The Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) saw over 20 million visitors in 2019. Eight miles away from Chicago’s Loop, Midway serves as a base for Southwest Airlines and is the second busiest airport in Illinois.
This means high potential earnings for rideshare drivers who are driving in the Chicago area. Those millions of passengers need rides to and from the aviation hub—and that’s where you come in.
Midway International Airport allows Uber and Lyft vehicles at the pick-up and drop-off terminals, but before heading that way, there are a few rules you’ll want to know. To maximize earnings (and avoid being ticketed), it’s important to understand how to navigate the airport, join the queue, and legitimize your vehicle.
To help rideshare drivers be successful at MDW, we put together this blog post to serve as a guide. The following topics are covered:
- What should you do before arriving at Chicago Midway International Airport?
- Do you need any permits to drive there?
- Where is the rideshare waiting area at Midway Airport?
- What are the passenger pick-up rules at Midway Airport?
- What are the passenger drop-off rules at Midway Airport?
- When is the best time to drive at Midway Airport?
- What is the best driving strategy at Midway Airport?
Let’s dive in!
What should you do before arriving at Chicago Midway International Airport and entering the airport queue?
To pick up passengers at Chicago Midway, you’ll need your trade dress, which (as you know) is the Lyft or Uber decal that goes on your front passenger windshield facing outward.
Uber sends out this decal when drivers sign up. If you’ve lost yours since then, there are a few easy ways to replace it. You can request that a new one be mailed to you, pick one up at your local Greenlight Hub (be wary of recent closures), or print out a temporary version at home.
You’ll need to display your vehicle emblem/TNP Chauffeur License on your passenger side dashboard, and your TNP trade dress on the passenger side of your rear window. You’ll also have to display a current Chicago tax emblem on your dashboard, which the City of Chicago will email to you after you’re approved as a driver. These are issued annually, so make sure yours is for the current year.
Finally, before driving at any Chicago airport, Uber drivers must complete this airport quiz, and Lyft drivers are required to take an online lesson and quiz located in the Dashboard.
Where is the Uber/Lyft waiting area at Chicago Midway International Airport?
Chicago Midway has one designated staging area for rideshare drivers to wait in, located at 7101 S. Cicero Avenue.
Once you get to the staging lot, you’ll automatically be entered into the airport queue. You’ll be able to check your place in line in the Lyft or Uber app.
How should Uber and Lyft drivers pick up passengers at the Chicago Midway International Airport?
The driver who has been waiting the longest in the staging area gets the next rider request. Make sure not to enter out of driver mode while you wait or you’ll lose your spot in line.
Once you get a ride, head to the center lane, door 4, on the Arrivals level. Enter the center aisle and pull over to meet your rider.
If you are driving for Uber, you might be navigated to a PIN area rather than matched with a specific rider. Simply proceed to the PIN-marked area, pull forward in the queue until the parking staff directs a rider to your vehicle, then meet your rider. Enter the 6-digit PIN code he or she will provide you. Once the PIN is entered, your ride is ready to go.
Lyft’s Fast Match works the same way, except the code will be 4 digits rather than 6.
Fast Match and PIN meet-ups will occur on the lower level in the center lane, between doors 3 and 4 behind the normal pickup area.
How should Uber and Lyft drivers drop off passengers at the Chicago Midway International Airport?
Luckily, dropping off passengers at Midway is a lot easier than picking them up. Just head to the departure level at the passenger’s carrier of choice.
That’s it, and you’re back on the road!
When is the best time to drive at the Chicago Midway International Airport?
Turn to your Gridwise app for information about all arrivals and departures at Midway, as well as delays and cancellations.
Typically, midday is the best time for airport driving; most passenger arrivals and departures occur sometime between 10:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.
With Gridwise Plus you’ll be able to see airport data 24 hours in advance, so you can lock in a solid airport strategy the night before you head out. You’ll also be able to create custom alerts for arrivals and departures.
What are some good airport strategies?
Pick up a passenger on the way to the airport
Count on Gridwise to let you know when there’s a peak in airport departures, so you can hang around near hotels at that time to maximize your chances of an airport ride.
Do not cancel on a passenger after you’ve accepted a fare
If you do, you will be bumped to the bottom of the queue and your wait starts all over again. The good news is, if it’s a short ride, some companies let you jump back in line after you’ve dropped the passenger off.
Be ready to present your waybill
A waybill is essentially a receipt of the last trip you completed. Be prepared to present this to airport officials or law enforcement while waiting for arrivals.
Always be prepared
The fact is, you never know when law enforcement will show up. Keep your driver’s license, insurance card, and registration handy, and don’t forget to have your placard displayed.
Congrats! Now you’re all set to make some pick-ups and drop-offs at Chicago Midway International Airport—and maybe sneak a deep-dish pizza in between.