Sydney Airport UberX passengers to be charged $4 pickup fee

By David Flynn, September 3 2016
Sydney Airport UberX passengers to be charged $4 pickup fee

UberX and Go Car passengers will pay a minimum $4 surcharge for being picked up at Sydney Airport’s domestic terminals from September 13.

The fee will also apply to pre-booked taxis and friends and family collecting travellers from the new Priority Pick-up zone – currently a free public pick-up zone – located between the T2 and T3 domestic terminals used by Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar, Tigerair and Rex, among others.

Drivers waiting in this zone for up to 15 minutes will be charged $4 – a fee which drivers of UberX and Go Car will pass on to their passengers.

This is in line with the $4.10 access fee paid by taxis using the Sydney Airport rank.

However, long waits will prove even more expensive, at $8 for 16-30 minutes and $20.40 for up to one hour.

Hire cars and UberBlack rides will continue to use the existing kerbside pick-up zones outside each of the domestic terminals.

Walk further for a free ride

The free passenger pick-up area is being relocated further away from the terminals to the P3 undercover multi-storey car park, with the free pick-up time limit extended from 10 minutes to to 15 minutes.

There will also be a one hour free parking option at the Blu Emu Car Park, accessible to both T2 and T3 via a free shuttle bus.

The new priority pick-up zone comes "in addition to the range of car parking options available at the airport for people who wish to park and stay longer, including savings for those who pre-book their parking online," says Sydney Airport Corporation.

"Sydney Airport has developed these new arrangements as a passenger-focused solution to the changing operational landscape of pre-booked commercial services."

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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.

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 436

It would be completely fair for Uber pick ups to pay the same airport fee as cabs do.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 692

No, it would be completely fair for the airport pick-up fee to be dropped altogether - both for taxis and Uber.

This fee simply represents yet another rent-seeker charge on passengers using the terminals. Please tell me where else has the hide to charge for being picked up whether it be a taxi of Uber. Doesn't happen on George Street or anywhere esle to my knowledge.

Sydney Airport Corporation makes a killing out of self-drive parking at the airport, not to mention Taxi surcharges and the ludicrous Airport station access fees. It is almost impossible to get to the airport unless you use the highly undesirable Route 400 bus from Bondi to Burwood via the airport.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 214

I'm going to have to disagree.

You are correct that few other premises charge an access fee for taxi ranks, which is a strong argument, BUT you haven't followed the process from start to finish. I think this may be because most people don't have enough information to understand how that fee works.

Let me explain:

  • Any taxi dropping off at the airport either has the choice of immediately leaving the area empty, OR waiting for a new fare. The most popular option is to wait for a new fare, and a huge number of cabs will drive around to a waiting area before being called up to the taxi rank by controllers.
  • Taxis at airports utilise a large holding facility (essentially a gigantic, exclusive "taxi carpark"), which is provided by the airport operators.
  • Given that taxis entering that facility can often wait hours before being called to the airport rank, depending on how busy it is, the holding areas usually contain facilities and amenities for cab drivers while they wait.
  • These driver waiting facilities include canteen, bathrooms, showers, car cleaning areas, social areas, and in some locations even small movie rooms. (Obviously this costs money, so the airport charges a small fee for its running costs and upkeep.)
  • Once their number is called (similar to taking a ticket at the supermarket deli), they can go back to their cab, and drive around to the arrivals-area taxi ranks for a new fare.
  • The upside for taxi drivers is that there is guaranteed work, the downside is they have to wait a long time for it (which is why they get angry if passengers take short-distance fares).
  • Uber drivers do not utilise these facilities, so you could argue that they shouldn't pay an airport access fee. Unfortunately, Uber drivers (who operate on a lower cost model), hover around the airport fringe, clogging up roads and local carparks, waiting for bookings.

(When you drive down Joyce Drive at Sydney Airport, the free carpark between McDonalds and KFC is crushed full of Uber drivers waiting in their cars to collect a fare.)

Thus, it would be appropriate for Uber drivers to either pay a fee and be provided a dedicated waiting area, or not collect fares from the airport at all.

This is fair for all stakeholders:

  • The airport provides a service (as they do for taxis) and recover their costs.
  • Taxis aren't put at an unfair disadvantage because their rivals avoid the airport service fee.
  • Uber is accomodated by the airport, and has a dedicated waiting space.
  • The customer has more flexible transport options, and it only cost a few dollars extra.

It would be unfair to drop the fee altogether, because then the airport operator would have to spread the taxi facility costs across ALL customers, not just the ones taking a cab...

So there you go...

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 441

I'm going to have to say that blaming Uber for Sydney Airports traffic problems is just complete nonsense.

Way before Uber was around and still to this current day the infrastructure is woefully inadequate to serve the number of vehicles entering and exiting the site.

For examples sake, and I'm rounding up here, 5% of the total traffic is hardly going to make a noticeable difference as you would suggest.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 214

With respect... You've ignored everything I've just explained, to argue some irrelevant point about traffic jams that I'm not interested in.

I'm obviously not blaming Uber for Sydney Airport's traffic woes.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

31 Jan 2012

Total posts 107

So what you just said is I’m paying for a taxi driver to use a car park and facilities. Sick of costs being passed on to the consumer. Greed. Can you come to my work and pay for my parking so i can earn a wage...thanks

27 Aug 2013

Total posts 31

Great post Jay! Finally someone with a sensible business-focussed approach to the issue rather than another emotive airport or airline  bashing post that is becoming the norm on here. I think a lot of people posting on this site must work for non-profits or government these days.

Kimshep, a couple of other issues with your posts that need to be addressed are:

The taxi fee model applies across all the major Australian airports, so it's not something unique to Sydney Airport. You catch a taxi from an airport in Australia, you'll pay a fee for this privilege (well the taxi driver does but as an industry they choose to pass this onto the customer in full).

Westpac bought AirportLink from the receivers of the original Airport Link Company. MAP and Macquarie never owned Airport Link, nor did they make a substantial profit when it was sold to Westpac. It was reported at the time of the sale that Macquarie was an underbidder in that sale process - you don't bid for something you already own. I suggest you do some research on the historic ownership structure next time before you perpetuate something which is blatantly wrong.

The NSW Government is the primary beneficiary of the money generated by the station access fee now - it receives 85% of net access fee revenue (gross proceeds less some allowances to operate the stations etc). It is a NSW Government issue.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 214

Thanks ausdt,

It always astonishes me how many supposed "business travellers" on AusBT actually appear to have limited or no business sense at all.

20 Apr 2011

Total posts 19

Great answer, thanks Jay.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 473


You noted, and I quote - These driver waiting facilities include canteen, bathrooms, showers, car cleaning areas, social areas, and in some locations even small movie rooms...


Is there any chance Sydney Airport Corporation could maybe put up a HUGE sign, like maybe a giant billboard at the entry to this area and MAYBE suggest to drivers that they avail themselves of these fantastic facilities? Because at the moment, in my opinion they are not...

So lets move on and talk about the drivers who are now clearly fed (at the canteen), feeling cleansed of body (in the seldom used showers) and car (in the likewise seldom used car cleaning facilities) and now ready to collect a sucker, sorry fare paying passenger and OMG they find the ungrateful passenger only wants to go a short distance - which you reference - which is why they get angry if passengers take short-distance fares...

Yet ALL cab drivers can have their cab number recorded as accepting a short-distance fare so they can return and jump the queue...

This self-rightous attitude is why when I get in a cab at Domestic and need to go only as far as Dunning Ave or O'Dea Ave I make a point to tell my driver that I swapped position with the person in front of me as they were running late for a meeting at Macquarie Park. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2015

Total posts 121

I agree with kimshep too. It is bloody expensive to get to the airport. $17 by train from Central. Just a ripoff. If the government wants to stimulate air travel, they better make it affordable to get to the airport.

24 Dec 2013

Total posts 97

Come down to Melbourne. It is only $19 per person each way for a 23km bus ride from the city to the airport.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 548

That's like comparing apples and oranges


Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 729

Yes, strap hanging on a bus, stuck on a freeway that has been completely pulled apart for years and probably won't be finished before the State Government is. No sign of a train in Melbourne to the airport, and as I found out Taxi's are now charging their own swindel $5 Airport fee that they add to the fare. Uber is looking good.


17 Dec 2013

Total posts 47

Much as I'm a fan of UberX, congestion on the access roads into and out of SYD make the train a no brainer for me

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Nov 2011

Total posts 129

Actually I'm pretty sure most of the station access fee ends up in Gov coffers, not with the airport.

Road access should start to get better with the new roads around the domestic terminal. My main gripe is the guys who direct you to the numbered taxi bays who seem to somehow slow the whole process down. Not to mention the 25 minute complaining from the taxi driver all the way home about how long they waited at the airport.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 692

"Actually I'm pretty sure most of the station access fee ends up in Gov coffers, not with the airport."

Of course rob01, yes you are correct .. now. But don't forget that MAP (Macquarie Airports Ltd) originally received this benefit from the Government as the initial owner. It was then sold off - at a decent profit - to Westpac Bank. The NSW Government via CityRail now collects the station impost which goes to General Revenue and paying off the holder. Actually, the NSW Govt had the opportunity to buy back the entire project some 18 months ago, but chose not to.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

Kinshep, MAP never had an interest in AirportLink. The original owners never made a profit when selling to Westpac -- AirportLink went bankrupt and Westpac bought it for a song.

20 Apr 2016

Total posts 1

Wow . Great news. Let's figure out a way to make leaving the airport even slower and more annoying. What's wrong with just using the train to get out of there and then catching a cab or uber when you get to central . Second to train taxis would be the most efficient way out and the ranks need to be improved by making them bigger . The inefficient way hire cars exit the airport and now uber x will do the same will make leaving the airport a bigger nightmare than what it already is. Taxis wait in the holding bays and get pushed down in mass when needed. Uber X and hire cars are pushed one by one.

21 Apr 2016

Total posts 21

The cost is what's wrong with using a train to get out of the airport. Group of four? That'll be $70 for the train trip vs $18-25 for Uber, to get from Domestic Terminal to Central. Not to mention the potential saving in distance if you live south or west of the airport (a very large percentage of Sydney).

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 113

I still prefer the train, smooth ride with the convenience and speed of being collected and dropped off at any station  in the city circle direct in / out of the airport.

I do feel for leisure travellers though, almost no way to escape the huge fees by any mode to get to / from the airport.

Uber all the way. Just drop a pin at the arrivals hall and they will come fetch you. the airport has no idea who is an uber driver or not. if in doubt just sit in the front seat and pretend you are meeting an old friend. This is what I do in parts of the world where uber drivers are regualarly attacked by taxi drivers. too easy. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 548

Good luck with that!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Nov 2014

Total posts 32

When I lived in Sydney I always had my friends and family wait at the departure drop off and pick them up from there. No one asks any questions and it solves the drama of the tiny arrivals pick up area that is miles away from specific terminals.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 548

So how does that apply to uber when they have a geoblock in place?

Why is it that we seem now to be totally impervious to all these added charges?  This is a legislated MONOPOLY organisation and should be made to limit its income to a little above government bond rates rather that the huge sums that it seems to run up.  they have also got their fingers into Baggeries Creek so no chance of any competitive tensions there.  It might come as a complete surprise to most readers that in the USA (the land of free enterprise) almost all major airports ARE NOT IN PRIVATE OWNERSHIP but owned by local authorites. Thsi si why you can park in the parking building right opposite Tom Bradley Terminal at LAX for an hour for about $3, just walk across the crossing and find your travellers.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Oct 2015

Total posts 11

I agree with you completely. I am all for free enterprise and competition however this is a monopoly. Furthermore the model of building and extending infrastructure with public money, then privatising it to run more efficiently can ONLY work where there is legislated competition allowed. Here the Sydney Airport Corporation essentiallydoes not have to answer to anyone as they are the only game in town and neither side of politics will want to do anything about it.

23 Feb 2016

Total posts 33

The fee is added if the passenger books the pickup fare within Sydney airport's geofenced area. Selecting a location just outside of Sydney airport will not incur the fee and all you have to do is let the driver know that you're in public pickup.

Most drivers will not cancel the fare as fare cancellations are tracked by Uber. If a driver gives you an earful, rate them one star. I've done this overseas where similar situations have occured and before pickups at Sydney airport were allowed.

30 Jun 2011

Total posts 49

So is the car park between KFC & McDowells outside of the Geoblock?  Because with all the Uber drivers waiting there, walkiing the shortish (sans luggage) distance seems like a good way to save $4

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Sep 2016

Total posts 7

In my days in Sydney, I would catch the train to Mascot for about $3 and then walk the 2km or so to the terminal. Good to stretch your legs before a flight!

23 Feb 2016

Total posts 33

You can still catch the bus to Botany Rd from the city on the M20 for about $3. It's less than a 2km walk to the airport too. Worth it if you've got a little bit of time to spare.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 473

I had some meetings rescheduled at the last minute in the CBD so I walked from World Square to Qantas Domestic - with backpack and roller bag! 

Was actually quite pleasant...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Aug 2014

Total posts 6

A "passenger focused solution"!!  How do these people sleep at night?

24 Apr 2015

Total posts 128

surely people will say stuff this & just stop in the middle of the road. How on earth are they going to stop this or police this.

Bloody arrogance of these bloody airports.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 211

Good to see Sydney airport continuing its great tradition of ripping off its customers. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 211

The problem seems to be that they have used a sledge hammer to crack a nut. Because Uber is now 'officially' able to be used they add on a fee to Uber, which will pass it on to customers as per taxis. The issue I have is that they have chosen to take the opportunity to tax those who have family/friends pick them up. Oh well, it's only a short escalator ride to the departures drop off zone to be picked up I guess. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Dec 2015

Total posts 26

Seems they are going to charge you using your e-tag. Is this a good thing? Soon the airport will charge you for drop-offs as well. The airport seems to be a law unto itself. It appears the current free kerbside pickup is no longer going to be available for any private pick ups.

13 Sep 2013

Total posts 22

Besides Uber & Taxis - what a joke having to pay to pick-up friends & family at the airport unless you ask them to take a long hike past P3. 

What's next? Will they start charging people that drop friends & family off at the airport???

27 May 2015

Total posts 23

One new option is for an arriving passenger to take the shuttle to Blue Emu and meet their family/friend-ride there, taking advantage of the new 1 hour free parking. Especially useful if someone has difficulty walking to the new free pick up zone and/or a lot of luggage.

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