Rob Mitchell is Uber’s Head of Business Development for Airports, Events, and Travel. Rob and his team are responsible for leading partnership strategy and negotiating deals that improve Uber’s customers' experiences across the company’s airports and travel sector.
Uber, the popular on-demand ride-hailing business, launched Uber Reserve last year to let its customers book trips in advance. Now, Uber Reserve is being used at select airports across the United States to make hectic airport trips less chaotic for both its customers and drivers.
With the ease of pandemic travel restrictions worldwide, Uber wants to be a traveler’s first choice for airport pickups and drop-offs.
We talked with Rob about what customers should know about booking with Uber Reserve, how the app can help travelers prepare for what’s expected to be a busy holiday travel season, and future plans as Uber expands the offering into new markets.
Q: Uber Reserve has been available in some markets for nearly a year. What is different about the offering when it was first rolled out compared to your plans with it now and for the future?
A: We launched Uber Reserve last year to let you book your trip in advance. Now, we’re bringing that experience to airport travel, providing extra peace of mind so you can step off the plane and know your ride is waiting for you. Uber Reserve at airports is now available for Uber Black and Uber Black SUV at more than 20 airports across the country, with plans to expand further in the coming months. Uber Reserve at airports includes the following features:
- Flight tracking: The technology, powered by OAG’s Flight Info API using Flight Status Data, allows us to automatically adjust your Uber reservation based on the flight information you provide, so your driver is ready and waiting at the airport when your flight lands—whether it’s on time, early or delayed.
- Early booking: Reserve your ride and lock in your fare up to 30 days in advance, so you know your ride is taken care of before you arrive.
- Complimentary wait time: If you aren’t quite ready to get in your ride after you land, or maybe you’re waiting for your luggage, there’s no need to rush. The driver will wait up to 60-minutes at no additional charge.
- Curbside pick-up: Your driver will conveniently pick you up curbside so you can step off the plane and into your ride.
A: Uber is known to help you push a button and get a ride on-demand, whenever and wherever you need it. With Uber Reserve, you can push a button and plan a ride up to 30 days in advance so you can step off the plane and into your ride. As travel can be unpredictable, Uber Reserve provides a sense of certainty when things don’t go as planned. Through an integration with OAG’s technology platform, the reservation time is automatically updated based on provided flight information so your Uber ride is waiting when your flight lands, whether it’s on time, early or delayed.
Q: As global travel restrictions continue to ease, what are some challenges Uber Reserve can help travelers overcome when planning their next trip?
A: Uber Reserve at airports includes features that take the guesswork out of travel and give riders extra peace of mind so they know their ride will be ready when they land. Although we’re not completely back to pre-pandemic travel rates, passenger traffic at airports has more than doubled compared to last year, according to the TSA. But even as more people hit the road again, it’s also true that air travel can feel more stressful and uncertain than before. At Uber, we’re focused on getting you where you need to be as efficiently and safely as possible—and constantly innovating to make your life a bit easier.
Q: How did you hear about OAG and when did you first make OAG part of Uber Reserve?
A: OAG is practically a household name for aviation enthusiasts, many of us at Uber included. My dad traveled all the time for work and he would bring home the original OAG Pocket Flight Guide, which I would often read cover-to-cover. Fast forward to our early discussions about Uber Reserve and other products for which we might need real-time flight status data, and we knew we could turn to OAG – the company knows that good data is the backbone of the travel industry and puts the needs of its customers first.
For this new Uber product to be successful, we knew we needed an accurate and reliable source of real time flight data. We vetted OAG’s analytical tools and APIs and were confident that OAG is the right partner to power Reserve.
Q: Can you describe a few of the reasons you decided to partner with OAG? For example, anything about OAG’s data and platform capabilities that were most appealing to your team?
A: At Uber, our goal is to help you go anywhere and get anything. That includes getting to and from the airport as easily and smoothly as possible. And, since air travel can be unpredictable, we wanted to partner with one of the world’s leading travel data providers to improve the airport pickup experience. With more than one million flight status updates daily, including 97% of worldwide flight coverage, OAG was the ideal partner for Uber Reserve at airports.
Uber works with OAG to help coordinate flight tracking for riders and drivers. Within 24-hours of a flight landing, the rider will be notified in the Uber app of a delay or potential early arrival. The technology, powered by OAG, then adjusts the reservation pickup time automatically and informs the driver. This way the driver is ready the moment you land.
Q: What goals are you hoping OAG helps you to accomplish with Uber Reserve? What is the long-term impact of working with OAG?
A: At Uber, our goal is to get you where you need to be as efficiently and safely as possible. As travel preferences have shifted, Uber Reserve at airports allows travelers to plan and reserve rides according to what fits their schedule best. Uber Reserve at airports includes flight tracking technology, powered by OAG, enabling drivers to be alerted about a potential delay or early arrival, which helps to reduce anxiety and create a landing experience that gives riders more control. We’re looking forward to the continued expansion of Uber Reserve at airports, with the help of OAG, so we can bring peace of mind to more travelers heading into the busy holiday travel season and beyond.