After my recent analysis of the cost/benefit of using FlightCar, a peer to peer car rental service, for short trips, I decided it was time to take my own advice for a 3 day trip to Chicago.

TL;DR: Total saved = $74.25. Get over your fears about strangers driving your car and use FlightCar for short trips.

FlightCarMy flight was at 5am. Definitely not a time when I could take public transit to the airport. And flying alone meant the cost of a taxi wouldn’t be split with anyone. In fact the cost of getting to and from the airport (assuming I got in on time and was able to take the subway home) would have been about 1/3 the cost of my flight (it was a very cheap flight). Also, we (still) needed a car wash.

So at 3:30am I dropped my car off at the FlightCar office near the San Francisco airport. They had a guy there ready to help me, and he got my car checked in in about 10 minutes. Then he told me that it was too early for their limo service so he was going to call me an Uber. He sent me to the waiting room and about 5 minutes later my ride was there.

FlightCar waiting area

FlightCar waiting area

The FlightCar lot is just a few minutes from the airport and I was earlier for my flight than necessary. But it’s been a while since I used FlightCar last and they recommend getting there 2.5 hours before your flight. I can say with confidence that if you’re showing up super early you can probably just get there an hour before your flight. Especially if you have TSA-precheck.

A few hours after I landed in Chicago I got a message from FlightCar letting me know someone had rented my car for the day. It’s a little odd to think about a stranger driving around in my car. I had hoped it would just sit idle for two days and be cleaned and waiting for me to pick it up. But it seems the demand for cars from FlightCar is high. I didn’t list my car until two days before my trip.

FlightCar rental

FlightCar sent me a similar message when my car was returned 24 hours later.

When I landed back at my home airport I notified FlightCar that I had arrived and they immediately dispatched a car to pick me up.

FlightCar Pickup

They text you a link that allows tracking of the pickup driver. Although I was given an estimate of 19-24 minutes until the driver would arrive, he was actually there in about 5 minutes. A few minutes later we were at the FlightCar lot and they quickly checked me back in to my car and sent me on my way.

It turned out this FlightCar use saved me even more money than I had anticipated. I was originally scheduled to land in time to take the subway home, but after an hour and a half delay for weather I arrived after the subway stopped running. And so I would have been stuck paying for a Lyft/Uber to get home.

How much did I save?

FlightCar pays 10 cents per mile up to 75 miles per day (more if the driver goes over 75 miles) for my year/make of car.

Uber/Lyft estimated cost to airport = $27

Uber/Lyft estimated cost home = $27 (even a pool/line would probably be about this much due to Saturday night surge pricing)

Car wash we really needed = $30

Payment for the 39 miles driven by Michael (the guy who rented my car) = $3.90

Cost for wear and tear on my car for 39 miles = -$13.65

Total saved = $74.25 (actually $3.90 of this is profit in the form of a check FlightCar is mailing to me)


Bottom line: get over your fears about strangers driving your car and use FlightCar for short trips.