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Confirmed: Zipcar Flex drop-off and pick-up to move out of Terminal 5 on 1st April

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Over the weekend we shared the news that Avis is moving out of the Terminal 5 short stay car park, ending the ‘easy pick up’ that many British Airways travellers have enjoyed over the years.

As the Avis website now shows:

When you arrive at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, please proceed to bus stop 25 (located on the arrivals level of Terminal 5) and take a short shuttle journey to our brand-new location at the Holiday Inn London Heathrow, Bath Road, UB7 0DQ. Our team look forward to welcoming you there.

The Budget car rental operation is also moving to the Holiday Inn, as it shares the same parent company.

Zipcar Flex at Heathrow

What is happening with Zipcar Flex?

A few readers asked what was happening with Zipcar Flex, since Zipcar is owned by Avis Budget Group.

We’ve covered Zipcar Flex a few times, because Rhys loves it. It had become his favourite way to get to Heathrow, as this review showed.

Zipcar Flex, if you’re not aware of how it works, is an extra service offered by the Zipcar car share club.

Most people in London will have seen parking bays marked ‘Car Club Only’, often containing a Zipcar-logo’d vehicle. In return for a modest hourly rate, you can rent these cars via the Zipcar app and return them to their parking spot at the end of the trip.

Zipcar Flex is more flexible but more random. In certain London council areas, Zipcar Flex vehicles can be parked in any street parking bay. You don’t take the car back to where you got it from. You open the app, hopefully find a car near where you are, book it and then drop it in a street parking bay at your destination. The only rule is that the destination also needs to be in a local authority area that supports Zipcar Flex.

When Heathrow Airport adopted Zipcar Flex, it meant that you could pick up a car from near your house and drive directly to the Terminal 5 short stay car park. You dropped the car in one of the Avis / Zipcar bays and that was it. As our review showed, Rhys could get from South London to Heathrow in an an hour for £19 compared to taking 90 minutes and three different trains by public transport.

Zipcar Flex also worked in reverse, of course. You could get off your aircraft, walk into Terminal 5’s short stay car park and jump in a Zipcar, as long as you lived in a Flex drop-off area.

Zipcar Flex Heathrow

What is changing with Zipcar Flex?

I spoke with Avis this week and they confirmed that Zipcar Flex pick-up and drop-offs are moving to the Holiday Inn on Bath Road. You can take the shuttle bus from there to the terminal.

Avis is very positive about the move, even though it is less convenient for customers:

  • Avis, Budget and Zipcar will have 120 spaces at the Holiday Inn compared to just 48 in the Terminal 5 car park
  • There will be 40 Electric Vehicle charging points, which were not possible in the Terminal 5 location
  • Vehicles will be washed onsite and will not need to be moved when being put into storage, reducing vehicle movements around the airport
  • The restaurant and cafe in the Holiday Inn will serve Avis and Zipcar customers who want a drink or snack before or after their rental

The Zipcar Flex move happens on the same day as the Avis and Budget move – 1st April 2022.

How to get FREE car rental status and other benefits via UK credit cards (March 2023)

If you hire a car in the UK, you can get special benefits (discounts, upgrades, free additional drivers etc) if you have elite status with a car rental programme. You can get elite status for free via certain American Express cards.

The Platinum Card and American Express Business Platinum

The Platinum Card from American Express and American Express Business Platinum come with two free car hire status cards. Your supplementary Platinum cardholder can also receive status in their own right.

From Avis, you receive President’s Club status in Avis Preferred. This gets you up to 25% off standard rates, a free additional driver and a guaranteed one class upgrade. For weekend rentals you will receive a two class upgrade, subject to availability.

From Hertz, you receive ‘Five Star’ status in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards. This gets you up to 15% off standard rates, a free additional driver and a one class upgrade, subject to availability.

Hertz also offers Platinum cardholders a 4 hour grace period on rentals. Your final day is treated as 28 hours, so a 1pm pick up with a 5pm return the following day is only charged as one day, not two days. We wrote about the Hertz / Platinum 4 hour grace period here.

The Platinum Card also comes with full car hire insurance with no obligation to pay for the rental via American Express. You can refuse any attempts to sell you additional insurance at pick up. This benefit has substantial value if you rent on a regular basis.

You can find more details on the two Platinum cards, and apply, in our full reviews:

Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 30th March) and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is an excellent card in its own right. You receive 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up (convert to 20,000 Avios amongst other things), four airport lounge passes and £120 of Deliveroo credit. Even better, your first year is free.

There are two car rental benefits:

  • you receive Preferred Plus status in Avis Preferred
  • you receive a special package with Hertz – 10% off best available rates at participating locations, a one class upgrade for rentals of 5 days or more, subject to availability, and no additional driver fees

Find out more about the benefits of American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, and apply, in our review:

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

Comments (55)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Cosmo175 says:

    Just had an email confirming the change to the Holiday Inn – and that the £7.50 airport fee will only be dropped during April. Not sure what the justification is for the charge after that and it’s a bit of a cheek really, given that you’re effectively taking the car to the depot for them, where they can clean it, refuel/recharge or undertake maintenance.

    • Gavin454 says:

      Very disappointing! They could at least remove the airport fee (which I thought was supposed to cover the T5 car park?) to make up for making the product so much worse.

  • sloth says:

    looks like they only plan to remove the Heathrow excess for April…

    For the month of April, we won’t be charging the £7.50 Airport Fee that we currently charge customers for using the drop-off and pick up in T5. We hope this gives you the opportunity to try out the new location.

  • Matt says:

    What a shame. I used Zipcar to T5 all the time. I reckon this will add 20-30 mins on to the trip. Together with loading and unloading luggage on the bus it basically destroys all the advantages for using Zipcar to Heathrow.

    I don’t believe their rationale. Clearly a cost play, or Heathrow asked them to leave.

  • Biggles says:

    If they are not in the terminal, they do not provide an acceptable service. Shame

  • lumma says:

    Living in the East End, the only real use for the Zipcar flex to Heathrow was for early morning flights which are too early for public transport (unless I fancy a couple of hours on the N9). I wonder how often the shuttle bus runs during the early hours? It’ll be an even bigger nightmare if T5 isn’t where you’re flying from.

    • Bob says:

      don’t need shuttle bus, there is a bus stop outside. buses U3 (T2/3) or 423 (T5) to the terminal.

  • Bob says:

    went to do an airport drop off at T3 this evening so thought I’d drive by the Holiday Inn. The Avis / Budget section is all ready and it’s at the rear of the Holiday Inn car park so you have to enter the hotel forecourt and go around the hotel to the rear where the Avis bays are. Right outside the Holiday Inn is a bus stop where the U3 (TFL) stops and from there its 2 stops to Heathrow Central for T2/3. Opposite the road the bus stop there is where the 423 stops (TFL) and that will take you to T5. Not sure how long it takes to T5 as a longer distance but for T2/3 the Holiday Inn is very close so the bus journey is 5-10mins.

  • Dermot says:

    Just used it to get to Heathrow T5 and I have to say the new location has almost negated any benefit it used to give us coming from Clapham. 🙁

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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