To pick up in Philadelphia, you must have Philadelphia as primary location. (April 2018)
The general rule is that the driver can only pick up in his or her own territory. Therefore, if you ever drive a passenger out of your territory, you have to be worried about having a "dead trip", where you will have no rider until you return.
However, If your home territory is New Jersey, you should be under Uber's exception to pick up in surrounding territories/states, such as Pennsylvania and Delaware. You mention you picked up the passenger in Princeton, NJ. I assume that is your home city (where you are registered with Uber) (Update on 8/2/2018 with Uber's new arrangement with Philly.)
Until recently, if you were registered in New Jersey, you were able to pick up in surrounding territories/states, such as Pennsylvania and Delaware. However, as of April 2018, Uber has an agreement with the city of Philadelphia, and the local regulation dictates that you must be registered in Philadelphia to receive requests in Philadelphia. This enforcement indeed began in April. The below is a communication that went out to some drivers in New Jersey, which sheds light on what happened. (Please note that this is from a driver, and it has not been verified with Uber.)
"To comply with local regulations, drivers who wish to do trips starting in Philadelphia must have Philadelphia as the primary city on their Uber driver account."
"By switching to Philadelphia, you’ll continue to receive trip requests in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware as well; however, if you choose to continue as a New Jersey partner, you will only get requests for trips beginning in New Jersey."
Here's where it gets interesting. There are conflicting reports from New Jersey drivers on how Uber sent out the communication. Take a look at some of the claims from these drivers:
- Some drivers received a notification from Uber with an offer to change the primary city (i.e. registered location) to Philadelphia.
- Some drivers received a notification from Uber saying that their primary city has been changed to Philadelphia.
- Some drivers did not receive any notification but noticed that their primary city was updated to Philadelphia.
Seeing the above, it's possible that Uber may be consoslidating the New Jersey and Philadelphia markets, by having all of the drivers be compliant to Philly's regulations. This way, all drivers get to continue to drive for both locations and in both directions. (This is only our speculation, however.)
So, perhaps you could request Uber to change your home location to Philadelphia? Since Philadelphia drivers can also drive in New Jersey, this may solve the problem you outlined. I wondered what other impacts there may be, such as losing the NJ promotinos or not being able to drive in northern states like NY and CT, but upon asking a few drivers, that does not seem to be the case.
If your home location is Philadelphia and you still cnnot be online at PHL airport, take a look at the following possibilities:
1) PA Inspection? Philadelphia now requires Uber drivers to pass the PA vehicle inspection on an annual basis. The documentation need to be uploaded to Uber through the app or the website. I have not heard this to apply to vehicles from outside Pennsylvania; however, perhaps the enforcement became more strict in the recent days. If you have a NJ plate, you cannot get PA inspection; however, you may need an inspection in NJ to be uploaded properly. You may want to contact Uber for the specifics.
2) Airport queue too long? At PHL airport, drivers are placed into FIFO queue and will wait for their turn to arrive. You will see your place in line, i.e. how many cars are in front of you. We have other drivers report that when the queue becomes too long, the app wil no longer display the number of vehicles in the queue, in order to discourage more drivers from entering the queue.
It does not seem this is what happened to you. However, other drivers have complained about not being able to enter the queue, while they actually were.
3) Must Stay Online at Airports - Geofencing. Uber has a strict rule that you must remain online the whole time the you are on airport premises. This is seen as Uber's attempt to discourage loitering (which can cost the driver a violation), but it is also to make sure the driver is entered into the queue properly.
There have been reports that if you go offline while on an airport premise, not only would you lose your spot in the queue, but you also cannot get back online within the Uber's app. When this happens, you must leave the airport's premise (i.e. exit the geofenced area of the airport), go online, and then re-enter.
- Uber's comment son picking up at PHL: https://www.uber.com/drive/philadelphia/airports/phlairport/
- Inspection Rules of PA: https://www.uber.com/drive/philadelphia/inspections/
Uber Driver, CEO of TaxiFareFinder and Unleashed, LLC