Instead of paying to park your car at the airport, you can now rent your car to another traveler and get it delivered back to your on your return professionally cleaned, gassed up and get a free gas card. Startup FlightCar launched today at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
On the flip side, you can rent someone elses car for substantially less than traditional rental rates and have the car delivered to your at the airport on arrival, skipping the shuttles, lines and paperwork associated with renting a car.
FlightCar manages the pickup, storage, delivery and cleaning of the vehicle both before a renter receives the car and after the rental is complete. Both the owner and renter get picked up and can drop the car off curbside to a FlightCar valet. FlightCar also has insurance lined up to protect the owners car, in much the same way peer-to-peer carsharing companies Getaround, Relay Rides and Wheelz handle this. This video explains FlightCar with some nice illustrations.
FlightCar currently supports one airport (SFO) and a quick search on their site revealed several cars available for rent next week ranging from $28-$41 day. FlightCar says that the cheapest cars will be available for $13/day. These prices are inclusive of taxes, fees and insurance, so they represent real savings over traditional car rental agencies. My searches also revealed a wider variety of vehicles than normally available through car rental agencies including several Mini-vans. Higher capacity vehicles like minivans are normally much more expensive to rent than normal sedans at traditional car rental agencies.
FlightCar rentals are limited to 90 miles per day (averaged across the entire rental) so they won't work out as well for cross-country adventures. Additional miles are $0.35/mile. Additional drivers can be added for $10/each. Renters pay for gas and are expected to bring back vehicles with the same amount of fuel as when they started.
Interestingly, renters between 18-25 can rent FlightCars with no additional charge, as long as the vehicles value is under $40,000. This is a major win for younger renters who are generally excluded or charged extremely high surcharges at traditional car rental places.
Flightcar raised $570,000 in seed funding and is part of YCombinator. Their disruptive startup has a lot of potential, but may hit snags with regulation or get in fights with entrenched airport ground transportation interests. Ensuring that all transactions with travelers who may be in a rush go smoothly is important (although traditional car rental companies are not always known for making smooth or efficient transactions). Ensuring enough staff to pickup, dropoff, park and clean cars may be a challenge at peak times or when travelers schedules or flight plans change.