Driving to the airport under the best of circumstances is challenging. There is the traffic, there is the congestion at the airport on the arrival ramp and there is the typically inconvenient location of the airport (and associated petrol and parking costs) that all make driving to the airport a less than pleasurable chore. Even when we are travelling ourselves, we mull over whether driving there is the best option.
That’s why one topic that generates much debate is asking someone for a drive to or from the airport. While the reaction is often based on the context and the existing relationship between the requestor and the requested, the question elicits reactions ranging from “Of course” to “How selfish”. This touchiness results in hesitation to ask for an airport ride.
One factor that is often raised is the age of the requestor. The consensus is that young adults who request are better received- especially when they offer to pay for petrol- than adults who are well into their careers. The reason for this more favorable reaction is because it’s understood that young adults are just beginning financially and consequently find it difficult to pay for expensive transportation such as taxis.
By the same token, people who are financially struggling are better received than those who are financially self-sufficient. Someone who could pay for her/his own transportation but requests a ride are seen as pushing the line of what’s acceptable behavior. People do tend to help each other, but everyone has a different level of the extent to which they are willing to be inconvenienced for another person.
That’s where the nature of the relationship between the requestor and the requested comes in. For some, driving someone to the airport is a major inconvenience, one that even friends shouldn’t request. Yet for best friends, family and other “top tier” relationships, they are willing to make the sacrifice. Indeed, it’s common etiquette to drive your friends and family to the airport, and it’s done with the understanding that the favor will be returned.
There are people who are open to requests from non-friends/family members, especially if the requestor is a boss or superior at work. And there are even the rare few who actually don’t mind driving people to the airport, period. Such people are the super helpful type, who think nothing of giving a hand whenever it’s requested, regardless of the inconvenience to themselves. And finally, there is an even smaller subset of this group enjoy giving rides.
The problem is that many requestors overstep the boundaries and assume the person they’re asking falls into this super helpful group! More the point, if someone asks for a lift or a pick up for a flight that leaves from a secondary airport or that is scheduled for a red eye (either early morning or late evening), they should definitely be best friends or family and they should increase the amount they offer to the requestor to cover the extra petrol/parking and inconvenience. Yet it is precisely the same people who shouldn’t ask for such rides who do, and who often neglect to provide any form of payment.
Given the vehement emotions that asking for a ride to the airport may stir up, it’s always best to consider other cost-effective alternatives. After all, if you can budget for your trip, you can budget for your ride to and from the airport. Here are two options to mention to that requester who goes too far the next time they broach the subject with you:
- Public transit: This option is obvious to both you and the requester, but it needs to listed regardless. Every airport is designed to be accessible by public transit. The fact that the person is asking you for a lift indicates that they don’t want to have to deal with the longer travel times and awkwardness of loading baggage that come with taking public transit. Still, public transit is nearly always the most cost-effective way to get to/from the airport.
- Discount parking lots: Airports have discount parking lots nearby, most of which operate shuttles to and from the airport. You drive you car to the parking lot and it is stored in a secure, monitored lot until your return. You simply take the lot’s shuttle to and from the airport to catch your flight.
- Carshare: A growing alternative to owning a car is car share. All major cities operate a car share program, where your membership entitles you to book a car for a number of hours or an entire day. Most car share programs offer drop off at the local airport.
So the next time you get asked or are considering asking for a lift, weigh your options carefully and choose the one that is the best balance of convenience and frugality without jeopardizing your relationships.