How reliable is Uber?

My GF and I are headed out of town next month. There are various car services that would take us from our home, about 40 miles west of Boston, to Logan Airport. Prices seem to be about $140 each way.

Meanwhile, it seems Uber would cost about half that much. Having never Uber’d, we are wondering how reliable they are at showing up and getting you to where you’re going in time to catch a flight. Also, our return flight gets in at midnight, would it be harder to get an Uber at that hour?

Thanks for your input.

You might also look at Lyft (my only affiliation is as a customer). Tougher background checks on the drivers and in my experience much more reasonable pricing.

The advantage of the car service is the price they quote now is what you’ll pay (plus tip, of course). I think Uber does surge pricing, so depending on what’s going on, the price may be different at the actual time you need the ride.

Really depends where you are. In a major city like Boston it shouldn’t be a problem. As for timing and reliability, just add about 20-30 minutes to whenever you would leave if you were driving.

Returning, you could try to schedule a ride. However a lot of drivers will probably balk at that distance, especially that time of night.

I am not sure but 40 miles is pretty far for a taxi. Often taxis (and things like them) charge a deadhead fee. Basically, you are not only paying to get to the airport but also paying for them to drive back to homebase.

Some places (like Chicago O’Hare) have regulations about this and specify where such extra fees can be charged. No idea about Logan Airport but may be something you want to look into so you do not get ripped off (also not sure if it applies to things like Uber…may only be taxis).

Is there any mass transit you can access that gets you closer? Such as taking a train into the city and then taking a taxi from there? More of a hassle but may save you a lot of money.

Also, check if nearby hotels have a shuttle. You may be able to use them for a reasonable fee.

Uber is fine but as others have noted prices can fluctuate and you may not find one available when you need one. Especially if you live in a rural area.

I was a very regular user of Uber when I was traveling for business (retired now). I lived in a major urban area, and travel to/from major airports are relatively reliable. In my experience, I would only order the Uber when I was already standing on the curb ready to go. Because of where I lived, I would usually get picked up within 5 minutes. As for arriving at the airport, some people try to order their ride while the plane is taxiing to the gate, in order to get into the queue. The risk with this is that the driver may be available NOW and won’t wait for 20 minutes for you to get off the plane and through the airport.

The vast majority of my rides were great, but there are definitely potential drawbacks:

  • Getting an Uber at an airport can be unreliable, depending on the time and volume of riders. I would sometimes have to wait a long time, with many other folks, until a driver became available. This is not fun at the late night end of a long travel day.
  • Some markets I was flying into were just too small to support Uber. Sure, the service was available…maybe if one of the 3 drivers in the area was working.
  • The pricing can be all over the map, due to availability.
  • Back in the early days, there were problems with drivers being selective about what routes they would accept. So, at the airport, you would request a ride, the driver would not know your destination (the system is designed that way), the driver would accept the trip and then call me and ask the destination, I would tell them and if they didn’t want to travel in that direction they would cancel the trip! Which put me back at the start of the queue again. Shitty behavior. I got wise and would not tell them when they called, but they would cancel anyway. Uber seems to have gotten this problem fixed?

I’m sure the Boston/Logan market for Uber/Lyft is very well established. For your return flight you might experience waiting due to high volume even at midnight.

It could go either way, many of my drivers liked the night time airport longer routes. Because it would beat short hops to local hotels and then re-entering the driver queue. Also, a lot of night drivers want to avoid the bar crowd.

It seems the ride is originating 40 miles away and not at Logan. I think that changes things.

There was a thread here a couple of weeks ago, in which there was a discussion around being able to make a reservation for a future trip on Uber, and it seemed to boil down to, “they offer it, but it’s not well-supported, and drivers don’t like it.”

My suspicion would be that a trip from Logan at midnight wouldn’t be difficult to get on Uber, even without a reservation. I’ve gotten into Chicago O’Hare late at night (granted, this was pre-pandemic), and had no problem getting an Uber ride.

Maybe- the last time I needed a car service, I arranged for the pick-up a couple of days before. They quoted a price at that time. When the day arrived , it was snowing. The car service called about 3 hours before pickup to see if I still needed the car and raised the price $20 or $30 ( while claiming that the original price had been a mistake) After multiple calls from them telling me they had not yet found a driver, I decided to go with Uber and was picked up inside of 10 minutes-and the price was the original one quoted by the car service

The OP asked about rides both ways; the ride to the airport is, indeed, 40 miles away, but they also asked about getting an Uber upon returning to Logan (end of the second paragraph).

Could be. I used to be ~40 miles from my airport (LAX), but it was all city so it didn’t make it difficult. I am not intimately familiar with Logan, or the surrounding area (or where the OP is), so it could be all a regular route or way out in the sticks.

For your trip to the airport, you can test the availability of drivers. Just open the app on the same day of week and time you want to leave for your flight and it will show how many cars are in your area and the estimated time to come to you. It’s not perfect, but if you do it and see that the nearest car is 45 minutes away, you’ll know to adjust.

Uber denies it, but some people suspect a lot of the vehicles shown on their app are fake, to make it look like there’s a lot of drivers nearby. Anecdotally, I suspect they’re right, but I can’t prove it.

Yes, if you see that cars are consistantly more than 15 to 20 minutes away its a pretty good bet that they will not drive there to pick you up. Unless they know you are going to the airport, which is a money ride for them because then they get to go to the airport and potentially pick up a good ride.

Problem is you cannot easily tell them you are going to the airport. This may be a case where making a reservation two hours in advance may work. May work.

You should understand the basic model for Uber, Lyft, etc. their drivers are not employees and the decide when and where they want to work. Uber incentivises them to sign on to work when there is high demand and a low supply of drivers available by increasing the fare. Depending on the time and place it’s possible that no drivers might be available or willing to serve you. That being said I would be surprised if you couldn’t get a ride from a major airport.

I travel quite a bit for work and live like 40+ miles from the airport and use Uber/Lift. Its very reliable and here are some tips that will help you better. Early 2022, when there were car shortages, Uber and Lift were both iffy but now they are really good. Here are some tips :

  1. Some Ubers do not have enough space for storing baggage. 2 checkin bags between you and your girlfriend should be okay. But if you travel heavy, upsize your uber.
  2. Lyft and Uber are almost the same for major cities.
  3. For the Home to Airport Trip, schedule the trip 12-24 hour before. I’ve found this to work best in terms of good drivers and on-time showup. Also mark the gate (airline that you are flying) to get to the correct gate. It will show up as an option on the menu.
  4. For the Airport to Home Uber trip, before you order your Uber - make sure you understand the pickup point. You will have to look around the baggage claim but there are signs pointing to Ride Share (Uber/Lift) pickup points. Order your Uber once you have spotted the pickup point. Scroll though pickup points to make sure you picked the right one.

And happy travels to you and your GF

Thank you!

Even though it costs twice as much, I think I’m leaning towards the local, reliable car service. Because a) we’d hate to miss our flight to New Orleans; and b) we’d hate just as much being stuck at Logan Airport in the wee small hours of the morning.

I’ve never had that issue. If anything, it seems to be too accurate when nobody is actually around to pick me up (usually when I arrive at Midway Airport at 1 a.m.).

My dad’s friend owned a limo company whose bread and butter was trips from the far-off suburbs to Logan Airport. Uber basically killed their entire business. His pricing was based on driving people to the airport and deadheading back or deadheading to the airport to pick up arriving passengers. In short, his cars were empty almost half the time and so the pricing was generally at least twice what Uber was charging. The limo also charged a waiting time if flights were delayed unexpectedly. If they were delayed enough, there wouldn’t be a car available at all because the driver might have had to go to his next gig.

Uber recruits drivers more cheaply. Uber does a better job minimizing unoccupied cars and so drivers are willing to get paid only when their are passengers because they will usually have a passenger. Uber probably has hundreds of times more drivers available than any limo service. Their technology makes it easy to shift drivers to the passengers who are at the airport now needing a car. Uber isn’t less reliable than a car service - it’s way more reliable. And it’s cheaper. Take an Uber (or Lyft - basically the same deal).