FlightCar Lets Air Travelers Park for Free, Rent Out Their Rides

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Approximately 360,000 cars are parked in long-term parking lots in the top 30 U.S. airports at any moment. Photo: Flickr/Rob_sg

Approximately 360,000 cars are parked in long-term parking lots in the top 30 U.S. airports at any moment. Photo: Flickr/Rob_sg

You pay to park your car at the airport, then shell out more cash for a rental at your destination.

Did you ever wish you could make money off of your car while you’re away or find a more affordable alternative to pricey rentals? Well, now you can. And that’s good news for the 360,000 cars sitting in long-term parking lots in the top 30 U.S. airports at any moment.

A new service called FlightCar lets travelers leave their cars in the company’s lot for free, then rents those vehicles out to incoming fliers.

FlightCar listers are given rides to their terminals in black town cars and, after they return, checks for the use of their vehicles — averaging $30 for a five-day rental or up to 20 cents per mile for newer luxury models. Every renter is screened, and each car is insured up to $1 million in liabilities or damages. And, just as you’d expect from a traditional rental agency, vehicles are washed and vacuumed after each use.

Even if the lister’s car isn’t rented, parking is still free.

Founded by Shri Ganeshram, Kevin Petrovic and Rujul Zaparde, all 18 when the company was founded, FlightCar launched in San Francisco in February 2013, then expanded to Boston and Los Angeles. It is one of the latest businesses to crop up as part of the new sharing economy, a system based on peer-to-peer lending that allows people to reduce waste and save money by bartering, donating, swapping or renting their goods and services. Petrovic and Zaparde say they were inspired by Airbnb, another San Francisco–based sharing business that allows people to rent rooms or entire houses from private individuals rather than hotel chains.

So far, FlightCar has raised more than $5.5 million from investors like Brian Chesky (the founder and CEO of Airbnb), General Catalyst Partners, Softbank Capital and Alexis Ohanian (a co-founder of Reddit).

“I think they buy into the concept,” Zaparde said of FlightCar’s backers in a recent interview with financial media outlet Benzinga.com. “I think Airbnb has been the poster child for the sharing economy and they see potential for other start-ups and other companies in the sharing economy.”

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