Last week, my wife and I traveled from New England to New Orleans for a "business trip". Well, it was a business trip for her. Me on the other hand? I spent most of my time wandering the french quarter with a drink in my hand.
Her workplace waited until a couple weeks before the trip to confirm that she was going to be able to go. This makes me aggravated as I normally book airfare as early as possible to get the lowest fare. This late confirmation, however, forced me to look at flying out of Boston instead of Providence, RI, where the fares were $150 cheaper.
Then came time to figure out where to park the car. I hate parking near Logan. It's expensive, it's annoying, and every place is hard to find. That's when I came across FlightCar.
Flightcar is, well, a rental car service that owns no rental cars. They essentially take your car, clean it up and rent it out to "approved renters". I haven't been on that side of their website, so I can't tell what it takes for you to be "approved". They provide free parking, a free car wash and interior vacuum, and free black car service to and from the airport, and a portion of their take in the rental (.05-.15 per mile). If your car isn't rented, you still receive all the same benefits.
FlightCar lets people parking at the airport rent their vehicles out to other approved traveling members. Every rental is insured up to $1 million, and every renter is pre-screened. Members get free parking, a car wash, and get paid if their car is rented out (see how much). Approved members renting a FlightCar get the lowest rental rates guaranteed, with free insurance, free extras and no fees. It's free to join!
Listing your car on the site is relatively easy. Although they had no place for me to state that I owned a wagon. I got a confirmation email, and very clear directions to the location.
We were flying out at 5am, so we needed to drop off the car at 3:30 in the morning. We find the location, a small fenced in lot next to a warehouse, with a little booth. We pull up, and a black town car is waiting for us. Pull into the spot, and someone helps with the luggage while the check-in employee completes a checklist on an ipad. All goes smoothly, and in no time, we're off to the airport.
During the trip, I receive emails that the car has been rented by two different people, their first names included in the email. Flightcar allows them 90 miles per day, anything above that gets paid to the owner of the vehicle at a higher rate. So I figure there will be a couple hundred miles extra on the car when I get home.
The trip comes and goes, and we're on our way home. I get a text and an email a few hours before we are set to arrive with a link to click on once we land back in Boston. Once we get all of our bags, I click the link, which asks a few questions regarding luggage, etc. and the town car is dispatched. A GPS tracker sends information as far as the town car's location en route. The driver's were very friendly and helpful. The car wasn't exactly in top notch shape (I think it had 400k on the odometer), but it was clean and nice enough for the short trip back to the lot.
We arrive at the lot, and my car is at the exit to the lot ready to go. On first glance, I noticed my front bumper is not lined up with the fender. We make a note of it on the ipad, I sign away and in 10 minutes we're on our way out. I'm told to call the next day and they'll make sure the bumper gets fixed. The interior of the car is immaculate. I can never get my car this clean. Ever. They include a full tank of gas (1/4 extra than what I left it with) and let me know that it was used for roughly 140 miles, so I'll be seeing a check for around $14.
I take a look at the bumper the next morning. Turns out, one of the clips popped, probably while someone cleaned the car. The bumper had been fixed in the past and wasn't tightened down all the way. I pop it back in, check for any scuffs, and realize there is no damage. Phew.
Overall, it's a great service for people who wouldn't mind giving up a few miles on their car for a nice detailing, free parking, and a few bucks in their pocket. But I think it also depends on the age of the car. My Saab 9-5 is a 2007, she's got a few dings and scratches, and I love her, but I don't obsess over her. If something happened, I wouldn't have stressed out about it. Had my car been a 2012 or 2013? I probably wouldn't have used the service.
If you are looking for a cheap way to park and fly out of Boston, San Francisco or Los Angeles, I'd definitely recommend Flightcar. You'll probably end up with a car cleaner than the one you left.
*Full Disclosure - I am in no way affiliated with Flightcar and these opinions come from my own personal experience. Your mileage may vary.