Flightcar Review – San Francisco Airport

I’m a big fan of collaborative consumption models, so once we had our Yosemite camping trip planned out minus the wheels to get us there, I was excited to try out FlightCar’s rent-a-someone-elses-car-for-cheap model. There were a few bumps, but overall, I’m pleased with the experience. If you’d like to save $20, go ahead and use my FlightCar Referral Code – GRDF. Thanks!

 

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Sign-up/Paperwork

I have a WA State license, which required me to pay for a $13 DOL report. FlightCar’s emails didn’t clearly state that they would be refunding me for the fee, so for awhile I assumed I was eating the expense, and began to get a little weary about what other potential fees there may be with my first FlightCar rental. $13 isn’t a lot, but no one likes the feeling of surprise extra fees. FlightCar could help its own cause by making sure it’s clear they will cover this cost. Making sure all the little step a customer takes are positive ones is crucial for a startup that requires as much trust as FlightCar.

 

Pick-up

I arrived San Bruno BART and called for my pickup. Within minutes a large Ford Excursion pulled up and I got in. Speedy! I was a bit surprised. There were fancy glasses in the back, but no access to water or drinks, which was odd. Seemed as though FlightCar was trying to come off as a luxury service with the glasses, but it fell a bit short.  Branding wise, it may not make sense to present an image of luxury when FlightCar’s brand is build on sharing cars and the cheapest rates. A random sedan or minivan would have been more than acceptable for a pickup since FlightCar is all about the use of random vehicles anyways :-).

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 oh you fancy FlightCar

Right when I got out, I was lead straight to my car. This was the most exciting part of the rental process. It’s beautiful when compared to the lines and paperwork we’ve all gone through at Avis and Hertz. No lobbies and no stressed out families with the crying baby in your ear. It was at this moment when I had that feeling of “yes, FlightCar is awesome”. The fact that this is such a hassle free process is an opportunity for FlightCar that should be touted on the site and in its marketing. No lines, no paperwork. Just keys in your hand when you arrive.

I was provided a Prius, which looked great, but was a problem since I requested a 2001-2008 mid-size sedan. Normally, this wouldn’t have been an issue, but because we were headed to Yosemite with a group of four plus camping gear, we needed a more traditional sedan with more storage.

I was tended to by Fred, who was very helpful and courteous during the vehicle switching process. I waited about 10 minutes, and was provided a Subaru Outback. Fantastic, now we can go Crocodile Dundee in Yosemite and make those rugged nature commercials a reality :-).

The Outback was clean and ready to roll. There was that moment of awkwardness familiarizing yourself with a new vehicle and asking questions that you don’t read in emails. How much gas do I need to bring it back with? How many miles/day can I drive? A basic brochure with standard rules would have been helpful, but not a huge deal since all the info is online.

If FlightCar was interested in going the extra mile,  a little surprise waiting for the customer could be a nice customer experience touch as well. Often, it’s the little unexpected efforts that make an experience worth remembering and talking about. Gagan Biyani, Co-Founder of Sprig, mentioned how their meals come with a little chocolate that is an unadvertised surprised. His feedback has shown it’s one of most memorable parts of the meal, yet is not the most expensive. Perhaps a chocolate or as a fun novelty (California paper maps, those things you had to fold!) would be fun to have when you jump in your first FlightCar.

While driving through the Valley to Yosemite, we realized the Subi didn’t have AC. FlightCar never states that AC will work, so just be aware in case you’re doing some desert driving. Not a huge deal since it’s the best rental deal in town. Guess we can’t have it all.

 

Cost

If you’re driving a vehicle that costs less than $30/day, it may be cheaper to simply extend your Car’s rental if you plan on driving more than the allocated 90 miles/day.

For example, I booked my car for 3 days (270 miles allowed), but clocked over 550 miles on our Yosemite trip. So instead of being charged an additional .45 cents/mile, I simply extended my reservation an extra 3 days (540 mile limit). You can always return a car early at no additional cost.

 

Return

Returning the vehicle was easy. The staff do a quick inspection (1-2 minutes), then drop you off at the San Bruno Bart . Convenient.

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And that’s it! Overall, the experience was a pleasant one. I may be utilizing FlightCar as a Zipcar and RelayRides substitute (services that I also use). Thanks Rujul and the FlightCar team! If you’d like to save $20 on your Flightcar reservation, feel free to use my FlightCar Referral Code – GRDF.

 

Ideas:

FlightCar could begin setting up hubs in cities for people to rent vehicles outside of airport locations in a similar fashion to RelayRides and Zipcar. When transporting cars to and from a hub, they could also pick up customers on the routes as well to provide an extra service not offered by competitors.