For the most part, Lyft is an on-demand service: You request a ride a few minutes before you need it.
But if you prefer to arrange your ride ahead of time, you can schedule a ride up to 30 days in advance.
After you schedule a ride, local drivers can claim your ride and enter it into their own schedule.
But be warned: Lyft does not guarantee that drivers will be available during your pickup window.
And there are other potential downsides: Why do scheduled rides seem more expensive than regular rides? And why do drivers show up so much earlier than expected?
Read on to learn how to schedule a ride, and get answers to the most frequently asked questions about the scheduling system.
How to schedule a ride on Lyft
There are several ways to schedule a ride on Lyft. You can schedule a ride up to 30 days in advance.
On the home screen, tap the calendar icon next to the “Where are you going?” destination box. Choose the pickup date and time, set the pickup and drop-off locations, then select a ride type.
Or, enter a destination on the home screen first, then click the Schedule button near the bottom of the ride request screen.
You can also tap the “Trips” icon in the upper corner of the home screen, then tap Schedule a ride. Enter the pickup time, the pickup and destination, and select a ride type.
The pickup window
Lyft displays a 10–15 minute pickup window for scheduled rides that estimates when your driver will arrive.
If you schedule a ride for 2:30 pm, the pickup window may say 2:30–2:40. Note that the pickup window is not the same as wait time. If your driver arrives at 2:30, it doesn’t mean that you have until 2:40 to meet at their car.
Once your driver arrives and the pickup window begins, you have 5 minutes to meet at their car.
Editing and cancelling a scheduled ride
Tap the Trips icon on the home screen to view your scheduled rides. You can edit or cancel the ride, but you may be charged a fee if you cancel the ride within 1 hour of the pickup time.
You will get info about your driver around 15 minutes before your pickup window
After a driver is dispatched to your ride, you will see the driver’s name, vehicle type, location, and arrival time. Drivers are typically dispatched around 15 minutes before your pickup window.
The driver information may change if the current driver cancels or if another driver is assigned to the ride.
Do drivers see your ride in advance?
After you schedule a ride, nearby Lyft drivers can view and select it from a list of available rides.
Drivers can see the general pickup and drop-off locations, the total mileage, and an estimated payout.
But that doesn’t guarantee a driver will claim your ride in advance. If no driver selects your ride ahead of time, a ride request will go out to nearby available drivers around 15 minutes before your pickup window.
Cancellation policy: $10 if you cancel within an hour of your scheduled ride
Scheduled rides have a unique cancellation policy and a higher cancellation fee than normal rides.
You will be charged a cancellation fee if you cancel within 1 hour of the scheduled pickup window.
You will also be charged a fee if you cancel the ride after a driver has been matched, they are on the way to pick you up, and they are scheduled to arrive on time for the pickup window.
A no-show fee also applies. After your driver arrives and the pickup window begins, you can be charged a no-show fee if you don’t arrive at their car within 5 minutes.
For example, if your pickup window is 2:30–2:40. Your driver arrives at 2:20. Once it’s 2:30, you have 5 minutes to meet the driver at their car.
No guarantees! There’s a chance your driver won’t show up
Lyft.com has an important warning about scheduled rides: “We can’t guarantee the availability of drivers in your area during your pickup window.”
That means that there’s a chance a driver won’t show up to your scheduled ride. There are horror stories of drivers cancelling last minute and stranding passengers before an important appointment.
However, you shouldn’t have an issue getting a driver to show up to most scheduled rides. If one driver cancels, another nearby driver will receive the ride request and you should eventually be paired with a driver.
But you may run into problems getting a ride on time if you are in a remote area or if your ride is in the early morning hours, 3–5am.
Why do drivers show up so early to scheduled rides?
Many Lyft customers notice that Lyft drivers show up early to scheduled rides, around 10–15 minutes before the pickup time.
Here’s why: Drivers are dispatched 15 minutes before the pickup window to give them plenty of time to arrive. If the driver is already close by, that could mean that they show up much earlier than expected.
Another reason for early arrivals is that drivers must be online and close to the pickup location to be eligible for the scheduled ride, so many will be near the pickup location when the ride dispatch goes out.
Drivers also have to show up on time to be eligible to receive any potential no-show cancellation fee. If a passenger cancels last minute, drivers can only collect the no-show fee if they were on time to arrive at the pickup window.
Both the early dispatch system and the cancellation fee policy motivate drivers to show up early, although many don’t like the unpaid wait time.
You don’t have to start your ride early if a driver arrives early. You can wait until the pickup window begins, but once the window begins, you only have around 5 minutes of wait time before the driver can leave.
Are scheduled rides more expensive?
There isn’t a specific upcharge or additional fee for scheduled rides, but you might notice that some scheduled rides are more expensive than the same ride at the present time.
The price of a scheduled ride depends on predicted demand. If you’re scheduling a ride that will take place during peak hours—like morning and evening commutes—it will probably be more expensive than if you requested the same ride during the middle of the day.
For example, I looked at ride prices at noon on a Tuesday. A ride to the airport was $25. But when I scheduled the same ride for Saturday, the price jumped to $33.99.
I tapped on additional pricing information and noticed that Lyft added Prime Time pricing due to anticipated demand on Saturday.
So if a scheduled ride is more expensive, it is likely because Lyft is expecting increased demand during your scheduled time.
Does scheduling a ride lock in the price?
The final price will be the same as the upfront price estimate when you first book the ride for most scheduled rides, but there are some exceptions.
The final price may increase if the ride takes significantly longer than expected or if you add extra stops along the way.
Why some drivers don’t like scheduled rides
The top complaint about scheduled rides is that they dispatch drivers far too early and require too much unpaid wait time.
Because of the early dispatching system for scheduled rides, drivers might get to a scheduled ride 10 or 15 minutes before the pickup window and aren’t paid for that wait time.
Many customers are confused or irritated when a driver shows up early for a scheduled ride or don’t understand that their 10–15 minute pickup window doesn’t mean 10–15 minutes of free wait time.
Another frustration is that drivers can lose scheduled rides unexpectedly even if they sign up to do them long in advance.
If the Lyft system doesn’t think a driver is close enough to the pickup, the ride might be automatically reassigned to another driver.
But the reassigning system is unpredictable and imperfect. It can mean that a driver wakes up early or stays up late but wastes time preparing for a ride that never happens.
When does it make sense to schedule a ride?
Scheduled rides can be more expensive, there’s no 100% guarantee that you’ll get a ride, and many drivers don’t like doing scheduled rides. So when is it a good idea to schedule a ride?
Scheduling a ride is still worth the potential downsides if you live in an area without many drivers or need a ride during the early morning don’t.
If you don’t expect many drivers to be on the road when you need a ride, it’s a good idea to put your scheduled ride into the system and hope that a driver wants to do it.
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