Uber is rolling out a new way to request extra legroom, quiet cars, and other amenities that are typically associated with its higher-priced Uber Black service. Dubbed Uber Comfort, the new service will be available today in over 40 markets in North America.
Uber Comfort is presented as a whole new product category in the app, alongside Uber X, Uber Pool, Uber Black, Uber Black SUV, and Uber XL. (Uber’s product lineup varies from city to city.) Think of it as fancier than Uber X, but less fancy than Uber Black. It’s also more expensive: riders can expect to pay around 20 to 40 percent more than a typical Uber X trip, according to a spokesperson.
So what do you get for that extra money? Newer cars, more legroom, and the ability to set the temperature in the vehicle before pickup. Uber Comfort customers will also have the (some would say) controversial power to request a conversation-free ride from their driver. Previously, “quiet mode” was only available to Uber Black customers.
Depending on who you talk to, Uber’s quiet mode is either a useful tool for riders who are deaf or hard of hearing, women who don’t want to have potentially creepy conversations with male drivers, or people with social anxiety or it’s a rude way for rich snobs to silence their drivers with just a tap in an app.
Uber Black customers, typically business travelers with expense accounts, still retain certain perks, like the ability to request help with luggage, access to 24/7 support, and pickup by professional drivers.
Drivers who want to accept Uber Comfort ride requests will need to meet several requirements, including a 4.85-star average rating and a car that is a maximum of five years old. Uber says that vehicles that meet its standards for extra legroom include (but are not limited to) the Toyota Camry, Dodge Durango, Audi SQ7, Chevy Tahoe, and Honda Odyssey.
The addition of Uber Comfort is the latest tweak to the company’s core ride-hailing business since Uber went public earlier this year. The company’s shares plunged 11 percent after the May 10th IPO, making it the biggest first-day dollar loss in US IPO history.