No, Uber doesn’t owe you a free flight to St. Martin

David Kresl found out the hard way that Uber’s ride scheduling window is a guideline and not a guarantee. Now he wants the ride-sharing service to pay for his sister-in-law’s trip to St. Martin.


Kresl scheduled the service to pick him up, along with three other people, between 3:45 a.m. and 4 a.m. for a 5:30 a.m. flight from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to St. Martin. “At 3:55 my Uber app showed a car coming from the west,” Kresl recounted. “It disappeared five minutes later and a new car was coming from the east. It arrived at 4:21 and got us to the airport at 4:47.”

As a result of their tardiness, the airline had closed off bag checks for their flight. Because the bags could not fly unattended, Kresl booked a flight for his sister-in-law, who took the bags with her. “Her flight cost $668,” Kresl said, “a charge we wouldn’t have had to pay had Uber fulfilled their contract.”

Actually, if Kresl had taken the time to read Uber’s Terms of Service, he would have discovered that:

Uber makes no representation, warranty or guarantee regarding the reliability, timeliness, quality, suitability, or availability of the services or any services or goods requested through the use of the services, or that the services will be uninterrupted or error-free.

In addition, the terms state that Uber shall not be liable for damages related to use of their services.

How Kresl wants Uber to pay for his sister-in-law’s plane ticket is a mystery to me. Especially since the late arrival of Uber’s driver was one of many obstacles that prevented Kresl and his bags from flying together.

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First off, most airlines suggest that passengers arrive at least two hours prior to departure for international flights. Even if the driver had arrived within the 15-minute window Kresl had requested, the traveling party would have arrived at O’Hare later than the suggested arrival time.

I recently had my first experience with Uber’s ride scheduling service, and I was nervous about the driver arriving on time for me to make my flight. For a domestic departure at 6:40 a.m., I requested that the driver arrive between 4:45 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. for a 30- to 40-minute drive, with the goal of arriving at the airport more than one hour before my flight. Sure enough, the driver arrived on time, but what if he was delayed? I had built in extra time to call a taxi or another driver.

Kresl told our advocates he based his pickup window on his typical departure time for an international flight when he was driving himself. But without the departure time in his control, he was leaving the timing up to Uber’s driver and didn’t allow enough time to get to O’Hare to begin with.

Kresl mailed a complaint to Uber’s Chicago office, but it was returned to him, marked “Address Unknown.” He could have escalated his complaint via email to executives at Uber. We list their contact information on our website.

Instead, he contacted our advocates, who told him we didn’t think he had any recourse with Uber. We cited his late departure time and reiterated that Uber does not offer a guarantee on their arrival times and that their terms state that they are not responsible for any loss that may arise from the use of their service. Unfortunately, this is not a case that we could successfully advocate. I am sorry that we could not be more helpful.

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Mark Pokedoff

Four-time Emmy-award-winning television sports production specialist and frequent traveler. Longtime freelance writer and travel blog enthusiast. Proud papa of four amazing kids who have been upgraded to first class more than all their friends combined. Read more of Mark's articles here.

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