Passengers are dropped at the Airport Departure (upper), Level in the same manner as any other non-Airport location.

Passengers may not be picked-up on the upper level. To obtain a fare at the Airport, you follow the exit road from the Airport but take the turn-off that is marked DOMESTIC TERMINALS. Once you have found that sign, look for the sign marked HOURLY PARKING. Among the parking lanes, search for the TAXI ONLY sign.
 
THE 7:00 AM – 1:00 AM SYSTEM

For the hours of 7:00 AM through 1:00 AM the Airport operates a three-lot parking system that leads to the taxi stands where fares can be picked-up. In order to access this system you must first obtain an SFO Taxicab Smart Card from 1-650-821-2704.

For the remaining hours, the Airport runs a simplified system that permits direct access to the taxi stands (see below) and doe not require a Smart Card.

At machine at the TAXI ONLY gate you touch the Smart Card against the screen to enter the system).

The taxi lane(s) lead into the parking areas. As you go down the ramp and then exit , you might see ahead on your right hand side, the nose of a taxi.

This means that the Third Lot (Parking Area A/B), is being used and you should turn right and join the end of the line. This is the most likely situation for most periods at the Airport.

As a very rough rule of thumb, your goal as a driver should be to gross, $300.00 for each ten-hour shift. After you pay your expenses, you'll have roughly $150.00 for yourself. Your expected fare from the airport is $45.00. Given that you have to earn $30.00 per hour to reach your target, roughly an hour and a half should be the amount of time you are willing to wait for at the airport.

When you pull into the parking lot system, ask the first person how long is the wait. The answer will determine whether you should stay or leave.

If the airport is not busy, you can exit to 101.

If the Airport seems busy, join the gang

If there is no taxi visible, to your right make the first available left turn and join the end of the line in the Center Lot.

Talk with other Taxi drivers about their Airport strategies. Conditions vary markedly between shifts and companies.

In the Center Lot, there is an “Add Value Machine” which permits you to record additional value on your “Smart Card”. Each time you pick-up a fare at the Airport, and you are not a “Short”, you must pay $4.00. This fee is deducted from your Smart Card when you swipe the card in front of the cashier machine.

There is a $2.00 Airport exit fee that you can charge to passengers departing from the Airport (see details written on the passenger's door). If the Center Lot is empty, proceed around the right-most lane and out the exit (by the Dispatcher’s station), turn left and proceed toward the cashier machines.

Enter the Green Lot (F/G), and join the end of the line. Don’t follow the SHORTS.
The Dispatcher at the exit of the Green Lot determines the point at which you will leave this Lot and proceed to one of the Taxi Stands.

If you are going to the Domestic Terminal(s), this Dispatcher, will wave you forward. If instead, the Dispatcher gives you a pink ticket, you will go to the International Terminal. Chances are you will not be the first car in line (cars are dispatched in-groups of five with each bell calling for five cars), so just follow the car in front of you. If by chance you are the first car in-line, and you’re a bit confused, tell the Dispatcher you’re a new driver and he'll help you out.

As the Dispatcher sends cars to the stands, there is a melding of the Shorts line (see "Shorts" below) and the rest of the taxis. The Dispatcher usually sends up two Shorts for every car that is waiting for their initial fare.

If you are dispatched to Terminal 1 and as you arrive, the Dispatcher there "waves you on," proceed around to the Terminal 3.

If you are sent to International, proceed around the domestic terminal loop, head toward Route 101 (green signs) and take the far, right exit ramp (blue sign) for the International.

Domestic: After you pick-up your fare, and just before you exit SFO, there is a silvery-white booth on the far left lane. You must stop there and swipe your card against the exit machines.

International: When you pull up to the taxi stand, hand your pink ticket to the Dispatcher. After picking up your fare, you must swipe your Smart Card at the machines by the stand. This procedure is a bit cumbersome but it’s required if you are going to qualify for a “Short”.

If with-in thirty minutes, you can drop your fare and return to the machine at the entrance to the system, this allows you to join the "Shorts."

 
THE SHORTS



Being one of the Shorts allows you to jump most of the queue and quickly pick-up a new fare.

You proceed into the Center Lot, drive around right edge to the Dispatcher’s station and swipe your card against the machine. If the overhead sign reads “Short”, the Dispatcher will give you a white ticket. You proceed to the cashier machines and swipe your card. The barrier will rise but no chard will be made to your card. .. If you happened to get a second Short, there is a $2.00 charge, and the cashier will hand you a receipt. If you do not qualify for a “Short” you must join the end of the “Long” line or leave the Airport.

 
THE 1:00 AM - 7:00 AM SYSTEM

From 1:00 AM until 7:00 AM a taxi can proceed directly to the taxi stands. Few flights arrive after Mid-Night and/or prior 7:30AM. There are only a limited number of spaces are available and the competition for space can be intense. In the mornings, spaces on the stands typically fill prior to 5:30 AM.

If waiting for fares during the 1:00 AM to 7:00 AM period, you may park ONLY in the red and yellow striped taxi stands. Even having a small part of your taxi outside of this area may result in a ticket from the Airport Police. Being outside of and/or leaving your taxi during this time can also result in a ticket. Since the waiting period maybe around two hours, one should try to take care of biological necessities prior to coming to the Airport. If this is not possible, ask the other drivers: Where’s the nearest bathrooms? Try to make your bathroom journey as quickly as is possible; in order to minimize your chances of receiving a $25.00 or $50.00 parking ticket.

There are no Shorts during the 1:00AM to 7:00 AM period.