Penny, left, and Marty Puranik load their luggage
into a rental Prius at FlightCar Wednesday, Aug.
7, 2013 in Millbrae, Calif. They just arrived on a
business trip from Florida. FlightCar is a
car-sharing service that allows travelers to leave
their cars in a parking lot so that others can
rent it while they are gone.
JOSE — Parking a car at the airport can be a money
drain for travelers — the vehicle sits there idly
while the driver shells out $15 or $20 a day.
FlightCar, a San Francisco startup that gives travelers
free parking near the airport and, instead of just
letting the car sit there idly, rents it to other
travelers passing through. Think of it as Airbnb for
not really a rental car company and it’s not really a
parking company; it’s sort of in the middle,"
said co-founder and President Kevin Petrovic.
recently began offering its services at Mineta San Jose
International Airport, giving travelers who are flying
out of San Jose an alternative to the $15-a-day parking
fee, and those flying into the city an alternative to
traditional car rental services. FlightCar delivers and
picks you up from the airport.
and co-founder and CEO Rujul Zaparde — both age 20 and
Ivy League dropouts — say they are tapping into the
blossoming tech sector of companies that make apps and
websites that allow people to loan or sell their
personal belongings — their apartment, clothes, car or
baby items — to someone else for a fee. Such companies
include Airbnb, Poshmark, Getaround, Thredup and dozens
people are going to have extra assets that they may not
need and are willing to share it, and other people are
willing to rent it at the right price," said Hans
Tung, managing partner at GGV Capital, which led a $13.5
million financing round for FlightCar last year.
"It is good for the economy overall and it’s good
for the individual."
works like this: Sign up through the website (the mobile
app is still in development) and, if your car meets
their criteria — not more than 150,000 miles, not
older than 14 years — park it at one of their lots for
free during your trip.
gives customers using our airport other options for both
renting cars and parking personal vehicles, so we were
happy to work with them," said Rosemary Barnes,
car rentals average about $25 to $30 a day — about
half or less than the daily rate of an economy car from
Hertz or Dollar rental companies at San Jose Airport —
but vary depending on location and the season. The
service is now at 10 airports, including San Francisco
and Oakland, and has 50,000 members on its site.
owners who leave their cars with FlightCar can make 5 to
20 cents per mile driven by a renter, and FlightCar
keeps the rest of the rental fee. Not all cars are
rented — the older clunkers often sit idle — but
FlightCar lets all cars park for free regardless.
Renters aren’t supposed to drive the car more than 225
miles, and if they do, they face a surcharge of 45 cents
a mile, 40 cents of which goes to the car owner.
only do I get free parking, but sometimes I get a little
bonus," said Carol Young, who began using FlightCar
in 2013 for her trips out of San Francisco Airport.
Young flies about eight times a year for work; she makes
about $20 to $80 each time she leaves her new Honda
cleans the car before and after it is rented, so
"there is no hint of the fact someone was even ever
in there," she said.
the thought of some stranger driving your personal
vehicle while you’re across the country may not sit
well with everyone, Young said. She said some of her
friends were repulsed by the idea.
just depends on your personality," she said.
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there is always the risk of an accident, particularly on
the Bay Area’s clogged freeways. FlightCar carries $1
million liability insurance that covers any damage or
injury caused by the FlightCar renter to another vehicle
or person. The company will also pay for all repairs to
the FlightCar customer’s vehicle. The car owner, then,
never has to use personal auto insurance.
company launched in February 2013 with a partnership
with SFO, where long-term parking costs $18 a day. It
has raised more than $20 million from investors
including actor Ashton Kutcher and Reddit and Hipmunk
co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and venture capital firms GGV
Capital and General Catalyst Partners.
transportation startups have been vying for access to
Bay Area airports, which provide an easy hub of
passengers and revenue. RelayRides, a San
Francisco-based peer-to-peer car-sharing service, also
offers car rentals at all Bay Area airports, and free
parking at SFO. Last year, ride-hailing apps Sidecar,
Lyft and Uber — after a hard-fought battle with
regulators — inked a deal to pick up and drop off
passengers at SFO.
is allowed at San Jose, for drop-offs only, and none of
the services are allowed at Oakland. The problem, said
Barnes, is the companies’ questionable insurance
very much hope to be able to accommodate that business
model when the right time presents itself," Barnes
quick growth is because the company has been upfront
working with airport officials and secured all the
permits and paid all the fees asked of it, Tung said.
After battling with Uber and Lyft, he said, FlightCar’s
above-the-board approach probably came as a relief.
Tung: "We see airports being more receptive to
someone willing to come forward sooner and ask for
permission rather than ask for forgiveness later."