3 simple ways Uber could make airport pickup better

Think back to a time you used Uber at an international airport. What was the biggest problem you encountered? Last week Tuesday I arrived in Paris, France for the first time. When I requested an Uber from my airport, my biggest problem encountered was finding my Uber driver.

The Uber app told me to meet my driver at Terminal 2E, Arrivals — Door 5 and so I walked over there. Turns out that door had been closed off but the doors in between, 4 and 6 had no issues. I waited outside the door but I could not find my driver. I also had no idea what type of car a Peugot 508 is and how it’s exterior looked. I tried looking for the license plate CP-556VD but had no luck finding it.

Arrivals Door 5 at the Paris airport
Multiple cancellation fees

After walking around looking for my driver I couldn’t find him and he couldn’t find me so he cancelled the trip and I got charged 5 €.

I requested a couple more rides and had the same problems occur again. I couldn’t find the driver’s car by license plate and had multiple cancellation charges occur. By this time 30 minutes had passed by.

I believe the main reason for this happening is due to the fact that I did not have cellular service, I only had wifi and the driver had no way of calling me when arrived. I felt frustrated at this point.

Because I was on wifi the Uber app was not updating quickly enough in real time with the correct location of the driver. Cars are only allowed to stay in the arrival section at the Paris airport for a few minutes unless they pay for parking. So I believe the drivers tried to call me multiple times, couldn’t see me walking towards their car so they cancelled and left.

I ended up getting an Uber from the airport to my destination but it took me 35 minutes and requesting 5 different Ubers before it finally worked.

One thing I like about Uber is the fact that it just seems to works anywhere I am in the world. I’ve ridden on Ubers in many new cities, but mostly North American cities, so maybe that is why I’m not accustomed to this occurrence. I think there are a few design solutions that would have helped my driver and I find each other faster when I first arrived in Paris.

Design suggestion #1: Wifi Calling inside the Uber App

Apple recently introduced this great feature in iOS 10 called CallKit and it is a new framework that lets developers using VoIP calling easily integrate with the native Phone UI. Apps using CallKit can have incoming calls displayed fully on the lock screen. Facebook Messenger uses CallKit, so does Skype and Viber. Here are some concept designs that illustrate how I imagine wifi calling inside Uber working:

Design suggestion #2: Temporary photo of self and surroundings

Sometimes having the ability to call the driver isn’t always enough to communicate. This is especially true in Paris where most people speak French and I don’t speak any French at all. And sometime a pictures tells a thousand words. I imagine this working in a simple manner where after I request a ride and get a driver assigned to me, I have the option to take up to 3 photos of myself and my surroundings to better help my driver find me. Here’s how I imagine this working:

Option to take and upload 3 photos of self and surrounding to share with driver

Design suggestion #3: Live video stream of driver’s POV

Another design suggestion that would have made the pickup experience much easier at the airport is a live video stream of the driver’s point of view. While seeing my driver’s location update via a car icon on a map is great, it sometimes doesn’t reflect the actual location of the driver and the direction the driver is driving in. A live video stream of the driver’s POV allows for a truly real time experience. Although this suggestion could be very costly for those who have limited mobile data caps. Here’s how I imagine this working:

It is interesting to note that Uber recently announced Beacon, “a device that goes on a driver’s windshield and uses color-pairing technology to help drivers and riders more quickly connect at night, particularly at crowded venues.” I think this is a great new addition to the Uber experience and I look forward to trying it out.

I’m also looking forward to new and continued improvements that Uber will introduce to make the pickup and drop off experience seamless and simple so that the next time I travel to a new part of the world and order an Uber both my driver and I are able to find each other with ease.

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