What if Uber was an Airline…

I wanted to do this post because to me Uber has been an amazing customer experience… the epitome of customer service; and, it’s heartbreaking to go from Uber to the airline experience (e.g. United Airlines) every week. It’s like starting a meal with Seared Scallops on Leak and Pea Purée topped with Caviar and then finishing with a bag of half-crushed saltine crackers… one of which has a random dark black hair embedded in it.

For a moment, let’s imagine that Uber was an airline…

…and you need to book a flight from Calgary to San Francisco. This is a frequent and consistent destination for you and you’ve used Uber to book this flight several times in the past. There is not much variation in your travel schedule and it already knows details about you.

You open the Uber Airline App and it says, “Hi Sharlene. You’re currently in Calgary, are you booking a flight to San Francisco?”

When you click yes, it knows that you already have two Sunday to Thursday flights booked and recommends the next flight in that pattern so there is no risk of double booking; it then checks your Uber calendar and alerts you if there is a public holiday or potential conflict with another flight/event. It asks if you would like to adjust flight days.

You confirm dates and preferred seating (because it knows your preferred seat). Uber does not oversell flights, but it sends you a text message (knowing your regular flight schedule) alerting you when the flight you normally take is getting close to full. You get the option of booking on that flight from the text message.

It asks, Are you staying at address XYZ like you did in previous weeks? Yes.

Because your personal and TSA information is already in the system, you don’t have to fill in the TSA passport or hotel information.

It asks, Would you like a car for your date of travel? Yes. You are automatically billed a flat rate for the flight and a receipt is sent via email or added into your expensing software.

On your day of travel… an hour before your car arrives you receive a text message telling you that a limo will arrive at your location in the hour. Uber checks the local weather and traffic situation and may make the recommendation to leave a bit earlier depending on conditions. It gives you a friendly “wink wink” tongue in cheek message to not forget your passport or cell phone.

5-minutes prior to arrival at your location, a text message arrives telling you a car will arrive shortly and that Mike will be your driver. He has a 5-star rating and you can see where he is on the map on your phone. When the driver picks you up you are automatically checked into your flight. In the car, you have the option to print your tickets, baggage tags or your pre-filled customs declaration while on the way to the airport.

You are taken directly to customs and immigration. Your card is charged a flat rate and a receipt is sent via email or added into your expensing software. You are asked to rate Mike.

Customs and security proceeds as usual. While waiting for your flight you sit in the Uber lounge and enjoy a glass of whatever you want. If there is a change in your seat assignment, flight details, gate details or you receive an upgrade, you get a text message.

When the flight starts to board you also receive a text message. While on the plane you are able to use the free inflight wi-fi and are able to read your e-book without having to turn it off during takeoff and landing. The flight proceeds as normal but is slightly late due to weather.

When you arrive in San Francisco you receive a text message telling you that a driver will meet you at the departures level by Exit #7 in 5-minutes. His name is Frank and he has a 4.5-star rating. Uber already knows that you did not check any bags and that your flight was delayed. The limo timing adjusted accordingly.

Frank already knows that you are going to address XYZ but asks if there is anything that would make your trip more enjoyable. While on the flight you ordered food and on the way to your address you pick it up.

When you are dropped off, your card is charged a flat rate and a receipt is sent via email or added into your expensing software. You are asked to rate Frank. You proceed with your evening as planned after enjoying your end to end travel experience.

I personally don’t think the above scenario is hard… because my phone already gives me a lot of the information above without me asking. It’s all about connecting the dots and using those dots in a meaningful way.

In most cases, the data that systems gather is used either inefficiently or incorrectly because often computer systems are built by people who build computer systems and not by the end-user of that computer system.

I would love it if the rest of the travel experience was like Uber… because it would change the travel industry.

3 comments on “What if Uber was an Airline…Add yours →

  1. Of course that information would be secure (it is now) and privacy never should be an issue. Every company has to adhere to the same laws that they are bound to in whatever country they are in. It’s never systems or computers that rip people off, it’s people that rip people off.

    In fact, I would trust Uber more than a taxi. One of the reasons why I stopped using cabs is every time I stepped into one, the driver tried to scam me. With Uber, they have your credit card in the system and only the system sees it. This prevents drivers from skimming it (mine has been skimmed twice in two different cabs) and he can’t threaten you or trick you into paying exorbitant fees/fares/tips (like happens to me frequently).

    Uber collects no more data about you than is already collected by companies. I think the only reason that none of this data is ever used is because big companies are so disorganized and their systems are so monolithic that no two systems can talk to each other effectively. That or they don’t care about their customer or their brand (like with United Airlines).

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