas in the coming months.