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United, TripAdvisor, Starbucks add Uber booking to their mobile apps

Uber expands its reach by partnering with United Airlines, Hyatt Hotels and others on mobile app bookings.

Despite its regulatory woes, Uber is extending its reach in the smartphone world big-time. United Airlines, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, Starbucks, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and other companies announced Wednesday that they were adding the on-demand car service as a feature on their mobile apps.

United Airlines says it's the first airline to offer passengers the Uber booking option on its app. For a limited time, the airline will reward United app users with 1,000 award miles in its MileagePlus program for using Uber, a statement says.

Fliers must sign up with Uber and pay for a ride to score the miles, a statement says.

TripAdvisor also announced that its app and mobile site would feature a "Ride there with Uber" button that estimates car fees for users browsing restaurants and entertainment sites and allow them to make a reservation too.

Expensify Trips, an app aimed at business travelers, TripCase and others have jumped on the Uber bandwagon. Why? It's all about convenience, company statements say.

"Instead of having to exit the TripAdvisor app, run the Uber app and enter the destination address, your Uber is on its way with just a tap, ready to whisk you off to the venue you were looking at," Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer, says in a statement. (The feature debuts in English and Italian on TripAdvisor, with more languages on the way.)

It's good for Uber, which announced Tuesday that it has hired former Obama administration senior advisor David Plouffe to run a "campaign for Uber" to improve the company's image with policy makers and users.

"Uber has been in a campaign but hasn't been running one," Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick wrote on his blog. "Our opponent -- the Big Taxi cartel -- has used decades of political contributions and influence to restrict competition, reduce choice for consumers, and put a stranglehold on economic opportunity for its drivers."  

Uber aggressively has challenged the taxi industry and local transportation regulations in many cities it serves.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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