The Secret Ways Airports Are Surcharging You For Ground Transportation

I don’t really expect much from airports anymore. Between $15 dry-ass turkey sandwiches and outrageously expensive parking, I wouldn’t be surprised if they started charging me for the air I breathe while waiting for my delayed flight. I guess I wasn’t surprised when I learned that there are surcharges built into the ground transportation options whirling around the airport carousel.

If you’ve ever been suspicious that taxi rides from airport curbsides are more expensive than rides from your own house to the airport, then your fears were just confirmed by ABC. It reports:

Airports across the country add surcharges of up to $5 a ride — typically passed directly on to travelers — for trips originating at their curbs. There are similar charges for limousine, Uber and Lyft drivers as well as shuttle buses for hotels, car rental companies and off-airport parking lots.

Those fees quickly add up, costing travelers more than $183 million last year at the 50 largest airports in the U.S., according to Associated Press calculations based on data obtained through dozens of public records requests.


Apparently, ground transportation fees are necessary so that airports can pay to keep up the roads on their properties. In some instances, the money also goes to pay the airport staff that hails taxis and directs traffic.

Other than that, ABC reports that most airport officials were reluctant to explain the charges, except that “doing so helps keep airport costs down, which in turn makes it cheaper for airlines to serve the community.”

And you know those “free shuttles” that bus you to the rental car desk or to your long-term parking spot? Not so free, either. Typically, there’s still a charge for each loop around the airport that gets built into the cost of the rental car or the parking spot.

Happily, the three major New York City metropolitan airports are the only big airports that don’t charge pickup fees for taxis. Something to keep in mind when you fly into this joyous and stress-free place.

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.

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Kristen, mayonnaise will help that dry-ass turkey sandwich.