Starting this month, a number of Los Angeles residents might be asking their friends an intimate question: Can you pick me up from the airport?
Starting at the end of October, instead of hailing rides curbside right at the airport, passengers flying into L.A. and using taxi or rideshare apps will be required to take shuttles to designated holding lots to connect with drivers. Drop-offs will still be permitted on the airport's upper deck.
According to an LAX release, shared by public information officer Olga Gallardo with USA TODAY on Friday morning, the new policy will be enacted "around Halloween" and "reimagine the pick-up process for taxis, Uber, Lyft and Opoli with additional amenities like food trucks, WiFi and cell phone charging."
Keith Wilschetz, the deputy executive director for operations and emergency management for Los Angeles World Airports, told The Los Angeles Times that shuttles will run every five minutes and that the ride shouldn't take longer than 15 minutes. He also noted the distance to the pickup lot will be walkable, estimating it would take about 18 minutes to get there on foot from Terminal 4, the furthest from the lot.
LAX, singled out by Fodor's Travel as the worst airport in the U.S. in 2019, is plagued by congestion issues that have gotten worse this year as the airport undergoes a modernization construction project before the city hosts the 2028 Summer Olympics.
Passenger traffic to LAX has also increased substantially over the last decade, rising from 59 million in 2010 to 87.5 million in 2018. With so many more people traveling through the airport, it can take 45 minutes to get from the main entrance to the terminal at peak times, travel industry site Skift reported.
According to the LAX release, the airport's new policy is meant to "enhance and improve the taxi and ride app pick-up experience at LAX as the airport enters a major phase of construction within the Central Terminal Area," but it could also present new problems surrounding regulation, shuttle lines, luggage handling and wait times.
And it could force some major friendly favors.