When Uber announced it would allow riders to schedule rides as far as 30 days in advance, it raised two questions. First, wouldn't such a feature conflict with the app's focus on hailing rides immediately on-demand? Second, could it cause problems for drivers and cause scheduling confusion?

Uber insists the feature, available to users of Uber for Business and Business Profiles and launching first in Seattle, doesn't raise those issues. "Scheduled Rides is a top-requested feature from our riders, especially for times like early morning trips to the airport," Uber said in a statement.

The news may appear to be a reaction to Lyft's recent move allowing users in San Francisco to schedule rides up to 24 hours in advance. Uber says, however, that it has been working on its 30-day advance booking feature for a while. The company's announcement also comes on the heels of its rollout of guaranteed arrival times on UberPool rides.

Here's how the new feature will work, according to an Uber representative.

Nothing will change for drivers

Riders and drivers are not being matched ahead of time. When riders sign up for a 15-minute slot, that ride won't pop up for drivers until the time arrives. So to drivers, it looks like just another ride.

Riders can book as little as 30 minutes in advance

While 30-day advance booking is an option, users can also use the feature closer to the time they want the car to come.

Surge pricing still applies

Even if you schedule a ride a month ahead, if there happens to be surge pricing when your scheduled slot comes up, you'll be responsible for the higher fare.

No third-party booking

Uber declined to comment on whether third-party booking might be incorporated into the feature in the future, allowing colleagues to schedule rides for each other.

Seattle is the first city where it will be available

Uber plans to expand advance booking to what it describes as "top business travel cities" before offering it elsewhere.

Published on: Jun 10, 2016