Peer-to-peer airport car rental startup FlightCar is opening in its largest and busiest location yet, as the company has just introduced service at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The launch comes two weeks before one of the busiest travel days in the U.S., as FlightCar hopes to capitalize on the number of travelers coming in and out of L.A. over the course of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
FlightCar, which is kind of like Airbnb for airport car rentals, provides an online marketplace where travelers can make their cars available for rental when they go out of town. Outgoing users drop off their cars at a FlightCar-managed lot, giving them guaranteed free parking and shuttle service to the airport, and incoming renters can choose from available cars that come at a discount to typical car rental prices.
Depending on the make and model, renters can pay anywhere from 50 percent to 70 percent less than they would through a typical car rental agency. Prices start as low as $15 a day, with luxury SUVs renting for $65 each day.
The new Los Angeles lot will be its third and largest location, after San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS), not to mention the one that’s closest to the actual airport. The LAX location has room for up to 110 parked cars, and also has a converted warehouse for facilities, staff usage, and storage.
That will give FlightCar plenty of room to grow, as LAX will likely become its biggest market. With more than 64 million travelers flying through LAX each year, it’s the second busiest airport in the U.S. There’s also not a ton of great public transportation that goes there, meaning there’s a need both for long-term parking for outgoing travelers and rentals for those coming into town.
That, combined with L.A.’s general car culture, means FlightCar has a huge opportunity to attract local travelers with cars who wish to save money on long-term parking, and match them up with out-of-towners who need a way to get around L.A. once they arrive.
The company chose LAX not just for its high volume of travelers, but also for the amount of cross-traffic travel that happens between that airport and its other locations. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there are nearly 200,000 annual travelers between SFO and LAX each year, and nearly 225,000 going between LAX and BOS.
In addition to its launch in the new location, FlightCar has also just unveiled a new mobile web app, which travelers can use to let FlightCar know when they’ve arrived at the airport. Once they deplane, travelers will get a text message with a link to the web app that will ask for them to give their location. Once that’s done, a car will be sent on the way to pick them up from the airport and take them to the FlightCar lot.
FlightCar has raised more than $6 million in funding from investors that include General Catalyst, Softbank Capital, Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky, and Ryan Seacrest’s Seacrest Global Group, as well as Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Posterous founder Garry Tan, Auctomatic founder Harj Taggar, Justin.TV founder Emmett Shear, former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford, First Round Capital, and Andreessen Horowitz.