How to Rent Your Car Out at the Airport
By Aaron Crowe
The sharing economy is everywhere. As a way to put a few extra dollars in your pocket, you can rent out your home, couch, parking space, boat, Wi-Fi, office, or just about anything, including a sewing machine or ladder. Lyft and Sidecar can turn your car into a taxi.
For people going to the airport and looking for ways to avoid paying airport parking fees or not having to hitch a ride from a friend, or looking for cheaper rental cars than what’s available at the airport, a new service called FlightCar is offering an option at airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston.
Calling itself “Carsharing for travelers,” FlightCar lets travelers park for free at a FlightCar lot near an airport, where their car will be rented to other travelers. The car owner is paid from 5 cents to 20 cents per mile (depending on if its a standard or luxury vehicle), for up to 75 miles a day, and 30 cents per mile afterward. Each rental car is insured for up to $1 million by FlightCar.
For renters, the price is about half of what it is from rental car companies, and a lot easier because almost all of the paperwork is done online before the rental occurs, says Kevin Petrovic, a co-founder of FlightCar. No more being asked again and again by a rental agent if you’d like to add insurance or other options.
“We don’t really have pages and pages of paperwork,” Petrovic says. “All of our stuff is right online and you just have to sign it when you’re online.”
Renters get a free GPS and child carseats. Owners also get their car washed and vacuumed before and after the rental, and are dropped off and picked up curbside at the airport by a FlightCar towncar.
They blew the rental cars out of the water” on pricing, says Steve Corcoran, who has used the service three times when flying from his home in Cleveland to San Francisco. Corcoran rented a Toyota Camry and Prius each for $35 a day. He paid about $150 for a car rental from FlightCar, compared to $400 to $600 he was quoted from the major rental car companies.
One drawback was that the thought was always in the back of his mind that the car might break down, Corcoran says, which isn’t something he thinks about with a major rental car company.
“There’s always a risk of something happening,” he says of renting a used car.
But FlightCar came through, even when its car didn’t, he says. He rented a Toyota Rav4, and the battery died on Highway 1 just outside of San Francisco. He called FlightCar, which sent a towncar to pick him up and swap out another car.
Another customer didn’t have as good of an experience.
Although it took awhile to fix, one FlightCar user, Anish Shah, says he left his car with FlightCar in San Francisco for 10 days and found it with three stains and two holes in the car seats when he returned.
The company gave him a loaner car while his car was repaired, but it took weeks of getting the runaround from the site’s owners, Shah says, before his car seats were finally repaired to his satisfaction.
FlightCar accepts only cars in good, working condition that don’t have any major parts not working, Petrovic says. The radio, for example, must be working. Minor car damage is OK. Cars must be 2001 or newer and have less than 150,000 miles.
If your car fits those guidelines, FlightCar may be worth checking out. It could beat paying for long-term parking at an airport and having your car sit there for a week.
Aaron Crowe is a journalist who covers the auto industry for CheapCarInsurance.net.