After hearing all the buzz about FlightCar, I decided to take the plunge and try it out for myself. I had a trip in April 2014 to Los Angeles coming up and after doing a quick search, FlightCar not only had a car available, but at just $15/day it was also much cheaper (almost half price) compared to Avis, Hertz, Budge Rent A Car and most brand name LAX airport rental car locations. Before I go into my review, let me give you a quick overview of FlightCar.
FlightCar is a car rental start up that gives people free air port parking and a free car wash and vacuum. In exchange you allow them to rent your car out while you are away. If you car is rented you receive 10 cents per mile. While this seems scary to some, I could see people saving a lot of money with this service with relatively little risk. In fact, if you are a renter FlightCar examines your driving history, and requires you put down a $300 security deposit on the car at the time of rental. Finally, they also add $1M of insurance, which is added to the rental car rate. Hence, the $15/day that I was quote was “all in,” I meaning I didn’t have to pay a single cent more! Seems like a win-win for both parties.
FlightCar Review LAX Airport
I arrived at Los Angeles International Airport late on a Monday night and gave the representative at FlightCar a call to request a pickup by a black car. The agent said the wait would be only 10 minutes, and to wait at the curb. About 8 minutes later I received a call from the driver who asked me to move to a different location and a minute later I was on my way to their rental location. So far, so good! Most rental car company shuttles take forever to arrive, are generally crowded, and have to stop to pick up passengers at every terminal.
This is where my Flight Car experience went rapidly downhill.
To my chagrin when I arrived at the FlightCar LAX location at 9020 Bellanca Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90045, I noticed one of the staff members trying to jump start a 2007 Nissan Altima. I was thinking “damn I hope that’s not my car!” Sure enough, the attendant gave me a menacing grin, and said indeed it was my car, but after a quick jump start it should be fine. Mistakenly, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and accepted the rental car. He then pulled out an iPad air, verified my drivers license and credit card number and then I was off. The process took about 20 min including the jump. I did voice my concern about the dead battery, but the staff member said “don’t worry about it we have free roadside assistance, just call the number if you have an issue.”
Overall the car was in pretty bad shape. It was somewhat clean, but had some grime on the steering wheel and in the seat compartment. The car clearly had not been taken care of well and there were dents and scratches all over it. I’m guessing that anyone who is willing to leave their for rent with Flight Car really doesn’t car about either keeping their car clean or damage done to it.
Fast forward to the next morning and of course my car won’t start because the battery is dead. I call the FlightCar LAX phone number (844) 435-8227, and the representative answered and offered to send a tow truck, but asks if there is anyone near my car that could give me a jump? I couldn’t believe the nerve of this agent, to even ask me that! Being in a relatively shady part of town off Century Blvd, I said no just send the tow truck and he tells me that it would be 1-2 hours for the truck to arrive. What? When I had an issue with AAA they would send someone in 30 minutes, and sometimes less. 2 hours? I needed to get to work, so he suggested leaving the car parked on the street and coming back after work to meet the tow truck.
After work I called roadside assistance again and they agreed to send a tow truck immediately. To FlightCar’s credit, the tow truck arrive in less than 30 min and game me a jump start. It had a good laugh when the tow truck guy said the battery was “deader than a door nail.” Upon returning to the car rental location, the attendant was actually expecting me and had my car already ready! It took less than 5 minutes and I was off with a brand new 2013 Volkswagen Passat with a nav system and satellite radio. Now that’s more like it! The attendant even deducted my first day of charges without my even having to ask.
The rest of my rental went very smoothly and as you can imagine I loved the car. In fact, when I returned my car it was less than 1 hour before my flight and the checkout process + taking a black car to the airport was so fast that I made it to my flight in plenty of time! The process was much faster than the typical brand name LAX car rental location.
Despite the hiccup, I must say that I had a decent experience at the FlightCar LAX. Reviews of this location have not been great and I think that they are going through some growing pains. Besides the car with a dead batter, renting a car with Flight Car was fast, easy, and efficient. They seemed to go out of their way to correct their mistake and make sure the rest of my car rental went smoothly.
Would I Recommend the LAX FlightCar to a Friend?
Despite my problems, the answer is yes, and I’ve already recommended them to at least 5 friends. While the dead battery story is entertaining, I think they have an interesting business model. While the Los Angeles Airport FlightCar location is new and still undergoing some growing pains, the service they provide helps people save money on both sides of the coin. In fact, I think our economy is headed in the direction of sharing rather than owning. People are now warming up to the idea that you don’t have to have 100% control and ownership of something to make is useful to you, sometimes it’s cheaper and easier to simply share an asset. Think about all those cars sitting empty for weeks in a airport parking lot. They could be used by honest and thoughtful people instead of sitting there collecting dust and paying a lot to do it!