Car Rentals

FlightCar Review

FlightcarI’ve finished my first trip using Flightcar to park, clean and rent out my car while I was away for a few weeks. This report summarizes my experience which was mostly good but with one significant and expensive problem.

Flightcar is a new peer to peer transportation service that recently launched in San Francisco, Los Angeles in Boston. When you are going on a trip you simply drive your car to the airport and drop it off with these folks at their lot. They provide free parking and a car wash, and they offer your car up as a rental to folks flying in to your city. If they do rent out your car, you make money. If they don’t, you just got free parking and a car wash.

In the end we earned $176.60 for leaving our car with Flightcar for just under 2 weeks. I calculated that using Flightcar for parking saves us at least $32 (the cost of taking the subway to and from the airport for two of us), plus we get the free car wash. And we dropped the car off with half a tank of gas and got it back with 3/4 of a tank, so that’s another $10 or so in accidental profit. Because our flight home was significantly delayed we didn’t arrive until midnight, meaning we might have missed the last subway train and had to take a cab home, adding another $24 to the cost of our transit. I’m including that and the accidental gas profit in the totals, but that’s $34 we can’t count on in the future. Total gain from renting our car out through Flightcar: $264. Total cost: 1192 miles driven on the car.

Our car was actually rented out twice, as I learned from the emails they send me each time someone rented the car. The payment to me is calculated based on miles driven, not days rented. For my car class they pay .10 per mile for all miles that average less than 75 per day. In this case they had my car 12 days so that gave me up to 900 miles at .10 and anything over that is paid at .30 per mile. I happened to have at least one renter who put a lot of miles on the car. In this case I earned .22 per mile on average (264/1192). But that’s probably unusual, and if you average close to .10 per mile the profit to owners using Flightcar is questionable. If you were going to park at the airport anyway, the savings on that make this a very good deal. If you are cheap like me, and just take public transit to the airport, the money from Flightcar may not offset the cost of the mileage put on your car.

Our car is a compact which Flightcar rents out for $22/day. This includes all taxes, fees and insurance in one flat rate. Renters pay .35 cents per mile over a base of 90 miles per day.

Overall the experience was quite nice, with one notable issue. We dropped the car off at their lot near the airport and they had a fancy limo take us to the airport. The car intake was quick and easy, and the limo was there for us within 10 minutes. While away I got email updates each time our car was rented. And when we arrived at the airport returning home a text message was waiting for me with a link to click to report that we landed. Once I indicated that we had our luggage I was told where to go wait outside and provided a map with realtime tracking of the car sent to pick us up. It was there within a few minutes and we were driven the 10 minutes to the lot where our very clean car was waiting for us.

The only problem was with our Garmin, which the man at the drop off recommended we not leave in the car. He offered to store it for us, and since Flightcar advertises that they will store items for the owners I opted to try this out. When we returned the Garmin was no where to be found, and they claimed that a lot of stuff was lost when they moved locations the previous week. However they promised to either find it or pay for a new one. I’m still waiting on the resolution to this problem.

May 5 update: I got a call from someone in the Flightcar office who read my feedback survey (in which I mentioned the lost Garmin), and he says the Garmin has been found and they are mailing it to me.

May 15 update: Sadly there was no followup from Flightcar after they told me they found my Garmin. After numerous calls and emails I finally got one of the owners to tell me they have lost it (again!). And now they are offering to reimburse me at only 1/3 of the replacement cost. I think this underscores a problem that Flightcar needs to solve to offer better customer service:  the complete lack of any operational issues tracking system to ensure follow up on problems.

This worries me beyond just suggesting that no one should leave anything of value with the Flightcar staff. If there is an issue with your car, such as someone renting it and getting in to an accident, I’m not confident Flightcar will be able to resolve the problem. If they can not track my relatively small problem with a lost item, what will they do when a car needs repairs? I will report back on the final resolution, but at this point I’d say hold off on renting out your car through Flightcar until they work out these rather major operational issues.

July 28 update: After reaching out to the CEO I was able to get FlightCar to pay for a new Garmin that works with my car. It took several months because of difficulty locating the right model, but the CEO was very helpful and responsive about covering the cost once I explained that my car will only integrate a specific model.