Sydney’s Qantas terminal gets Uber kerbside pickup

Terminal 3 is getting a dedicated Uber pickup zone.

By David Flynn, December 13 2023
Sydney’s Qantas terminal gets Uber kerbside pickup

Qantas and QantasLink passengers jetting into Sydney Airport’s domestic terminal and looking for an Uber ride will no longer have to trudge across to the Priority Pickup area squirrelled away at the carpark between T2 and T3.

From December 21, there’ll be a dedicated Uber ‘kerbside’ pickup zone right outside the door to Terminal 3 arrivals.

And it’s exclusive to Uber, with a spokesperson for Sydney Airport confirming rideshare competitors such as Ola, DiDi and GoCatch will have to make do with the more distant Priority Pickup area.

Sydney Airport’s T3 kerbside Uber pickup zone is handily located across from baggage claim carousels 1 and 2 (directly ahead of the taxi pickup area) so it’s going to be a real time-saver for harried flyers.

“With rideshare now accounting for nearly 40% of all pickups at Sydney Airport, it was evident that we needed to provide a pickup experience that best caters to consumer preferences, while prioritising safety and convenience,” explains Dom Taylor, Managing Director of Uber ANZ.

There’ll now be seven pickup bays for Uber drivers, with a holding area adjacent to the taxi holding area in the U-shaped space between T2 and T3 whjere Uber drivers can wait until they accept a job and then pull into one of the pickup bays to meet their rider. 

The new passenger pickup arrangements at Sydney Airport's Terminal 3.
The new passenger pickup arrangements at Sydney Airport's Terminal 3.

This arrangement also means a change for limousines and private hire cars, which from December 18 will now be assigned to nine pickup bays some 80 metres further along Shiers Avenue (note that these bays will be located on either side of Shiers Avenue, with bays 6 through 9 closer to the P2 car park).

Passengers arriving at T2 – which hosts the likes of VA, Jetstar and Rex - will continue to use the existing Priority Pickup area, although Sydney Airport expects the new T3 Uber pickup zone will reduce crowding and congestion in the Priority Pickup area “by more than a third.”

And as anyone who’s used that zone in recent times – particularly on a Friday afternoon, when it can best be described as a zoo – will agree this a very good thing.

A dedicated Uber pickup zone at T2 could also be on the cards. “Longer term, we would like to roll out a kerbside pickup zone at our T2 domestic terminal” notes Kenn Langcake, Sydney Airport’s Head of Commercial Transport.

“Rideshare now accounts for nearly 40 percent of all pickups at the airport, up from just 7 percent in 2016, so it’s important that we continue to evolve our services in line with shifting passenger preferences.

However, Sydney’s kerbside Uber pickup facility won’t use the same Uber PIN technology as at Melbourne Airport (which allows passengers to request an Uber ride, join a queue at the airport and give the next available Uber their PIN).

Additional reporting by Chris Ashton

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

JJ1
JJ1

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2015

Total posts 24

For someone who uses Uber and flies Qantas most of the time this is fantastic news although I can image that with just 7 pick up bays there could be some congestion during the peaks

For someone who can't bare quntum I prefer rex and vag

23 Apr 2022

Total posts 2

I don't really understand the relevance of a Qantas (quntum?) criticism here. 

25 Jun 2012

Total posts 61

I would hope they make it more like a taxi, where the car you ride is the next in line and you give the driver a code, vs waiting for a specific vehicle and the pickup area being a complete mess

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 156

Exactly my thoughts. Just copy what they’re already doing in Melbourne. 

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 41

I think they'd need signage for "on demand Uber" directing people to this new "uber taxi rank", and "pre-booked Uber" over to the standard pickup spot, otherwise there would be a lot of confusion with people expecting their specific car to show up in the terminal 3 Uber Rank. (I'm just clinging to the idea of Uber as a "sharing service" for a few people looking to share the ride when they're also in the area and going a certain way, not the professional driving, 'taxi by another name' that it mostly operates as)

22 Sep 2017

Total posts 79

How much is an Uber to International?

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 470

about time.It sucks being relegated to some corner for rideshares

Rxm
Rxm

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jan 2017

Total posts 66

Anything to help passengers avoid the taxi rip offs where fares can mysteriously double depending on the driver and meters are hidden from passengers will be a good thing. 

09 Dec 2023

Total posts 2

indeed, that's why I never use taxis anymore. Mind you some Uber drivers will take the scenic route to jack up your fare.

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 41

Uber is a preset amount though? sometimes their routing engine goes a little funny and sends a longer route with weird pricing, but you can add stops to force a better/cheaper route before you order it.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 470

I never heard back yet from GM Cabs about my booking so I think i will cancel and look at the cheapest Uber on the day.Can I order one from Adelaide prior to getting on the first flight of the day.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 242

Yes, 'Uber Reserve' lets you pre-book a ride.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Mar 2019

Total posts 3

You can - it is called "reserve" in the app

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jul 2013

Total posts 18

Yes you can. 

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 242

Great idea to have pickup at kerbside bays plus this 'holding area' for Ubers waiting in line but I wonder how Uber and SYD will manage this, will it be more like a taxi where the Ubers simply collect each passenger in turn instead of you having to request an Uber and then the job being accepted by a driver?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 695

hmm, you'd better hope that SYD Airport get their act into gear and set up an identical area at Terminal 2. 

Otherwise, you'll find the QF terminal 3 'Uber pick-up point' being swamped by Terminal 2 refugees, as well. 7 Uber spots is nowhere near sufficient to serve all the domestic areas of the airport.

It would also be interesting to know the details of how Uber actually achieved this 'exclusive' benefit, to the exclusion of other rideshare operators.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 470

I only booked this morning but where is this pick up zone once you leave baggage claim?.I am actually flying in Qantas from Adelaide on the 6am flight next Saturday.I was originally booked with GM Cabs but I read a few reviews on how bad they are(They wanted 30% more for a ride to the Sydney cruise ship terminal for a much inferior service)Does this also apply who booked much further out than me?I am this time around comparing Uber going to the Cruise and then returning using either GM Cabs or a Train from Circular Quay as last year I did the same trip using Astra Limousines there but returned by Train.It will be most interesting to see as I am only one person what shows up on the day.

02 Aug 2017

Total posts 1

As a person who has driven around the airport for the last 33 years, I can assure you this was done with no consultation with the limousine industry.

Come the 21st, all of the limos picking will be queing up to enter those 5 spots, just think about it, 3000 hire cars and 5 spaces, this is an attack on our industry.

Once they queue up and wait , they will block the exit for taxis and ride share, since we can no longer go around.

I would recommend that all of you give yourself extra time to get to the airport as it will be gridlocked.

We did a walk through the other day and the mini bus operatos also were loosing their spots and they had not been told either, so its going to be a major cluster......

For all you maths nerds out there , by their own admission the airport said we do roughly 1.1 million pickups from T3, but the 5 spaces have only got capacity for 75 thousand transfers, so what about the rest?

I know ride share has its place in the community, but this is restraint of trade, its like saying to a cleaner, go and do your job and mop the floor but you cant have a mop, you need to do it with a wet wipe.

The limo industry is not in competition with Rideshare, our clients will never use ride share and ride share clients will never use us, so why this blatant attack on our industry??? Is uber upset that we are still in business and growing year on year.

We are now at 20% more than pre covid levels. Because rideshare cannot look after certain needs of the public.

And I am sure all the readers here and yourself David, surely you must advocate for freedom of choice !

TI
TI

17 Dec 2023

Total posts 1

Agree with Kalipciyan here. 
Have been a driver, worked in operations, and now owning my own successful limousine business which operates around the world,  and personally spend more time living out of a suitcase and travelling on planes each and every year, i cannot understand how SACL, can go and make this call, without any consultation with industry providers, and leaders that have worked in this space longer than most have been working within Airport management roles within SACL.

It's simple how this has rolled out. Uber has thrown tonnes of cash to make kerbside an exclusive pickup zone for their own. It's not a shared rideshare space, it's a exclusive arrangement. How is this not a restriction of trade to all other rideshare operators? 


From a customer point of view, you are a premium customer for Qantas. You travel on planes each and every week, yet for your premium ground transport experience you now have to walk 100+ metres away from the terminal to get your Hire car???? I know from travelling all over the world for business, that all airports have taxi's, limousines, and rideshare, along with buses, and trains also, however kerbside pickup points have always been for the premium market and taxis. 

Rideshare accounts for 40% (David) as you say in your article, and you're probably right, but your now moving an extra 35% of rideshare traffic that was trying to pick-up from their designated shared pickup zone between terminals to kerbside at T3. The chaos this will cause for anyone trying to get down towards T2 and T3 will be off the charts. 

But again, Cash is King, the more you can throw at SACL, the more they will take. I heard a great saying the other day, If Sydney Airport could charge for Oxygen within the airport, they would!!! 

Hopefully common sense will prevail, but common sense isn't common anyone. 

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 470

at least one knows the price when they get it.How do you know what you paid for your GM cab booking which would be $66 will be the same on day of travel.I was booked with them but reading a few bad reviews on them even if dated was enough.If the choice was an Uber XL or a London Cab for about $55 it would be a no brainer to decide which one but this is a X Level which is most likely a Corolla or a  Camry similar to their opposition maybe if lucky a Civic or a Hyundai maybe a Haval that shows up but will not dare jack up prices.

18 Dec 2023

Total posts 1

This may not be the 'big win' that you imagine, David.  I'm a professional driver, who's driven around the Domestic terminal loop many hundreds of times.  At busy times, it can get extremely congested and this has been mitigated to a small degree by rideshare drivers only using half of the loop, as they pass through Priority Pickup and out the other side.

There is a real bottleneck for point to point vehicle access to T3, whereby taxis enter via the left lane on Keith Smith Avenue, just at the end of T2 and other point to point vehicles must enter via a slip lane, to the left of the taxi lane.  When taxis queue along Keith Smith Avenue to get into T3, that means that all other point to point vehicles have to drive up the right lane and push through the taxi queue to get in.  This was already causing problems when it was only limo drivers trying to get across, but now there will be 5-6 times as many vehicles having to do it!

It's easy to see this causing major gridlocks back along Keith Smith Avenue and causing major delays for commuters, who may be trying to access carparks to catch planes etc.  It could also hold up the Blue Emu buses and cause genuine problems for all travellers.

Sydney Airport have been blinded by Uber's multi-million dollar bribe to be allowed to use the space and they have given little consideration to other airport users, be they passengers or other business operators.

And, as for Qantas' premium customers, the disabled or elderly passengers, who rely upon assistance from limousine drivers, they've unfortunately been thrown to the wolves by Sydney Airport, with no viable alternative solutions in place for them.

It will be interesting to see how it unfolds when corporates start travelling again in February/March next year!


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