Uber may get into travel-booking business

Uber might be trying to enter the online travel-booking business, if a recent patent application is any indication.

A mobile app that would link real-time airplane landings with the availability of Uber cars might be in the works, according to an online application from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. From lodging to luggage to local attractions, the all-in-one app described would "cover the user's travel and transport needs for the entirety of the trip," with the click of a single button, according to the June patent, which was posted Dec. 24.

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Uber declined to comment on the application.

According to the patent, the Uber Travel system would include information similar to Uber's existing app, like an airport location where the user can be picked up. This app, though, would add recommended flights, and a way to book lodging and an airport-specific estimated agenda for collecting luggage and passing through customs.

Another novel property of the proposed app is comparisons between shared economy (think Airbnb) and traditional hotel lodging options. Also described is a smart interface that can determine the types of lodging and transportation needed between two destinations without the user having to individually input each leg of the journey. The patent application even describes a contingency plan for if the user is unable to use their mobile phone when they land.

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The multibillion-dollar ride-hailing start-up has already more than dipped its toes in the travel space. In September, the company announced a partnership with Hilton. And an October study found Uber is more popular than taxis for business travelers.

Still, potential competitors like Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz and Kayak are booming. Meanwhile, Uber has faced challenges working with airports, such as bans or extra surcharges for pickups.

But if Uber Travel takes off in online travel, it could make inroads in an industry valued at more than $35 billion, according to comScore estimates.