How to use Uber at the San Diego Airport (caution: it’s a bit different)

How to use Uber at the San Diego Airport (caution: it’s a bit different)

Getting to and from the San Diego Airport using Uber is two completely different experiences. Getting to the airport is the easy part. It’s the process of hailing an Uber which can have you cussing like a constipated drill sergeant.

  • Drop offs: There is no designated drop off area for Uber when arriving at the airport. Simply tell the driver which airline or terminal you’re departing from (or include that information when booking a ride), and they will drop you off right at the main entrance closest to your airline.
  • Pick ups: Both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 have designated ride share pick up locations. The process for getting an Uber is quite different for both, so pay close attention to the following overview!

How Uber works at San Diego International Airport

Due to ongoing construction of the all new Terminal 1 rebuild, getting an Uber in Terminal 2 will be easier. It may not be any less stressful, but at least you won’t have to venture down any sketchy (and dark) walkways.

Terminal 2

Proceed to the rideshare pick up location located on the ground level directly across from the terminal. If you’re not quite seeing it, just look for the taxi stand (and all the cab drivers standing around looking desperate for a fare). It’s adjacent to that.

Crossing the street at the San Diego airport to catch an uber terminal 2 West
Arrivals level, Terminal 2. Cross the street to reach the ridshare pickup area. Don’t worry: San Diego drivers are kind and courteous (mostly).
Following the signs to the ride app pickup area San Diego airport
Assuming you didn’t get trucked crossing the road just now, follow the signs for “Ride App Pickup”. See how easy this is?
Uber and Lyft pick up area San Diego Airport terminal 2 West
You’ve arrived! Welcome to the chaotic home of Uber (and Lyft) at Terminal 2 / SAN.

Once you’ve arrived at the Uber pickup location, use the app to initiate a ride just as you normally would. Have patience! It’ll probably take a few minutes to secure a ride at peak times.

When a driver has been assigned to you, take note of the instructions on the screen. The app will tell you which column to stand next to as you wait for him or her to arrive. Trust me – the assigned column thing reduces a lot of the frustration (for both the driver and you) when things are really busy.

Instructions on where to meet Uber driver terminal 2 west San Diego Airport
“Meet at Terminal 2, Column A (Transportation Island).” Alrighty then!
San Diego airport Uber column letters
For those of you who have a habit of getting lost in your own home, fear not. Not only can you find the letters on the columns themselves…
San Diego airport Uber pylons with letters terminal 2
…there are associated pylons with the letters printed on them as well. Stand here and wait for your chariot to arrive. Praying that your driver isn’t a total d**k is optional.
SANspotter in uber san diego airport H
Success! Although the disgruntled look on my face seems to imply that I vowed never to do that again, I was back at it two weeks later. Why is quitting Uber so dang hard?

Terminal 1

At the time of this writing (late 2023), the Uber situation for Terminal 1 at SAN is a mess. There’s an all new T1 being built, and the entire area outside of the existing Terminal 1 is a giant construction zone.

Making things even more complicated is the fact that what I’m about to show you is likely to change within a few months. Therefore, I’ll show you some pics of what the situation is like now, and then update again when things inevitably change…

Crossing the street to ground transportation terminal 1 San Diego airport
The Uber pickup area at Terminal 1 is located directly across the street (near the exit from baggage claim). Sort of – just follow the signs for Ground Transportation and hope for the best.
SANspotter walking to Uber pick up area terminal 1 San Diego airport
You like walking, right? You’ll almost need an Uber to get to your Uber!
Signs for Taxi & Ride App terminal 1 San Diego airport
Follow the signs for “Taxi & Ride App.” Cuss if you must.
Uber and Lyft pickup area terminal one San Diego airport
There it is! Uber is on the right and Lyft is on the left. Hopefully the situation will get better as the construction for the all new Terminal 1 progresses. Stay tuned…

San Diego Airport Uber FAQs

Hopefully everything that I’ve shown and described above gives you a pretty good sense of how to use Uber at the San Diego Airport. However, in order to make sure I’m covering all the bases, I thought it might be a good idea to list out a few FAQs as well:

How long of a walk is it from the Terminal (1 or 2) to the designated rideshare pick up area?

Less than 2 minutes (walking at an average pace) from the baggage claim exit of Terminal 2, and about 5 minutes from Terminal 1. Double that if you’ve got multiple angry toddlers (and large suitcases) in tow.

How much does an UberX typically cost from the airport to downtown?

It varies slightly depending on the time of day (surge pricing is a thing), but you can typically expect to pay $10-$15 for a ride into downtown.

How much does it cost for a ride to La Jolla / University City?

In my experience, it usually costs anywhere from $35-$50. Note that I used to pay upwards of $40 one-way for a taxi ride going the same distance. Uber isn’t any cheaper!

Will drivers be upset with you for taking a short ride just off airport property?

In my experience, yes. They will be. Since it can sometimes be a very long wait for drivers to reach the designated pick up area, it should be totally understandable that they would be miffed to get paired up with a rider who only needs to go a couple miles.

For what it’s worth, I’d recommend taking a taxi if you don’t need to go far. This will prevent an angry driver from giving you a bad rating.

What about other services such as Uber Black or Uber Pool? What is the process / procedure for using other Uber services from San Diego Airport?

At the time of this writing, all Uber ride types operate just the same as I described above.  

Comments (8)

  1. TSov

    January 15, 2020
    • SANspotter

      January 16, 2020
  2. Lilian Holmes

    July 14, 2021
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      July 14, 2021
  3. James

    December 4, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      December 4, 2023
      • James

        December 17, 2023
        • Scott (SANspotter)

          December 18, 2023

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