Uber is known, and mostly loved, for its on-demand ridesharing service. Need a lift? Launch the Uber app on your smartphone, and within minutes a car and driver will be idling at the curb, at your service.
What Uber didn’t offer was the option of booking in advance, for a pickup at a designated day, time, and location. Pre-scheduled rides simply weren’t on Uber’s corporate mind, or on the company’s menu of services. But they’re coming.
According to the company:
Sometimes you want to schedule a pickup in advance so you can rest assured an Uber will be available when you need it, especially if it’s for a 4 a.m. ride to the airport. With Scheduled Rides you can request your Uber 30 days to 30 minutes ahead of time and have the comfort of knowing your Uber will be there when it’s time to head out.
Scheduled Rides are booked normally, via the Uber app, by selecting the additional details of date, time, and pickup location. Customers will receive reminders 24 hours and 30 minutes in advance, and be warned if surge pricing will be in effect for the scheduled ride.
Rides may be cancelled at any time before the car is dispatched, and up to five minutes after the car is dispatched, with no cancellation penalty.
As we’ve come to expect from Uber, it’s all very simple and seamless.
The new service launched this week, in Seattle, with plans to launch in “other top business travel cities” at unspecified dates. For now, it’s only available to Uber for Business customers.
The initial focus on business travelers makes sense, given the most likely customers for the new service. On its website, Uber uses the example of booking a 4 a.m. ride to the airport. That’s apt: Airport transfers are certain to be one of the most common uses for Scheduled Rides.
Scheduled rides have traditionally been the exclusive province of car-hire companies. As taxi operators have discovered, competition from Uber will rock their world.
Reader Reality Check
How will you use Uber’s Scheduled Rides when the service is made available in your city?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.