Information for drivers
Learn how dropping off and picking up airport riders works at SFO.
Airport regulations for drivers
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. As a reminder, 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).
- The Uber vehicle sticker must always be displayed on the front passenger windshield and rear passenger windshield facing outward. The unique airport placard must be displayed beneath the front trade dress. Drivers can request this Uber decal online or at their local Greenlight Hub. You may receive a citation or have your access to the airport revoked by SFO for not displaying your Uber sticker and unique airport placard while on airport property
- Drivers will receive the airport placard upon signup.
- If your placard has expired, you can request for a new one by filling out this form.
- There’s a special system where the first vehicle in is the first one out (FIFO) at San Francisco International Airport. The FIFO system only works within the designated, geofenced area. Drivers waiting elsewhere may not receive trip requests through the Driver app.
- TNC drivers may wait for airport requests at either of the airport’s TNC Waiting Lots, at any time except 3 AM – 5 AM nightly. The first waiting lot is located at the corner of E. Millbrae Ave and S. McDonnell Rd. The other lot is located directly next to the Cell Phone Waiting Lot near the intersection of San Bruno Ave. and N. McDonnell Rd.
SFO requires TNC drivers to leave airport property immediately if both staging lots are full. Waiting for a pickup request anywhere on airport property other than designated staging lots mentioned above may incur monetary fines or revocation of access from the airport
For Terminals 1-3, riders can be dropped off on either the Departures Level or Arrivals Level. For the International Terminal, riders can be dropped off at the center island between Zones 14 and 17.
- You may be asked to show your waybill. To access it, tap the Waybill button that appears in your app.
- Driver cancellations: Trip cancellations can take away from the 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; the airport may impose fines or penalties for not following the instructions of airport staff.
- When picking up passengers, if you wait too long at the terminal, airport officials will write a citation and send it to Uber, and we will collect the money from you. Unlike in the case of civilian drivers, airport officials will not tap on your window first and ask you to move.
- Any vehicle that stops in a crosswalk (even briefly) is liable to be cited.
- 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.
Pickups and dropoffs at the airport
How pickup requests work
It’s easy to receive trip requests from riders leaving SFO 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.
Based on the operating agreement with the airport, there are 2 waiting lots available for TNC drivers. The first is located at the corner of E. Millbrae Ave. and S. McDonnell Rd. The other can be found directly next to the Cell Phone Waiting Lot near the intersection of San Bruno Ave. and N. McDonnell Rd.
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 people driving with Uber 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 multiple rides (if the rider cancels, you should remain at the top of the queue)
Picking up your rider
Once you accept a trip request, the pickup location for Terminals 1-3 is located at Level 5 of the Domestic Garage. Once you get to the garage entrance:
- The far left lane—labeled "Limo / Lyft / Uber Only"—is designated for rideshare drivers to enter the garage; the bar at the entry will be lifted, and no ticket is needed.
- The pickup area is on Level 5 of the garage. You can wait for your rider in any of the stalls dedicated to drivers; each terminal has a dedicated parking stall.
- Each terminal has its own pickup zones. Zones B and C can be used for pickups from Terminal 1, Zones D and E can be used for pickups from Terminal 2, and Zones F and G can be used for pickups from Terminal 3.
Comfort, XL, Select, UberBlack, SUV
- Starting November 20, 2019: Uber Comfort, UberXL, Select, UberBlack and SUV pickups can occur at the curbside of Terminals 1-3. Pickups for these ride options can also take place in the Domestic Garage.
International Terminal pickups
International Terminal pickups remain on the center island at the Departures Level from Zones 14 to 17.
Rematch is on for all options, so you may receive a pickup request immediately after you drop off a rider at the terminal.
How dropoff requests work
Uber can be a reliable option for travelers heading to the airport.
Based on the operating agreement with the airport, riders can be dropped off at their requested terminal on the Departures Level, or on the Arrivals Level at white zones, for Terminals 1-3. For the International Terminal, riders can be dropped off at the center island between Zones 14 and 17. Per airport regulations, drivers must leave their app on until they exit the airport property. If you’d like to receive a trip request afterward, you can keep the Driver app on to maintain your place in the FIFO queue.
SFO pickup maps
Helpful tips for airport trips
1. Getting your car ready
Air travelers can have lots of luggage with them, so you may want to free up trunk space to fit it all in.
2. Helping with luggage
It may take some time for riders to load their luggage into your vehicle. The airport is a busy place, so an extra set of hands can speed things up and help get your riders to their destination faster.
3. Identifying your riders
Asking your riders for their names before starting a trip can help ensure that you’ve picked up the right person out of the crowd.
4. Checking the arrivals schedule
Checking the arrivals schedule at San Francisco International Airport can help you maximize your earnings with information about when flights will be landing at the airport and when it will be busiest. See SFO arrivals schedule.
5. Making music optional
While tunes are nice to cruise to, riders may prefer silence after an early-morning or late-night flight. Asking them what they prefer can go a long way and help provide a great experience.
Frequently asked questions
Thank you for looking into your citation further. You can refer to the following section for some of the most frequently asked questions around airport citations.
- I don’t ever remember being cited. Do I still have to pay?
Yes, you still have to pay the citation. SFO officers do not issue citations directly to Uber drivers. This means that they won’t approach you at the airport at the time of the violation to write you a ticket. Instead, they observe a violation, write a ticket, and send the ticket to Uber. Uber then uses the information on the citation—license plate, driver name, vehicle, and time—to notify you, the driver. Uber then collects the payment from your earnings.
- This citation happened many months ago. Is it still valid?
Yes, even though the citation may be from many months ago, it is still valid. Uber is only able to process these citations once we receive them from SFO and it often takes SFO several months to send them over to us. We realize the inconvenience of this delay and hope to improve the turnaround time in the future.
- How do I pay the ticket?
No action is needed on your part to pay the ticket. The airport bills Uber directly for citations and Uber then collects the amounts from driver earnings statements. After receiving a notification email, you will see the fine deducted from your next earnings statement.
- I was cited at the airport during my first week driving with Uber. I wasn’t aware of the rules. Do I still have to pay?
Unfortunately, yes. Even during your first weeks driving with Uber, you are responsible for knowing and understanding rules at the airport. We understand the airport can be an overwhelming experience at first, so it can be helpful to review the SFO rules and regulations before heading to the airport for trips.
- I was cited for staging. What does this mean?
A staging citation means that you were waiting either in the incorrect location or for too long of a time. According to airport regulations, you must stage in the specified TNC Staging Lot when waiting for a pickup and you should only head out of the Staging Lot when you have a pickup request. Once you arrive at the terminal, it’s best not to wait more than a couple minutes for your rider. Unlike when you pick up a friend at the airport, SFO Officers do not tap on your window to move. They will only write a citation and send it to Uber, and we will be forced to collect.
- I was at the airport at the time of this violation; however, I was not driving with Uber. I was picking up a friend or family member and was not online. Do I still have to pay?
If you were not online and driving with Uber at the time of the citation, you are eligible to dispute the citation. To do so, you can submit your information at the link below.
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