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The completely correct guide to who you should drive to the airport


(Delphine Lee for The Washington Post)

Because we’re living in a society where we’re supposed to act civilized, we’re often called on to do selfless deeds for the sake of humanity, or whatever. We go to parties we don’t want to go to. We help our friends move. We escort our family to routine appointments. These mundane tasks aren’t mandatory, but we do them anyway.

Giving people rides to and from the airport falls under this neighborly umbrella. Despite the existence of public transportation, ride-hailing apps, traditional taxis and shuttle services, a lot of us are still schlepping loved ones between arrivals and departures.

If you have a car, taking someone to the airport or picking them up from one is an act of love. A gift. It may be one of the last nice things we have. But we’re not just throwing this kindness around. You have to earn such a demonstration of tenderness.

Who makes the cut? We look at the people who deserve a ride, and the people who can take a hike.

(Note: These rules are generally applicable to situations where public transportation, taxis or taxi-like services are available as an alternative to a personal ride.)


Sometimes. It depends on a number of things. Are they traveling alone? Are they tech-savvy? Independent? Did you see them recently, or is this a momentous reunion? Are you a short trip from the airport, or some-hour-and-a-half’s-worth-of-traffic away? Some parents wouldn’t mind taking a taxi or Uber car to make their flight, while others might be deeply offended that their children could possibly betray them so. Suss out your parental figures’ vibe and make that call with their feelings in mind. They did raise you, after all.


Probably, but this comes down to age. Are they still under your roof and under your rules? Give them a ride, obviously. Is your child old enough to be trading bitcoin and waxing poetic about the flavor profile of a Japanese whisky? Then you’re not required to chauffeur your offspring to the airport (unless you feel like it). You’ve already paid your dues.


Huge yes. When a man I’d been dating for two months insisted on picking me up from the airport (LAX, no less. From the east side!), I felt that a signal had been sent: This person is special. Dating in the third millennium had not normally yielded such acts of chivalry for me.

If you’re still in the process of wooing a love interest, or in the thick of a honeymoon phase, take your significant other to the airport. You’ll get that last passionate moment before they tumble out onto the curb at departures or have a movie-worthy embrace when they walk out from arrivals.


Sometimes. Because couples all have unique relationship styles, this category can be approached in a number of ways. Are you chaotically busy? Tasked with taking care of children at home? Up to your eyeballs in deadlines? Your long-term partner will probably understand that while romance is still important in a relationship, the realities of life come first, and it may be easier on everyone to get a ride from another source.

On the other hand, do you guys do everything together? Are you long-distance part-time — or full-time? Are you in a renew-your-vows kind of phase, with a rekindled sense of love and adoration? Make time for that airport pickup or drop-off.


No. Consider this payback for that time your sibling locked you in that closet when you were a kid. Or that other time they locked you in a different closet.


Yes. You should take your grandparent to the airport. The idea of stuffing your most elderly relations into a cab seems cruel and cold. These are the people who slipped you a crisp $5 in your birthday card. They sneaked you treats behind your parents’ backs. Or maybe they weren’t the sugary-sweet archetype, instead instilling in you great wisdom or tough love. Either way, respect your elders and give those silver foxes a ride.


Depends. This relationship falls under the quid pro quo category. If your aunt picked you up from the Cincinnati airport to drive you all the way to West Chester, do her a solid when she comes to town if she’d like a ride. Are we talking about your third cousin’s husband? Put down the keys.


Probably. Are you still trying to make a good impression on these people? Giving them a ride to the airport is a pro move.


Absolutely not. If you’re still calling this person your co-worker and not your friend, consider that a sign that you do not need to give this person a ride. In fact, if your co-worker is insane enough to ask for a lift to the airport, you should probably call HR.


Yes and no. Did your best friend fly in to visit you? Are you saying goodbye for an indefinite period of time? That ride to or from the airport is rife with opportunity for shenanigans and bonding. It’s a chance to squeeze out last minutes together, to reference eight more inside jokes, sing along to your favorite songs, laugh until you’re both crying — but not crying so hard that you can’t see the road. You’re driving, remember?! However, this is also your best friend we’re talking about. They’d probably considerately accept your weak excuses, like you’re too hung over on the morning of their departure, or that traffic getting to the airport from your work is heinous.

The real secret of giving someone an airport ride is this: You’re not really doing them a favor, you’re doing yourself a favor. Once you make that pickup or drop-off, you receive the self-satisfaction that comes from being a good Samaritan. Doing things for other people feels amazing. It’s your chance to channel Mother Teresa or Oprah or your other preferred saintly role model. Whatever hassle or inconvenience you have to face to get someone to their flight on time will add good karma to the bank. Do the favor, and bask in the glow of doing good.

Have a favorite airport-ride story? Share it in the comments below, or tweet it to @natbco.

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