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How FlightCar Works

Author: Christopher Harris

FlightCar is the answer to your airport parking woes. The company, started in 2012 was founded by two teenagers who saw an opportunity for alternate airport parking solutions. Kevin Petrovic and Kujul Zaparde deferred admission to Princeton and Harvard to launch the company and, just recently, they're received $13.5 million in financing to expand their business to other cities and airports.

What is FlightCar?

FlightCar is so simple that it's crazy that no one's come up with the idea before. People flying out of town can choose to park their car at FlightCar's lot (saving them the $30 or so dollars that an airport lot would charge) and FlightCar will rent the car out to someone who's just arrived in town. If a car isn't rented out, the car owner will still receive the benefit of free parking, along with a free car wash. If the car is rented out, the car's owner gets a cut of the rental fee (about $0.05 per mile driven).

How Does It Work?

First, a customer decides to rent his car out at FlightCar. He heads online, signs up for FlightCar and lists his car for rent. The day he leaves, he drops his car off at FlightCar's lot, performs an inspection where an average of 25 pictures of the car are taken, and is then driven to the airport by a FlightCar shuttle. When the customer returns, the shuttle picks him up at the airport, another inspection is completed and, if the car was rented while the owner was away, he will receive a check for the mileage in the mail.

Meanwhile, a person arriving at the airport has gotten into the same shuttle as our hypothetical owner and is arriving at FlightCar to pick up a car. He has previously signed up to be a renter on FlightCar's website and has had his driving record verified to ensure that he meets the renter requirements. He picks up a washed car, does an inspection for damages, and drives away. At the end of the contract he returns the car, does another inspection, and is shuttled to the airport. The rental car is washed and then waits for its owner, safely parked in FlightCar's lot.

What Could Go Wrong?

In short, a lot can go wrong. For starters, cars can be damaged. While FlightCar has decent insurance that covers damage up to $1 million dollars, owners will still have the hassle of having to use a loaner car during the time it takes for FlightCar to get the car repaired.

Next, there's the potential for cars being stolen. FlightCar's solution: they'll simply lend an owner another car until his is found. If an owner's flights are changed and he arrives early, again, FlightCar will lend him another car until his is returned.

Finally, if a renter gets a parking/speeding ticket or uses a toll road FlightCar recommends that he pay for it straight away to avoid an administration fee. If not, the car owner can send the unpaid ticket to FlightCar for payment.

The Bottom Line

FlightCar is currently operating in only 14 markets across the United States, a number that means that most people won't even have heard of the company, let alone experienced the service. As the company expands, its millennial founders will have to remember that internet reviews can make or break a young company with a new idea. A quick Yelp (YELP) search shows that the California FlightCar stations aren't doing so well. Complaints about service, slow payment and other problems could possibly overshadows the decent reviews in Baltimore and Austin. Perhaps the company should use its recent investment to improve customer expectations before wowing new cities with its cost saving business.

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