I Roadtested Uber’s New Travel Feature, and I Think It’s Going to Take Off

Just in time for summer travel, Uber has launched two new features and a new app: Uber Reserve Airport Picup, which lets you book an airport pick-up with up to 60 minutes wait-time; Uber Travel, which stores your flights, hotel and rides in one place; and Uber Carshare, a feature letting you rent or rent out a car.

“From the moment you book your outbound flight to the moment you return home, our vision is to become a one-stop shop for every travel need, by integrating that Uber ease and convenience that Aussies know and love,” says Margarita Peker, Uber’s Head of Rider Operations ANZ.

I was fortunate enough to try all three over the course of a trip to Perth and Margaret River in Western Australia (I can’t recommend enough if you’re after beautiful, empty beaches and good wine) so I’m here to report back on how exactly they worked.

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Uber Travel

Uber Travel is a new icon you’ll see inside the Uber app, if you have the latest version. It’ll prompt you to sign into the Google or Microsoft email account associated with your travel reservation.

Once logged in, it’ll take a few minutes to scan your email before bringing up any upcoming reservations it finds. It brought up my Sydney to Perth flight the next morning, and I was able to book my Uber ride for then. Helpfully, it calculated the time I needed to be at the airport and then how long it would take me to get there — deciding what time the rider would arrive at my door.

For a limited time, Uber is giving you 10% back in credit, so that was a win, too. Another monetary benefit? It’ll lock in the price in advance, so you won’t be subject to surging rates.

Uber Carshare

In an Uber first: this feature will launch in Australia first before being available in the US next year.

If you’ve ever used Car Next Door, Uber Carshare is basically the same thing – you can rent privately-owned cars. In fact, it is Car Next Door — Uber acquired the business earlier this year. Like Car Next Door, you can rent a car by the hour, day, week or longer. The rate is calculated by time and distance (per kilometre), with the distance fee including the cost of fuel. So anytime you fuel up, you’ll save the receipt and be reimbursed.

I’ve actually used Car Next Door a few times before for day trips around Sydney, and liked the convenience of being able to pick the car up on a street near me, rather than having to trek to Darlinghurst where most of the Sydney car rental places are located.

Uber Reserve Airport Pickup

Finally, I used Uber Reserve Airport to reserve my airport pick-up at Sydney Airport and take me home. Uber Reserve, which lets you schedule a car to pick you up in advance, has been live since last year. It’s available on Uber X, Uber XL, Uber Comfort and Uber Premier.

Uber Reserve Airport Pickups is new, and is currently only available at Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney airports and for Uber Premium cars. Because of this, the fare was a lot more expensive than it usually would be ($147 as opposed to $48 on the way to the airport).

Once you’ve booked it, it uses flight tracking technology to ensure your ride is ready and waiting for you at the destination airport.

The fare also takes into account a 60-minute wait time. I’d never actually ridden Uber Premium before, and I do have to say it is a much nicer experience than a regular Uber. When I booked, I could choose my preference for whether I wanted to have a conversation with my driver, what temperature I wanted the car to be and if I was carrying any bags. The car that picked me up was a Tesla, while two of my travel companions were picked up in an Audi and Lexus.

I booked my Uber Reserve at the airport in Perth, entering my flight details so the driver would know if the flight was delayed at all (mine wasn’t). When I landed, I got a notification that my driver was six minutes from my pick-up location. I could either tick ‘Yes, pick me up’ or ‘Cancel trip’.

I waited until I grabbed my bag and the carousel to let him know to pick me up – though, in hindsight, I could’ve told him sooner so I wouldn’t have had to wait outside at all. The driver picked me up right outside the terminal, rather than me having to haul my luggage to the ride-share pick-up area.

Once inside his car, I gave him my ride PIN, and I was off. Anyone can turn on this setting in their Uber app — it helps ensure you’re getting in the right car and that the driver won’t start the fare until you’re in. It’s in Settings > Verify Your Ride.

My take? Uber Travel saved me the time I usually spend having to count backward to figure out what time I needed to leave for the airport — not to mention, without having to pay a surging rate, it saved me money, too.

I was already a user of Car Next Door so the fact it’s under the Uber brand umbrella now is great, as I’m a fan of Uber’s customer service. I’ll no doubt be using the feature for a road trip up or down the NSW coast soon.

Uber Reserve Airport Pickups, though, was quite a bit more expensive than if I’d ordered a regular Uber, so if you aren’t willing to splurge on this, I’d recommend waiting until the feature is available for regular rides, too — not just Uber Premium.

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