How to Schedule an Uber Ride in Advance

How to Schedule an Uber Ride in Advance

Most people using Uber order an Uber minutes before they need one, the same as you would hail down a cab. For the most part, this is Uber’s main service—to secure a ride quickly and off the cuff. But now that the popular rideshare service has expanded in popularity, it is offering a new service known as scheduled rides that allow you to book a pick-up time up to thirty days from your intended travel.

So how exactly do you schedule an Uber ride in advance? Here’s how you do it:

  • Select the Schedule or the Now button.
  • Pick what date you want to schedule your Uber as well as a ten-minute window for the intended pick-up time.
  • Tap on Set Pick-Up Time. Once you’ve done that, the pick-up will automatically select your current location by default.
  • If you’d like to change your pick-up location, tap Current Destination and move the cursor.
  • Once you’ve determined your destination, select it, verify that the cost estimate is satisfactory, and then tap Schedule again and you’re done!

Keep reading to find out more about this new service offering and how to best utilize it when planning your Uber trips.

Scheduled Rides: Uber’s New Feature

One of Uber’s product heads, Russell Dicker, stated in a recent blog post that many Uber customers had told the company they want to be able to arrange a pick-up for themselves or others in advance, rather than on the spot. That way, they will have the reassurance they can get an Uber when needed, even if they need to get to the airport at four in the morning.

Uber ran a test market for scheduled rides in Seattle, later expanding to the most prominent business travel cities across the United States. Uber has not yet informed its customer base which cities have scheduled ride services, so there is no comprehensive list available at this time unless you check the Uber app interface directly. 

While scheduled rides aren’t available in all locations, they have expanded at this point to cover most larger cities.  Chances are, if you’re in a metropolitan area, you’re likely able to schedule an Uber ride. Simply check the app for the Clock Icon, and if you see it, the service is available in your area.  

Who Has Priority on Scheduled Rides Through Uber?  

According to Dicker, there is some priority involved with which Uber customers will be able to get scheduled rides more easily. Because the service was designed for traveling executives, Uber’s business customers, and regular riders with business profiles on the app, will get priority access to scheduled pick-ups.

Business ride profiles are profiles that are set up by riders to use company expense accounts to charge for travel expenses.  These persons can also set up business ride profiles to take advantage of this priority service.

To do so, simply follow these instructions:

  • Open up your Uber app and click to open the menu.
  • Select Wallet and then scroll down to see Ride Profiles.
  • Select one of two options: Starting Uber for business or Add another business profile (If you already have a business profile, you’re probably not in need of this guide, so otherwise, choose Starting Uber for business).
  • Follow the offered prompts to create your Uber business profile.
  • If you are planning on using a business expense account, this is the point in the process where you will link to your company’s expense provider to take advantage of automatic receipt forwarding. This option is perfect for business travelers since it makes it much easier to keep up with a post-trip expense report.

Once you have a business profile set up on Uber, you’ll have priority access to scheduled rides any time you need one, provided you’re in an area where they are available.

After scheduling a ride, the app will remind you twenty-four hours in advance as an initial warning, and then a second reminder will be sent about thirty minutes before the pick-up time.  Also, the pick-up location can be updated, or the ride can be canceled altogether as long as it’s at least 30 minutes before pick-up.

When You Should Avoid Scheduling Rides in Advance

Thanks to the scheduled rides feature, many Uber customers can now plan for a ride when they need to make an important meeting or a flight at the airport. However, when the scheduled rides feature first kicked off, many customers were disappointed to learn that Uber’s scheduled trips are not guaranteed.
This lack of guarantee is a significant disadvantage of the feature since a guaranteed scheduled ride was the premise that initially attracted customers to the idea.  Many customers feel a taxi, or car rental offers more reliability on that front.

For some scenarios, using Uber’s scheduled ride system simply isn’t an efficient way to go about things. Here are some of the situations when it’s best to avoid attempting to schedule an Uber in advance.   

Don’t Schedule An Uber If You Reside in the Suburbs

If you live in a quiet residential area, far out in the suburbs, you might not be the best candidate to use Uber’s scheduled trips feature.  The lack of a guarantee is a risk if you need to be somewhere important at a specific time.

The reason for this is that while Uber’s scheduled rides don’t come with a guaranteed pick-up, they do tend to work very well in densely populated urban areas due to a large number of available Uber drivers in those communities.

However, if you live in a suburban neighborhood far from the hustle and bustle of the city, it will be a lot harder for Uber to find a compatible driver to assign your scheduled ride.

Don’t Schedule an Uber If You Know You Cannot Miss a Ride

Since the Uber scheduled trips feature has no guarantee, it may be too risky to use this feature if you can’t miss or show late for an important occasion.

A car rental service may be a better way to go for these occasions.

Renting a vehicle will likely be a more expensive option, but for critical trips, it can be worth the extra money knowing that you’re going to have your ride show up when you need them, and not bail on you at the last minute. 

Don’t Schedule an Uber for Airport Arrivals

Another instance when you might want to consider other options besides an Uber scheduled ride is when you are planning a trip from the airport to wherever else you need to go. Scheduling an Uber ahead of time for an airport pick-up (as opposed to an airport drop-off) is kind of pointless since airport arrival pick-ups are usually easy to find. Most larger airports have a queue line of Uber drivers waiting for their turn to pick up a passenger.    

Since Uber’s scheduled rides aren’t guaranteed, you’re better off just getting your luggage after you’ve landed, then going to the rideshare pick-up area and hailing a ride on the spot. You’ll probably be able to get a lift within five to ten minutes at most airports. 

A second advantage of getting a ride on-demand once you’ve left the airport is that if your flight gets delayed or you run into other issues at the airport, you won’t miss your scheduled pick-up. 

Uber’s Scheduled Rides “Guarantee”

Since launching its scheduled rides service in select areas, Uber has received many complaints about their lack of a guaranteed ride for scheduled pick-ups.  To mitigate this issue, Uber now has a policy in place where the Uber driver has to be at the pick-up location within ten minutes of the selected departure window.

If a driver doesn’t arrive on schedule, Uber offers a ten-dollar credit towards a future ride. In the eyes of many customers, this credit doesn’t make up for a missed flight or other important rendezvous.

Furthermore, Uber only credits those riders who are part of the UberX, XL, Black, Select, or SUV carpools. Other types of Uber services do not qualify for the scheduled trip program guarantees or credits. So if you’re not riding Uber in style, you’re out of luck if your scheduled Uber doesn’t show.

Uber’s Scheduled Rides are Not Guaranteed

While Uber does offer a minimal for failed scheduled pick-ups, there is no guarantee your Uber driver will show up, even if you do have one of the more premium vehicles selected or possess a business account.

And while Uber doesn’t offer a guarantee for scheduled pick-ups, its primary competition, Lyft doesn’t either. So at least Uber isn’t behind the pack in that regard. The reason it is difficult for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to offer guarantees for scheduled drivers is that Uber drivers are contractors that work on demand.

Because of the way the rideshare industry works, the drivers choose their working hours, or whether they work at all.  It simply isn’t feasible for Uber to guarantee a driver will show on time. They have no way to know whether or not they’ll have enough drivers or vehicles available to insure your pick-up.   

What Happens If My Scheduled Uber Driver Doesn’t Show?

Uber’s website states the following with regards to this subject: “Uber actively monitors availability to ensure that a car will arrive during the period you schedule a ride, but does not guarantee your scheduled ride. In a rare case, if a car cannot be found. You’ll be notified immediately.”

This quote from Uber’s site helps us get a feel for the way they’ve developed their scheduling system. With Uber, you’ll get a reminder ten to thirty minutes before your scheduled pick-up time.  Then, the drivers close to you see the fare, and if one of the drivers accepts the ride, they’ll come to pick you up.

Lyft has gone one step further than Uber with its scheduled rides. With Lyft, you can see the exact price before you pay for your scheduled trip instead of a cost estimate. Lyft also anticipates their “Prime Time” rides, which drives up pricing, and then they lock the price in for you so that you do not have to worry about any surprise fees. While Uber doesn’t have a similar feature set yet, we anticipate they probably will in the future since Lyft is currently their primary competition.

Can You Change a Scheduled Ride?

One of the benefits of an Uber scheduled ride appointment is that once you’ve set up a pre-scheduled pick-up, you can cancel or modify your reservation up until thirty minutes before being picked up without any consequences. If you cancel a ride after being matched with a driver, you will be charged a cancellation fee.

If you need to change your trip, you’ll need to cancel your ride, and then you’ll need to re-schedule a new pick-up. Unfortunately, you cannot modify your scheduled ride if you have an existing order. So if you need to change or cancel a scheduled trip, don’t worry, it’s not a complicated process. Follow the steps below to update or cancel your scheduled Uber ride:

  • First, select the Uber app and then go into the Settings menu.
  • Next, tap on Select Your Trips in the Options menu and then go to the Upcoming tab.
  • After that, tap on Cancel, and then confirm your cancelation request.
  • Once you’ve performed the above actions, you can follow the process we gave you above again to re-create a new scheduled ride with your updated information. 

So, when will you be charged for canceling an Uber ride?  If you cancel your scheduled Uber ride before a driver is assigned to the trip, you won’t be charged a fee. However, if you cancel after the driver is assigned and en route to pick you up, you’ll be charged with Uber’s standard $5 cancellation fee.

While it is somewhat inconvenient that scheduled rides can’t be guaranteed, it is convenient that you can modify or cancel your scheduled ride appointment up until the point the ride is matched with a driver. This policy lets you keep your travel plans flexible while also having a ride available to you. 

How Are Scheduled Rides’ Fares Determined?

Uber determines the cost of a scheduled ride in a way that is very different from Lyft. On Uber’s scheduled rides page, Uber states, “Scheduled rides are priced exactly like a normal Uber ride, and are subject to pricing – based on demand – at the time with which the ride is scheduled. If dynamic pricing is occurring, you’ll be notified through a push notification of your updated fair estimate when your request begins.”

While Uber’s approach to the cost of your scheduled ride seems to make a lot of sense, it doesn’t seem like Uber has the process entirely down at this point. For example, I was able to find a ride in minutes once I set up my destination filter for my nearby airport. I didn’t sit in the airport queue, but I do like getting rides to the airport at times. I wasn’t expecting to find a response to my scheduled trip so quickly, but I guess that’s a better response than not getting a ride at all. 

The cost of an average Uber ride is roughly two dollars per mile, and riders will also need to pay a Safe Rider Fee of $2.50 that helps to offset the costs of driver background checks and other security measures.

How Does a Driver Get a Scheduled Ride?

So, how do drivers get scheduled rides? If you accept a scheduled ride with Uber, that ride appears as a planned ride request, which is different from a traditional trip.

With Uber, the system keeps track of drivers that are available and then sends out a standard ride request covering the requested time made by the passenger. The driver might get the ride request a bit earlier if the system feels the driver is far away.

The time and location of the pick-up will determine how many drivers are pinged for availability to match with your scheduled trip. If you’re scheduling from a densely populated area, you will end up matching with plenty of drivers to ensure that you’ll find someone to take you. But if you’re not, it’s less likely you’ll be able to find a driver for a specific time-frame.

What Happens if There are No Drivers?

While rare, there are occasions where there are no Uber drivers available for the time frame set by your scheduled pick-up. This can be more likely the farther you are from an urban center since there will be fewer drivers available in your area.

In some rural areas, despite your best efforts to preplan your travel, you may find yourself in a position where you’ve scheduled a pick-up, but there are no drivers around to get you.

In this case, if you’ve scheduled a vehicle that qualifies for Uber’s scheduled ride guarantee, you’ll receive a ten dollar credit in your Uber account towards another ride at a later time or date.  But if you have a scheduled pick-up from a regular Uber and they don’t show, you’re going to need to call a regular taxi instead.  

Can You Book in Advance on Uber with UZURV?

UZURV is a third-party company that allows both Uber and Lyft users to schedule rides, so it aggregates both rideshare services into one app for the convenience of the rider. This app is a good option for anyone who wants to have the biggest pool of drivers available to them at any given time, giving them the best chance of a timely pick-up. Because it works through Uber, UZURV can be used to book a ride in advance.

On UZURV, however, there are some differences in using the app when it comes to planning a trip directly through Uber or Lyft. Uber and Lyft don’t have any specific relationship to UZURV. UZURV’s primary use is more for scheduling a ride with a particular driver than it is about just making a scheduled ride.

UZURV focuses more on helping Lyft and Uber drivers build up local clientele and relationships with customers who want a regular, personal driver for their rides. This is because neither Uber nor Lyft allow you to request specific drivers. While UZURV doesn’t have scheduled pick-ups in its software, what it does is enable the rider to find a local driver that they can depend on to schedule a pick-up.

Once you’ve contacted your chosen driver via the UZURV app, you’ll be able to use whatever app the driver utilizes to get your scheduled ride. Your rider will tell Lyft or Uber they have a ride request, and the requested driver will most likely get the trip if they are close. UZURV offers tips on how to make sure this consistently happens. Click here to sign up with UZURV.

Does UZURV Guarantee Scheduled Pick-ups Through Uber?

There still is no guarantee the pick-up will happen on time.  The chances are better because of the emphasis on developing personal relationships with drivers.  The drivers are more invested in their clientele and are more likely to show up on time if you schedule a ride ahead of time. The more regularly you use a single driver through either Uber or Lyft, the more likely it is you’ll be able to depend on that driver if you need a scheduled pick-up.

Criticisms of Uber’s Scheduled Rides

While many customers of Uber were happy when they first heard about Uber’s scheduled rides, there has been some criticism about the way this feature works. Part of the problem has to do with the ten-minute window Uber uses when it comes to the scheduled pick-up time. When it comes to that ten-minute window, here are two significant concerns Uber customers should understand:

  • An Uber driver can start their ride once they have arrived at the pick-up location. If they arrive before the time of the departure, they can begin charging you immediately. 
  • When you order a scheduled ride, you’ll be charged for the wait time, two minutes after the start of your time window. An Uber driver can arrive when minute ten happens, and the driver won’t be penalized. 

What this means is if your Uber driver arrives at the start of your window, they can wait around and start charging you the standby rate beginning on the second minute they wait. We’ll talk about this in more detail below. 

For example, I live near an airport, and I am not known for getting up early in the morning. I know that I need about fifteen minutes once I leave my front door to reach the terminal at the airport, so I tend to be precise with my schedule. If you are anything like me, then having to add an extra eight to ten minutes to reach a flight on time can be added stress during an already stressful process.  

Showing Up Early

Many Uber drivers arrive incredibly early to pick-up their passengers. If you took a twelve-minute shower before you left your house, you may have already missed the text message from your Uber driver and created an issue for yourself.

Recently, I ordered two scheduled rides, and both times, the drivers came ten minutes earlier than the earliest part of their time window. That means they were twenty minutes earlier than I initially planned.

Typically if a driver showed up early, it wouldn’t be an issue, but because of the way the Uber system works, the rider has to pay for it. The first time my driver showed up early, I didn’t know they started the ride meter as soon as they got there, even though it was ten minutes or so before I had scheduled my trip. That meant I wound up paying a lot more than I anticipated.

If drivers are deciding they’d like to arrive earlier to their scheduled rides than required, why should passengers pay for it? By doing this, drivers can often increase the cost of your trips by as much as 33%. That’s a lot of money to lose over time, especially if you’re a regular Uber rider.

Final Thoughts

The scheduled rides feature offered by Uber is a promising development for riders who like to have a plan.  However, the lack of scheduled pick-up guarantee, along with some dodgy rules about standby charges, makes the program less useful.

I’m confident Uber will continue to improve this resource as they are the rideshare industry leader and plan to defend that position.  For now, use the feature when it makes sense and have a contingency plan or leave a little early to hedge your bets!

Dan Ferrantelli

I'm Dan Ferrantelli. I discovered rideshare through my wife and daughter who used the service a full year before I decided to try it. Now I am a part-time Uber & Lyft driver and love sharing my experiences with others. I'm also an entrepreneur who has developed several businesses and I have a passion to write! I hope you enjoy the articles I post. Kind feedback is always welcome.

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