Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Verdict is still out on FlightCar

Boston, Logan Airport and the 911 Memorial from the roof of Central Parking
FlightCar offers its peer-to-peer car rentals at Boston Logan Airport (BOS)
Photo: Boston, Logan Airport and the 911 Memorial from the roof of Central Parking (wikicommons)

- by Todd Romaine

Its been about a year since FlightCar launched itself with the attempt to radically change the way travelers thought about car rentals and airport parking.

The concept behind FlightCar is to give those that drive their vehicles to the airport a chance to get free parking and a profit in return for allowing the middleman (FlightCar) to rent out their car during their absence. FlightCar's peer-to-peer carsharing model allows travelers the ability to rent private vehicles at a fraction of the cost, in comparison to national and international car rental companies. Think Airbnb for cars.

Since its initial launch last year, FlightCar has expanded from San Francisco to now include Los Angeles and Boston. Despite the oddity of the business model, FlightCar has signed up more than 15,000 members and have had some major financial backers confident that this trend will become a new American, if not global, phenomena.

FlightCar has received some hang-ups, especially from the airport authorities, who want an expensive take on the action. While legal proceedings are ongoing between the various entities, other companies similar to FlightCar have moved in to negotiate contracts with airport authorities and modify their business model to ensure potential customer acquisition is relatively unaffected by cutting another groups into the profit stream.

It is hard to say whether this is a niche market or something that can spread throughout the world. My personal take is that I would only sign-up for this program if I owned a car that had little financial value and where I was relatively indifferent to the wear and tear caused by strangers utilizing my car. It would probably just take one costly mechanical breakdown to conveniently link the expensive bill to the indifference other drivers would have towards my car. And such an experience would probably permanently sour me if the cost was even slightly greater than generated profits.

Everyone, of course, is different. For many, free airport parking, a cleaned car upon arrival and cheque in your pocket after a long trip would be well worth it.

In it's latest twist, FlightCar is going after business travellers, paying them to share their cars - for a fee.

Predictably, international and national car rental agencies may need to lower their cost margins to drown out FlightCar eventually, if it becomes a threat. Likely however, FlightCar would remain a minority player when it comes to the lucrative car rental industry.

While does not offer FlightCar services yet, we do provide very competitive car rental rates at airports around the globe.

Todd Romaine is one of the two Canadian brothers who were the brainchild behind the website. For the story behind our name, read Do we really hate taxis?

Related content:
Need to rent a car? Check out airport car rental rates.

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