Uber and Lyft Driver Instructions for Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)

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When you talk to rideshare drivers in the Raleigh-Durham area, you can’t go more than a few minutes without at least mentioning Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and it’s obvious why. Over 12.8 million passengers move through RDU every year, and many of them need rides to and from the airport. This means opportunity for rideshare drivers.

But, if you’re going to make the most out RDU as a rideshare driver, you’re going to need to understand the ins and outs of the airport, understand how to navigate the airport, and develop a solid airport strategy.

I want to make sure that you are making as much as possible while working at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, so the Gridwise team and I have put together this instructional guide to help Uber and Lyft drivers be successful when driving RDU.

See the topics covered in this blog post below:

  1. What do I need to know or do before arriving at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)?
  2. Do you need any permits to drive at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)?
  3. Where is the rideshare waiting area at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)?
  4. What are the passenger pick up rules at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)?
  5. What are the passenger drop off rules at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)?
  6. When is the best time to drive at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)?
  7. What is the best Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) driving strategy?

What do I need to do before I arrive at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) and enter the airport queue?

Step #1: Get your trade dress

If you’re going to be a rideshare driver in the Raleigh-Durham area, you’re going to need your trade dress, and if you’re going to dress at RDU, you’re REALLY going to need your trade dress! If you are seen picking up passengers with no trade dress, be prepared to receive a ticket!

So before you do anything you must make sure that you have your Uber or Lyft decals. You can easily pick these up from one of the rideshare companies.

To get your Uber Decal you can visit the local Greenlight Hub.

To get your Lyft Decal you can place an order on your dashboard. You can also print a temporary decal if you lose yours or are waiting for one to come in the mail.

Step #2: Know the airport regulations

One of the nice things about RDU is that you don’t need a specific airport decal to drive there, however, there are a few key rules and regulations that you must follow.

  1. Always keep one of your rideshare apps on at all times while on airport property
  2. Don’t wait in any other areas except the designated staging areas (see the map below). Not only is this against regulations but you also won’t be added to the queue. So if there is no room in the staging lot you must leave. This means NO WAITING ON AIRPORT PROPERTY!!!
  3. Abide by the terminal and parking lot speed limit of 20 MPH
  4. Keep the staging lot clean! Don’t do any maintenance on your car here or dump trash on the ground
  5. Be prepared to show your waybill. You can access it through your Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare app.

Where is the Uber/Lyft waiting area at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)?

All rideshare drivers are expected to wait at the TNC staging lot that is located just off of Departure Drive (which is just off of airport BLVD). See the blue section on the map below for driving directions.

Also note, that you’ll need a code to enter the lot. You can enter either LYFT (5938) or UBER (8237).

Once you get the staging lot you’ll automatically be entered into the airport queue. It will be up to you to find a spot to wait.

How should Uber and Lyft drivers pick up passengers at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)?

Pickups at RDU are very easy.

You have two options, pick up your passenger at Zone 1 in terminal 1, or pick up your passenger at Zone 17 in terminal 2.

You’ll be directed to the right pick up location by your respective rideshare app. See the pink section of the below map for driving instructions.

The Uber/Lyft app will automatically direct the rider to go to the designated area depending on their terminal.

You should also note that Lyft has launched their “pre-dispatch” feature at SAT that basically tells drivers to start heading toward the pickup area before you have actually received a ride request.

A pre-dispatch message looks like this:

If you receive this message, head towards your pick up point but keep an eye on your app as you may not receive a request. I know, that’s annoying, but just drive back to the TNC staging lot and you’ll keep your place in line.

Please also note that Lyft has been turning this off at airports around the country, so this feature may disappear at any time.

How should Uber and Lyft drivers drop off passengers at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)?

Dropping off passengers at RDU is simple. At Terminal 1, drop passengers off near ticketing office. At Terminal #2, drop passengers on the departures level.

When is the best time to drive at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)?

As we said at the beginning of our guide Raleigh-Durham International Airport can be a gold mine for rideshare drivers in the Raleigh-Durham area as there are tons of passengers traveling through the airport every single day no matter what time of the year it is.

But… you aren’t the only driver that knows that. So you will see many drivers in the airport queue at RDU regularly.

So the best time to work at RDU is when the ratio of passengers to drivers is at its absolute highest.

To understand when this ratio is highest, check your Gridwise app and compare queue times to passenger arrival times.

Now, there are certainly different holidays and events that drive more passengers like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and big sporting events. But on a day to day basis, you just need to track passenger demand and driver supply with a tool like Gridwise.

What airport strategy to use at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)?

Pick up a passenger on the way to the airport!

Don’t just be a driver that picks up passengers at the airport! Also pick them up when they are heading to the airport. Gridwise does a great job of telling you when there is also 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 that if it’s a short ride, some companies let you jump back in line after you’ve dropped that passenger off.

Look out for your short ride bump

After waiting for some time at the airport for a passenger, there is nothing worse than getting a ride that’s 5-minutes away. That’s why the major rideshare companies have some form of a short ride bump that allows you to jump back into the front of the line if you get a very short ride request.

To take advantage of a short ride bump, simply complete your short ride and look out for a text message or in-app message that gives you the option to head back to the TNC lot for a preferred spot in the queue.

Always be prepared

You never know when law enforcement will show up, so always keep your driver’s license, insurance card, and registration handy. And don’t forget to have your placard displayed.

Now you should be ready to make that drive to RDU and actually earn money instead of sitting in your car for hours, on hours, and hours!

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