Uber drivers unable to wait around DC area airports to pick up passengers

There is a battle brewing between cab drivers and Uber vehicles at D.C. area airports. Drivers for the popular phone app car service say "old school" rules are blocking them from prime territory when it comes to picking up passengers.

Right now, only traditional cabs can wait outside of the baggage checkout areas, but Uber drivers say it is about time that changed.

Uber has revolutionized the transportation business in this town. While traditional cab companies have lost customers and regulatory battles against them, there is still one place taxis are top dog and that is here at the airport.

In Washington, the Declaration of Independence says "all men are created equal." But at Washington's airports? All car services are not.

Uber passenger Dave Bamberg could have stood on a cab line, but he wanted to use Uber. He had to wait even longer because at Reagan National Airport, his driver couldn't be at the airport until Bamberg requests a ride.

His driver Thomas was in Crystal City waiting a couple of blocks ways.

Uber drivers say that couple of blocks can add 10 to 15 minutes onto Uber airport pickups and gives cabs an unfair advantage.

Right now, the airport rules say only cab drivers can wait outside the baggage claim line. If you are an Uber driver, you have to wait off the airport's property. Uber drivers will tell you that is just not fair.

"Everybody uses Uber now and it would be good if they can put up a stand for us also," said Uber driver Ali Agha.

Chris Paolino with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said the reason for the "cabs-only" regulation is to stop unlicensed cabs from preying on passengers. But that was years before anyone dreamed you could summon a ride on a smartphone.

"Our regulations currently, we're taking a look at them, looking to update them, working with stakeholders to incorporate new technologies like Uber, like Lyft," said Paolino.

But compromise will not come easy after cab drivers are losing lots business and battles to Uber. These non-Uber drivers are in no mood to start sharing spots.

For now, taxis will keep their "first-class" status at the airport while Uber drivers like Thomas said, "It's a struggle for us because we want to be here on more of a timely basis."

They will have to keep fighting airport regulations before they can get on board.

Uber drivers will tell you the situation is even worse for them out at Dulles International Airport. The Washington Flyer Taxi has an exclusive contract with Dulles to insure there is always a cab available at all times of the day.

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