Pilot says Lyft driver kicked him out after realizing airport was just a $6 trip
LOS ANGELES – A man who ordered a Lyft to take him to Los Angeles International Airport this week was dropped off at a random parking lot instead after the driver realized how little money he would be making on the trip, according to a video recording of the incident.
Darryl, a pilot for a major airline who didn't want his last name used or his employer identified, was headed to LAX on Thursday morning for work when the incident took place.
He was on a tight schedule when the driver apparently realized it wasn't worth it financially for him to get the passenger to his destination and abruptly decided to abandon him.
Like many, Darryl had turned to the ride-hailing app when he needed to get to the airport.
His initial ride was canceled after the driver realized he was already 15 minutes away from where Darryl was staying in Hermosa Beach. The second driver who responded happened to be coming from LAX when he went to pick him up, Darryl told KTLA in a Skype interview from Miami on Friday.
“He ... picked me up, I loaded the bag and we and we started to leave, and then I guess he looked at – the destination popped up on his phone at that time, and then he got very frustrated,” Darryl said. “He did not want to go back to LAX.”
Darryl, who was in uniform at that time, told the driver he was a pilot and explained he needed to be at the airport by 7:30 a.m. to catch a flight. He even showed the young man his rank and wings.
Although the driver still appeared frustrated, he continued on with the ride, "gunning it" on South Bay surface streets" and even "running stop signs," according to Darryl.
“Normally I would have said something but at that point I needed to be at work. So I just thought, ‘I’ll go along for the ride and see what happens,'" he said.
It wasn't until they got to Sepulveda Boulevard that the driver started talking about how little he was making on that ride, telling Darryl that he wanted to drop him off in the Trader Joe’s parking lot in Hermosa Beach.
About to be kicked out of the vehicle, Darryl whipped out his cellphone and began filming the incident. He said he did so because things were quickly going downhill.
"Say why you're doing this again?" Darryl can be heard asking the driver, who KTLA is not identifying. "I've done nothing wrong and you're kicking me out of the car?"
The driver responds that he has the right to refuse service; but then, he reveals the real reason he wants to abandon the ride -- he'll only make $6 for what would end up being about an hour's worth of driving.
"That doesn't sound right to me," the driver said.
"Dude. I used the app to get a driver. You came and picked me up. And now you're just dropping me off in a parking lot?" an incredulous Darryl responded.
The driver then appeared to stop the vehicle and unlock the car doors.
Darryl made one last attempt with the driver, asking him, "Are you sure you want to do this?"
The driver apologized to the passenger, again citing the low hourly pay while also acknowledging that the exchange was being filmed.
"It's fine that you recorded it" he said. "But I'm sorry man, I can't make $6 an hour."
The approximately 50-second-long video ends there.
By then, it was 7:18 a.m. and Darryl wasn't going to make it to work on time. He called for another Lyft who took him the rest of the way. He said he arrived at the airport 15 minutes late, but was grateful to the other driver who got him to his destination.
After, Darryl contacted the company to inform them of what transpired on his original ride.
He hoped for an apology, but instead, Darryl said, he received just a "standard" form letter from Lyft assuring him the matter would be taken very seriously and that he would never be paired up with that driver again.
Darryl added that while he will continue to use ride-hailing services, he's displeased with Lyft's response to his complaint.
He said the company reached out to him again Friday morning, but would not discuss how they would be handling the driver involved.
“The driver – I hope he doesn’t work for that company again, I couldn’t believe that you would abandon somebody in the parking lot.” Darryl said. “That’s crazy.”
KTLA has reached out to Lyft for comment but has yet to hear back.