July 7, 2017

Uber in Las Vegas: What You Must Know

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Good news! Taxis aren't the only way around Vegas any more. Ridesharing services, like Uber, have taken over. You have more (and possibly cheaper) options now!

The Uber app works just like it does anywhere else. But Uber drivers must operate under different rules in Vegas.

Read on - you might be surprised to learn the quirks in this entertainment district.

Uber Las Vegas Airport

Riders rejoiced when the city allowed Uber at the airport. Uber operated in Vegas for at least a month before the county allowed airport pick-ups/drop-offs.

Today, you can take an Uber both to and from the airport. But there's an automatic surcharge for the service. It's usually a couple of bucks.

Keep reading; there are also some pretty specific regulations you should know:

Pick-ups

  • Pick-ups must occur at a specific location. Don't expect a pick-up at the curb like taxis. McCarran Airport restricts pick-ups to a certain area based on your terminal. Terminal 1 passengers get their ride on Level 2M of the Terminal 1 parking garage. Terminal 3 passengers get their ride on the Valet level of Terminal 3 parking.

  • Uber drivers can't solicit new riders like taxi drivers. You must request the ride via the Uber app first.

  • You should wait until you are heading outside to request an Uber. They sit in a staging lot waiting for the request. You'll usually have a ride within 5 minutes. They can't wait for you, so don't request it too early.

Drop-offs

  • Drop-offs are easier than pick-ups. Uber drivers can drop you off right at the curb. Maybe you'll have more time for gambling and less time running for your flight?

  • Allow enough time to fight traffic to the airport. Domestic flights require check-in at least 2 hours before your flight.

  • Make sure you request the right terminal for drop-off. The Uber driver must drop you off at your designated terminal.

Ridesharing

  • Share a ride and the cost with uberPOOL. Catch a ride with travelers heading the same way. You can do this either to or from the airport. You request the rideshare before confirming the ride. It's on the bottom of the screen.

  • You could ride with as many as 3 other passengers in a sedan. A pick-up truck allows a maximum of 2 riders.

  • Your co-passengers may not have the same destination. It will be in a similar area, though. Make sure you account for a longer ride and allow enough time to make your flight.

Pricing

Uber may cost less than a taxi. But watch out for surge pricing.

Uber activates this pricing when there's a high demand for drivers. Think festivals, shows, and high profile concerts. Uber claims it's to encourage more drivers to work during the peak times. Whether that's true or not is up for debate.

Be careful when you calculate surge pricing. It's not a percentage of your base fare. For example:

You may see "Surge x2" on your app. This isn't 2% but double the fare. It still may not be a bad deal since Uber fares sometimes beat taxi fares.

Here's a sample of non-peak Uber charges from the airport:

  • Las Vegas Strip Hotels:

    • $11-$34 to the Bellagio
    • $10-$29 to the MGM Grand
    • $12-36 to the Venetian

  • Las Vegas Convention Center costs between $11-$33 on average

  • Downtown Las Vegas costs between $14-$46 on average

The large variance in fees is due to the type of ride you choose. We discuss these in detail below.

The Cars You Can Expect

Drivers use their personal vehicles for Uber. But that doesn't mean you'll end up in a jalopy. Las Vegas requires Uber vehicles meet the following:

  • Aged 2002 or newer
  • Must have 4 doors
  • Can't have any noticeable damage (mechanic or cosmetic)

If you have specific preferences for your ride, know these options:

  • UberX: This is your economy choice. Expect a low budget, but decent, car. It can hold up to 4 people. It's your cheapest option in Las Vegas outside of uberPOOL.

  • UberXL: This is the economy choice for large groups. You'll ride in an SUV meant for your size party (up to 6 people). Expect your fare to double compared to UberX, though.

  • SELECT: If you prefer a more luxurious ride, choose Uber SELECT. You'll ride in a vehicle that is 2012 or newer and is a luxury sedan. This option is for 4 or fewer passengers. Expect fares around 2.5 times the uberX fare.

Wait Times Vary

Now what about the dreaded wait times? If you've ever stood in the taxi line for 2 hours like I have, you know the pain is real. Uber might decrease your wait times.

Don't go making plans just yet, though. Uber does its best to estimate wait times, but they can't control everything.

Taking 30 minutes to go 1 mile is a real thing on the Strip. What should you do? When your apps says 5 minutes, plan on more like 15-20. Here's why:

  • Las Vegas traffic can change in the blink of an eye in just the 4-mile stretch. 40 casinos and 50 hotels can cause heavy traffic.
  • There may be a traffic back-up at the dedicated Uber pick-up area. This can add minutes onto your wait time. Uber doesn't account for this delay in their time estimate.

Make sure you are ready at the designated time, though. Uber drivers can't wait (probably due to the above traffic issue).

Tip: Many Vegas hotels have designated pick-up / drop-off areas for ridesharing. Ask your concierge if this exists at your hotel. This can cut out some of the delay and confusion while waiting for your ride.

Lyft Is an Option Too

Uber isn't the only ridesharing app in town. Lyft started operating in Las Vegas shortly before Uber started. They offer similar fares, but there are a few key differences.

  • Lyft calls their surge pricing "Prime Time pricing." It may be lower than Uber's surge pricing, though. You'll see it shown as a (+ %) on the app. You can determine if it's Prime Time before you secure the reservation.

  • Lyft may find you easier in the craziness of the Vegas strip. Not all locations have designated ridesharing destinations. Lyft drivers find you using the pin drop in Apple and Google maps. Uber drivers must use the Uber app. Some say the Uber app has less accuracy.

  • Lyft offers different fares based on the type of car you choose. Lyft is your basic fare. Plus offers seating for 6 passengers and Premier is your luxury ride.

Final Word

You have many options to get around Las Vegas. With your smartphone in hand, you can compare prices within a matter of minutes. Work the system and hail the ride costing the least during peak times. Maybe then you'll have more money to hit it big on the slots.

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