Uber is often my ride of choice to the airport. Readers have asked, “is it cheaper to book Uber in advance?” For specific departure times, I prefer to schedule the Uber to arrive when I need it, but it rarely goes as planned and often costs more.
Updated April 28th, 2022
Scheduling a Window
Uber offers a scheduled rides feature in advance to ensure riders are able to snag transportation when and where they need it. That’s especially helpful for me as I live outside of the city and sometimes leave very early in the morning or at peak travel times where finding an Uber on the open market would be difficult.
Uber preschedule features allow me to better manage my time. You are able to use the clock icon to schedule an uber ride and confirm your ride for an upcoming trip within 15 minutes.
“How do I schedule a trip with Uber?” It’s simple to get started.
- Open the Uber app then tap the clock icon.
- Enter the details of your upcoming trip origin and destination.
- Scroll through the date and time then tap “set”
- Confirm by Booking a Ride
Here’s an example of a requested ride to the airport made from the Uber app.
Uber allows scheduled pickup times from minutes to 30 days in advance with a pick up scheduled within a ten-minute window. This is an alternative to its ride-on-demand option which most Uber rides are. When choosing this option, start the reservation as you normally would, then in the bottom right corner of the screen an image of a car and clock are present. Clicking that will open up time tables and guests just tap schedule to secure their ride.
What’s difficult about a ten-minute window is really two-fold. The first is that once a rider is matched with a driver, they can start the rides once at the pickup location but before the time of departure (more on that below) and second, that wait time charges begin two minutes after the beginning of the window. A driver can show up at the tenth minute of the window without penalty, but if they show up at the start of the window, they can charge standby from the second minute they wait.
In my specific case, I live close to the airport and I am not a morning person. It takes exactly 14 minutes from my front door to the terminal, 11 minutes later I will be sitting in my seat on the aircraft.
It’s a precise operation. Adding 10 minutes more cushion to a 5:30 AM flight is a major disruption.
Showing Up Early
Drivers often show up significantly early. Imagine you just got out of the shower 12 minutes before leaving the house and have already missed text messages from the driver. In the last week, I’ve had two scheduled rides where the driver was at least 10 minutes earlier than the earliest part of the window, which is really more than 20 minutes earlier than I plan for them to be there.
But if they want to show up early, that’s up to them, right? There’s no harm in being ready.
The first time this happened, I hadn’t realized that they started the ride when they arrived, well before my scheduled departure. That added significant cost to my journey.
The second time the driver arrived well before the start window, I was fairly upset. I was preparing to leave for a longer period of time, had more luggage to load, and still had to take the trash out. It’s awkward to tell the driver you’ve got to run to the dumpster first.
Extra Costs/Bad User Experience
When the driver shows up early, depending on how the system has analyzed your trip, you may start paying from two minutes after they arrive. They showed up 20 minutes earlier than the set pickup time and you’re not ready to leave yet? Sorry, Charlie, you’re paying for 18 minutes or losing the ride as the driver chooses to cancel a scheduled ride.
The experience is poor for both the rider and the driver. I don’t want to be a rude rider, my driver doesn’t want to start off the ride negatively either. But when drivers miss out on other rides because they are waiting for riders to finish breakfast – they are justifiably angry.
If drivers choose to arrive earlier than they are required why should riders pay for it? On a $24 fare, waiting time increased my costs by 33%. I entered the car, with my bag and we were rolling before the ten-minute window had expired, why do I owe the driver another 33% for showing up as agreed? One driver also indicated that scheduling rides in advance trigger higher pricing.
You could also face cancellation fees if they do not show up within the target time but have left to meet you.
I reached out to Uber customer service and despite being a Gold elite member and having access to “priority customer service” I was essentially told to pound sand in a polite way. It’s bad business in a terribly competitive environment and if users like me decide that they will no longer schedule rides with Uber, how long before we just jump ship altogether?
What do you think? Have you scheduled rides before with Uber or another rideshare service? How was your experience? Were you charged more than quoted?