Select Uber services legally accessible via United Airlines app 

Travelers to The City now have the option of hailing Uber rides via the United Airlines app -- but the same rules apply at San Francisco International Airport, meaning the popular UberX platform is still illegal.

The airline's app partnership with Uber, which launched Wednesday, provides United customers with iPhone and Android phones wait-time and price information for Uber's black car and SUV vehicles, which have state transportation charter-party carrier licenses and permission to pick up passengers at SFO. Once a customer selects a ride, the United app routes to the Uber app to finalize the arrangement.

Meanwhile, the app does not block customers at SFO from requesting drivers with UberX, the popular transportation network service platform in which drivers use their personal vehicles.

"I'm not sure that the UA app would make it easier per se, but we certainly don't want the app to create a false expectation that this service is currently permitted at SFO because it is not," airport spokesman Doug Yakel said regarding UberX.

SFO officials sent the app-based ride-service companies cease-and-desist letters and have been giving drivers verbal admonishments for pickups and dropoffs.

Uber, along with competitors Lyft and Sidecar, in May sent a letter to Mayor Ed Lee asking him to intervene in negotiations with SFO for picking up passengers.

SFO has been in discussions, and face-to-face meetings, with five transportation network companies including UberX, Lyft and Sidecar. In April, all five companies were sent the airport's TNC permit, Yakel said, and discussions are ongoing. The permit would be the same for all.

"We are working closely with airport authorities across California to address the need to update permitting requirements in a manner that addresses the unique nature of ridesharing," Eva Behrand, spokeswoman for Uber's western region, said in an emailed statement.

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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