LAX is citing UberBlack and UberSUV drivers for not gathering enough info on passengers

Uber is running into problems at Los Angeles International Airport. Photo: Uber

Uber is running into problems at Los Angeles International Airport. Photo: Uber

Police at Los Angeles International Airport have begun to enforce little known rules that make it slightly more difficult for two of the most popular ride-sharing services — UberBlack and UberSUV — to pick up passengers at terminals.

Drivers for two companies have received about 15 administrative citations in the past two weeks, according to a Los Angeles World Airports police source. The transgression? The drivers have failed to produce to police officers a valid “waybill.” That essentially means the drivers aren’t gathering enough information on passengers.

The good news is that UberBlack and UberSUV are still making LAX pickups. Also, as a passenger, you have nothing to worry about — only the driver will be cited by police.

Here’s the deal. The airport gets to make its own rules about who can make terminal pickups. According to Los Angeles World Airports Police Sgt. Karla Ortiz, drivers making pickups at LAX in exchange for money must first learn some key details about their fare, and the driver must have that information in writing. Ortiz said this is some of the information required:

  1. Name of the customer
  2. The terminal pickup location
  3. The arrival time of the customer
  4. Airline flight number
  5. Date the ride was arranged.
  6. Passenger’s destination.

If you’re a regular UberBlack or UberSUV customer, you probably know the problem. The mobile phone app doesn’t ask most of this information, and thus the driver won’t have it to produce to police unless the driver calls you first.

“If they are missing the flight number, if they are missing the airline, if they are missing the terminal, or they hare missing the destination, that would qualify as an incomplete waybill,” Ortiz said. “It would have to meet all those requirements for it to be a valid waybill.”

Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for Uber, said in an email that there’s a quick fix.

“We communicated previously to UberBLACK and UberSUV partners that drivers should call the rider as soon as they accept a request from LAX to record all fields that are incomplete on their electronic waybill,” Noyes said. “We’ll be sending out another reminder this week as well.”

On Reddit, a driver posted a photograph of a citation he or she claims to have received from airport police. The driver in that case was cited for “Soliciting” and “Failure to Possess Valid Waybill.”

You may remember last month, when I wrote about a LAX crackdown against UberX, Sidecar and Lyft. At the time, a police source told me that airport police had assessed 200 citations to drivers in a two-month period. Afterward, UberX halted all pickups at LAX.

This situation does not sound as dire. I wouldn’t characterize it as a crackdown. But it will be interesting to see what happens next.

As for why the waybill exists?

“It is just part of the enforcement to always look at the waybill,” Ortiz said. “They are the only way we can make sure that people who are conducting business at the airport are doing it properly.”

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