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Uber San Francisco Airport: Pickups and Dropoffs Explained

Learn what to expect when requesting an Uber to or from SFO. We'll cover pickup and drop-off locations, and tips to prepare yourself for a smooth ride.

Key Takeaways

  • Uber is available for pickups and drop-offs at San Francisco International Airport.
  • Designated Uber pickup areas differ by service type and terminal location.
  • A $5.50 fee is added to each Uber ride to and from the airport.
  • Consider booking Uber rides in advance to avoid delays and surge pricing.

Does San Francisco Airport Have Uber?

Uber offers rides from San Francisco International Airport, and the airport provides a designated area for pickup that is well-marked by signage leading from the terminal to the ride-sharing app pickup area.

You can schedule Uber up to thirty days in advance of the day and time you need a ride.

We suggest using this feature, as it makes for one less thing you must worry about on the day of your trip.

However, using Uber at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) involves familiarizing yourself with different pickup and drop-off procedures compared to other locations that stem from the airport’s regulations and transportation needs.

You’ll still use the same Uber app to request a ride, track your driver, and pay for your trip.

But this time, the logistics of utilizing the service are adjusted so that the flow of traffic within the airport remains efficient—you’ll have to head to designated locations to locate your Uber driver.

Learning how using Uber within SFO’s premises differs from other locations should be part of your next trip plan.

How Much Does Uber Cost at SFO?

Uber must pay SFO a $5.50 fee for every drop-off and pickup at the airport; that’s an extra charge you incur.

Besides this, your fare is calculated exactly as it would outside of SFO, factoring in the type of ride you request, trip duration, tolls, and demand.

Naturally, UberX is the cost-effective option, while Black, SUV, Comfort, and other lux options will set you back more.

How Does Uber Function at San Francisco Airport?

The key difference in pickup procedures between Uber at SFO and outside locations is the designated pickup zones.

You no longer have the flexibility to request to get picked up curbside at your location. Instead, you have to make your way to a specific designated pickup area, depending on your Uber service and terminal.

SFO has a total of four terminals. They are:

  • Harvey Milk Terminal 1 (B Gates)
  • Terminal 2 (C & D Gates)
  • Terminal 3 (E & F Gates)
  • International Terminal (A & G Gates)

You’ll need to pay attention to your boarding pass and airport signage to ensure you don’t get lost.

If you’re a first-time visitor, rest assured that SFO’s airport staff—and other passengers—will be more than happy to help you navigate the transportation hub’s premises.

Still, it’s a good idea to remember that an airside walkway connects terminals 1–3, so you can walk directly to yours without needing further transportation.

However, as an international passenger, the airport has an automated people mover, the AirTrain, which you may need to use.

It can transport you to any terminal, parking garage, or the BART station, and you can access it from the 4th floor of any terminal.

Locating Ride Pick-Ups

With Uber, your ride options range from the more cost-effective UberX and UberX Share to the more luxurious Uber Black and Uber SUV.

The convenience and comfort the more premium Uber rides bring are also evident in their designated locations—they’re easier to access at SFO.

Terminals 1–3

Uber

UberX requires you to walk to the 5th level of the domestic parking garage. It’s a multi-level structure, so besides being busy, especially during peak hours, it can be difficult to navigate for first-time visitors.

When you disembark your plane, follow the signs for “Baggage Claim” or “Ground Transportation.”

Your terminal number is on your boarding pass, but you can also look at airport signage to figure it out.

Once at your terminal, cross the pedestrian bridges and locate the signs for the “Domestic Parking Garage.” You can use the pedestrian bridges on level 3 of the terminals to access it.

When you’re there, take the elevator or escalators up to level 5.

You can check the Uber app or signage to locate the designated pickup zones.

The app will determine your location and assign you to zones B, C, D, E, or F, depending on your terminal, but you can still request a ride at any preferred pickup location by changing the pickup location or the zone altogether and ordering there.

They’re marked with signs that say “Rideshare Pickup” and have a letter and a number, such as “B2” or “D4.”

Note that you’ll need to enter these details while requesting a ride with Uber so that your driver can easily locate you.

Premium Uber

If you’ve requested any of the more luxurious Uber rides (Comfort, XL, Select, Black, and SUV), your designated pickup zone will be different. Your Uber driver will pick you up curbside on the departures level, which is located on the 2nd floor of terminals 1–3.

This area is more prone to congestion than the domestic garage, so to avoid traffic, you should request your ride in advance and let your driver know your exact location and estimated time of arrival.

When you hop off your plane, follow the signs for the “Departures Level.” Once you’re at your terminal, exit the building and locate the curb on the departures level.

The Uber app or signage can help you find the designated pickup zones, and they’re marked with signs that say “Rideshare Pickup” and have a terminal and a door number, such as “Terminal 2, Door 12.”

International Terminal

Things are slightly different for international passengers at SFO, to their advantage.

You can request any Uber option from the international terminal, and your driver will pick you up at the curbside on the center island of the departures level. You don’t need to head to the domestic parking garage at all, even with UberX.

Exit the arrivals level of the international terminal and clear the customs and immigration area; pick up your baggage from the baggage claim; and take the elevator or escalator up the departures level. Then, exit the building and locate the curb on the departures level.

Your designated pickup location will be marked with signs that say “Rideshare Pickup,” and instead of a terminal and door number this time, you’ll have to pay attention to zone numbers. For example, “Zone 14” or “Zone 15.”

Again, let your driver know about such details to avoid long wait times.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t forget about what you’ve flown in with. Uber luggage can be a bit of a pain, so plan for more space rather than less.

Locating Ride Drop-Offs

Your ride type is out of the question when you’re getting dropped off. Just let your driver know which airline you’re taking, and they’ll take you straight to the curbside at your airline’s respective departures level.

You can also go to the arrivals level or the domestic garage if you’re concerned about traffic conditions.

We suggest that you avoid cost-effective rideshare pooling options since they’re prone to unexpected delays and redirections—you might end up missing your flight.

What Else Should I Pay Attention To?

Besides the different pickup and drop-off locations, Uber functions within SFO exactly as it does outside of it.

However, some drivers might be more hesitant to pick up riders from airports in general, especially during peak times.

That aside, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind to ensure your journey doesn’t turn sour before you get to explore or leave San Francisco.

  • Download SFO’s Application: SFO’s application shows you flight numbers, terminals, cancellations, and the airport’s map. It can make navigating its premises and ensuring you don’t miss your flight much easier.
  • Book in Advance: Airports are busy, so be sure to reserve a ride in advance to avoid waiting times and surge pricing.
  • Estimate Your Arrival Time: SFO is huge, so inform your driver of your estimated arrival time and factor in the time it takes to reach the departures level or the domestic garage.
  • Communicate Well: Don’t forget to let your driver know which zone or pickup location you’re waiting at. It can make finding you infinitely easier.
  • Ask Around: Don’t hesitate to ask airport staff for assistance if you’re confused. They’re there to help!

Are There Any Alternatives?

Rideshare services and public transportation are a dime a dozen, so if Uber doesn’t cut it, you may consider heading to SFO through:

  • Use Lyft: Lyft is a viable alternative to Uber, and it’s subject to the same regulations SFO imposes. Compare Uber and Lyft here.
  • Use Wingz: Wingz offers scheduled, guaranteed rides ahead of important events, so it’s ideal if you want to arrive on time at all times.
  • Rent a Car: If you’d like to take control of your trip, you can rent a car through a peer-to-peer car rental platform like Turo for cheaper fares. But pay attention to car rental insurance and pick-up and drop-off conditions!
  • Use Public Transportation: Public transportation is underrated; give it a shot! If you’re in downtown San Francisco, you can use the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), SamTrans Routes 292 and 398, or Caltrain Commuter Rail to reach SFO. Let Google Maps guide you!

Final Thoughts

Finding your way around airports can be dreadful, more so when you throw catching a ride and not missing your flight into the equation, but it doesn’t need to be.

Make sure you stay in touch with your driver when you use Uber and respect your designated pick-up locations.

If, at any time, you feel confused, seek help from the airport’s staff or other passengers. Safe tripping!

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