Uber and Lyft Driver Instructions for San Diego International Airport (SAN)

Uber and Lyft Driver Instructions for San Diego International Airport (SAN)


There is A LOT of money to be made at San Diego airport.

More than 20 million passengers travel through the airport every year, making it one of the United State’s busiest airports… and these travelers need rides.

This means a gluttony of opportunity for rideshare drivers, IF you drive smart and know how to work the airport.

Well, we want every Uber and Lyft driver to bring in a boatload of cash for every shift they drive in the San Diego area, so we’ve put together a driver instructional guide to help Uber and Lyft drivers be successful at San Diego International Airport.

See the topics covered in this blog post below:

  1. What do I need to know or do before arriving at San Diego International Airport?
  2. Do I need a permit for San Diego International Airport?
  3. Where is the rideshare waiting area at San Diego International Airport?
  4. What are the passenger pick up rules at San Diego International Airport?
  5. What are the passenger drop off rules at San Diego International Airport?
  6. When is the best time to drive at San Diego International Airport?
  7. What is the best San Diego International Airport driving strategy?

What do I need to do before I arrive at  San Diego International Airport and enter the airport queue?

Step #1: Get your trade dress

Before you do anything as a rideshare driver in San Diego, you need to make sure that you have your trade dress. That goes double for the airport.

If you are seen picking up passengers with no trade dress at the airport, be prepared to receive a ticket of up to $500.

Luckily, it’s very easy to pick up your trade dress from any rideshare company.

To get your Uber Decal you can visit the local Greenlight Hub.

To get your Lyft Decal you can place an order on your dashboard. You can also print a temporary decal if you lose yours or are waiting for one to come in the mail.

Step #2: Know the airport regulations (and your permit if needed!)

May airports around the country will require a specific permit or tag to pick up passengers. San Diego International airport is NOT one of those airports.


But, threre are a few key rules that you must follow.

  1. Always keep one of your rideshare apps on at all times while on airport property
  2. Don’t wait in any other areas except the designated staging areas (see the map below). If you do, you wil likely receive a ticket of up to $500. Not worth the risk!
  3. Do not pick up passengers curbside at the terminal entrance
  4. Don’t feed the birds… Seriously. They cause issues with the flights.

Where is the Uber/Lyft waiting area at  San Diego International Airport?

The Uber and Lyft staging lots are locatd north of N Harbor Dr, directly to the right of Lindbergh Field Way. There are a few convienant signs that you can follow once you get close.

Note that this is not the cell phone lot. If you are in the cell phone lot there is a very good chance you’ll get kicked out of your queue. So be careful to stay in the correct lot!

Once you get the staging lot you’ll automatically be entered into the airport queue. It will be up to you to find a spot to wait. If you can’t find a spot to wait, you’re going to need to leave.

How should Uber and Lyft drivers pick up passengers at San Diego International Airport?

Pick ups for rideshare drivers at San Diego International Airport are a bit complicated so listen up. There are two pick up areas for rideshare drivers for terminals 1 and 2 respectively. Once your recieve a ride request, you’ll be instructed to meet your passenger at their designatd terminal.

However, when you enter either of the terminals you’ll need to grab a parking ticket to enter and wait for your passenger. Now, you will get 10-minutes free of charge, however it is only 10-minutes and Uber or Lyft is not going to reimburse you.

So instead of entering the terminal right away, contact your passenger and confirm they are ready to go. That way you won’t get caught waiting at the airport.

Check the pink areas on the map below to see where these designated areas are located.

Uber has launched a “pre-match” feature which basically tells drivers to leave the staging lot and head towards the terminals a few minutes early, before a ride request is actually received.

If you receive this message, head towards your pick up point but keep an eye on your app as you may not receive a request. I know, that’s annoying, but just drive back to the TNC staging lot and you’ll keep your place in line.

Also, note that you only have 10-minutes inside the terminals, so try to not go inside until you confirm your ride.

How should Uber and Lyft drivers drop off passengers at San Diego International Airport?

Dropping off passengers at San Diego International Airport is easy. You can simply drop passengers off at their requested carrier and that’s it! No special rules here.

When is the best time to drive at San Diego International Airport?

San Diego International airport is incredibly busy all year round, so there is always going to be opportunity for rideshare drivers no matter what time of year it is. However, you’re not the only driver that knows that. So there are usually quite a few drivers at the airport.

So the best time to drive at SAN is when the ratio of passengers to drivers is at its absolute highest.

To understand when this ratio is highest, check your Gridwise app and compare queue times to passenger arrival times.

There are of course certain times of year that receive more passengers like Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, and the Saturday before big football games (Go Chargers!), however, the best way to understand rider demand at your airport is with Gridwise.

What airport strategy to use at San Diego International?

Pick up a passenger on the way to the airport!

Don’t just be a driver that picks up passengers at the airport! Also pick them up when they are heading to the airport. Gridwise does a great job of telling you when there is also a peak in airport departures, so you can hang around near hotels at that time to maximize your chances of an airport ride.

Do not cancel on a passenger after you’ve accepted a fare

If you do, you will be bumped to the bottom of the queue and your wait starts all over again. The good news is that if it’s a short ride, some companies let you jump back in line after you’ve dropped that passenger off.

Look out for your short ride bump

After waiting for some time at the airport for a passenger, there is nothing worse than getting a ride that’s 5-minutes away. That’s why the major rideshare companies have some form of a short ride bump that allows you to jump back into the front of the line if you get a very short ride request.

To take advantage of a short ride bump, simply complete your short ride and look out for a text message or in-app message that gives you the option to head back to the TNC lot for a preferred spot in the queue.

Always be prepared

You never know when law enforcement will show up, so always keep your driver’s license, insurance card, and registration handy. And don’t forget to have your placard displayed.

Now you should be ready to make that drive to SAT and actually earn money instead of snacking on candy from Sunoco. I’m not the only one who does that, right?


Related Posts

Download Gridwise today

For iOS and Android

Save up to 50¢ per gallon with Gridwise Gas!

Spending a lot at the gas pump?

Gridwise users can save up to 50¢ per gallon with Gridwise Gas.