The most widely used taxi hailing app in San Francisco launched a new feature this morning that Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and other competing services currently don't offer: advance booking for rides to airports in the Bay Area.
Flywheel, which has partnered with drivers at every cab company in The City, said its option to book 30 minutes to two weeks in advance not only gives customers peace of mind, but also gives taxis an edge over Uber and other transportation network companies.
"TNCs have a system of surge pricing, trying to pull people out to be driving when there is demand," Flywheel CEO Steve Humphreys said, "but that's hard to do at 4 or 5 in the morning."
Nearly three-quarters of advance-booked rides by phone and online for all car services are to the airport, according to taxi fleets in the area.
Flywheel's pre-booking feature -- the top request from customers in surveys and focus groups -- will not come with an extra fee.
"We've been beta testing it for two weeks now and it's been working just phenomenally," Humphreys said.
Flywheel began conversations on advance booking early this year and developed the capability in a couple of months. The new service currently allows customers to book rides for San Francisco International Airport, Oakland International Airport and Mineta San Jose International Airport and will expand to customers in Seattle by the end of this month and Los Angeles in early August.
DeSoto Cab Co. President Hansu Kim said advance booking brings even more convenience and control to tourists and visitors in San Francisco.