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Driving at John Wayne Airport (SNA)

Airports can be complicated places, especially for drivers. But knowing the basics, and getting information in advance about your local airport, can help make sure you’re prepared for your first pickup or dropoff.

Airport regulations

Per airport regulations, drivers must adhere to the terms below. Failure to do so may result in the receipt of a citation or even restriction of access to airport trips. Please note that Uber will not pay for any citations that drivers may incur.

  • When on airport property, the Driver app must be open at all times (drivers must not go offline until exiting the airport area).
  • We’ve instituted a special “first vehicle in is the first one out” (FIFO) system at John Wayne Airport. The FIFO system only works within the designated geofenced area; drivers waiting elsewhere will not receive trip requests through the Driver app unless there are no drivers in the geofenced queue.
  • The Uber vehicle decal (trade dress) must always be displayed on the front passenger windshield and rear passenger windshield facing outward. Drivers can obtain this Uber decal at their local Greenlight Hub or fill out this form to receive one by mail.
  • No airport permit is necessary for non-commercial vehicles.

It is illegal under state and federal law for anyone, including rideshare drivers, to engage in price fixing. This includes agreeing or coordinating with other drivers (in airport staging lots or elsewhere) on pricing and surge pricing. The law requires that drivers must make decisions about pricing and surge pricing on their own.

Pro tips

  • Driver cancellations: Trip cancellations can take away from the great Uber experience that riders and drivers expect. Please remember that drivers who improperly use the app and intentionally disrupt the service, including excessively canceling rides or asking riders to cancel rides, may lose the ability to receive trip requests to and from the airport through the Driver app.
  • Ground transportation and airport security staff: Airport rules are as important as traffic rules. Airports expect drivers to follow the instructions of the airport staff.

Pickups at the airport

It’s easy to receive trip requests from riders leaving the airport. However, these trips work a little differently than other requests.

Waiting for requests

Uber’s technology uses a first-in, first-out (FIFO) queue. This means that, in order to receive a trip request, you need to enter the designated waiting area, located within a FIFO zone. You will then be placed in a virtual queue where the first driver to enter will be the first to receive a trip request.

The designated FIFO zone for airport pickup requests is inside the area bordered by MacArthur Blvd., I-405, Von Karman Avenue, and Route 73.

Some things to know about FIFO queues:

  • Proximity to the terminal within the FIFO zone does not create an advantage for drivers or move you closer to the top of the queue
  • If there are no drivers in the FIFO zone, trip requests will go to drivers in the area—outside of the FIFO zone—based on proximity and other factors
  • You can lose your place in line if:
    • You go offline on your Driver app
    • You drive outside the FIFO zone
    • You do not accept multiple incoming trip requests in a row
    • You cancel a ride (if the rider cancels, you will remain at the top of the queue)

Picking up your rider

Once you accept an UberX, UberXL, or Select trip request, head to the Departures Level. The pickup locations at the airport are on Level 3 of each terminal’s designated parking structure. You can meet riders at:

  • Parking Structure A2, near the Level 3 elevators, for Terminal A
  • Parking Structure B2, near the Level 3 exit, for Terminal B
  • Parking Structure C, near the Level 3 elevators, for Terminal C

To pick up riders at their terminal’s designated parking structure:

  • Drive to the Departures Level roadway.
  • Follow the in-app instructions and airport signage to enter the parking structure for your rider’s terminal.
  • Pull a ticket to enter the parking structure and park in the designated area for pickups. Any vehicles that pull a ticket and enter the lot are required to pay $1 if in the lot under 30 minutes. And remember, Uber does not pay for or reimburse any parking costs.
  • Insert your ticket and, if applicable, pay the $1 to exit.
  • Exit the airport and drop off your rider at their final destination.

We recommend calling your rider to confirm their location to make it easier for you to find each other. Uber Black and Uber Black SUV pickups are curbside on the Arrivals Level.

Learn more about pickups at SNA

Dropoffs at the airport

Based on the operating agreement with the airport, riders can be dropped off at the Departures Level. If you’d like to receive a trip request afterward, you’ll need to keep the Driver app on to maintain your place in the FIFO queue.

Rematch feature

We’ve also launched the Rematch feature at this airport. To qualify for Rematch, drivers must first complete a dropoff at the airport. Rematch then allows any driver who just completed an airport dropoff to temporarily receive a pickup request without having to go to the waiting area.

Once you drop off at the airport, if you wish, you can head toward the waiting area to wait in the FIFO queue for an airport request. Upon navigation to the waiting area, you may receive a Rematch request within a 30-second window.

Airport regulations prohibit loitering in the terminal area, so idling at the curb may result in a citation from airport authorities.

Staging information

Based on the operating agreement with SNA, the waiting area is located in the area bordered by MacArthur Blvd., I-405, Von Karman Avenue, and Route 73 (see map).

  • The waiting area does not include the terminal loop consisting of John Wayne Airport Roadway and North Airport Way, nor the Cell Phone Waiting Lot located at the corner of MacArthur Blvd. and Campus Drive.
  • You will not receive any requests if you wait in the terminal loop, John Wayne Airport parking structures, or Cell Phone Waiting Lot. You may be subject to citation if found waiting for trip requests on airport property.