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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 (May 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:

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus 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.

  • kwho says:

    Big fan of zipcar flex. However, disappointing communication from Zipcar about this. We do not know if they are increasing the grace 15 mins start of journey. It may take longer to catch the shuttle bus and get to HI and the last thing you’d want on arrival at HI is for your 15mins to expire and find your car has been booked by someone else. Curious as to how they are fixing this problem

  • Boon says:

    This will probably mean I won’t use Zipcar Flex anymore 🙁 a main benefit was the convenience of getting out of a car, and getting to the terminal 5 in minutes. On par with an Uber.

    I hope Zipcar drops their airport extra fee, now that the drop-off and pick-up is not at the Heathrow car park anymore.

    • Mouse says:

      Same for me.

      And why do they insist on the daft spinning that no-one believes for a second? I would have much more respect for a simple “we’re sorry we’ve had to encrappen our service, but as it stood it was no longer economically viable”

  • TB says:

    Does that mean the Staybridge/Holiday Inn car park will now be rammed with hired cars? Usually lots of charging points and parking spaces!!

    • Rob says:


    • Lady London says:

      Plus all the extra comings and goings. With the Avis vehicles being driven by staff not taking enough care, or hirers unfamiliar with their vehicle, frustrated other users of the Holiday Inn doing multiple rounds trying to find a space to park or parked in turning areas, on verges etc out of frustration or waiting for a space to open up. The chance of having your car bumped in the Holiday Inn car park just multiplied by 20.

  • Paul says:

    It does seem as if Heathrow is in terminal decline. They appear intent in driving away customers via their insane charges and corporate greed

    • John says:

      Good, less crowded for those of us who get to Heathrow by bus or tube.

      • Londonsteve says:

        Err, no, it’s the opposite. Zipcar was a way of getting to and from the airport by car, thus avoiding clogging up public transport. Since the service is now considerably less desirable, its users are likely to switch to public transport. I would.

    • Lady London says:

      Nope. Heathrow is a monopoly.
      The government has put Heathrow in a position where they can get away with what they like, and you’ll still have to pay for it.

  • Jack Taylor says:

    Why on earth would anyone use ZipCar to go to Heathrow? The main benefit was the convenience, that will no longer be the case. As someone who uses ZipCar to and from Heathrow almost weekly – they’ve just lost a customer

    • John says:

      How will you get to Heathrow now? Hopefully the viability of your commute doesn’t depend on the presence of a hire car.

    • Londonsteve says:

      It will retain relevance for those travelling with lots of luggage, for whom public transport would be too inconvenient. If it’s the choice between a £19 Zipcar and allowing more time at Heathrow to reach the terminal, versus £70 in an Uber, there will be still be demand for Zipcar, just not from those who used it because it was much quicker than the tube. Probably not much in it now when factoring in the drop-off and bus transfer.

  • Andre says:

    It lost its main selling point. If I need to get a shuttle, I might as well get an uber – it will be quicker and more convenient

  • EvilDoctorK says:

    This might be not terrible for going to the airport ( assuming the shuttle bus service isn’t awful to get you from HI to the terminal, and it’s likely at least as good if you’re going to T2 or 3 ) .. but on arrival at the terminal who’s going to book a Zipcar without knowing when you’ll be able to get to the remote location in time for it to be picked up before your booking expires .. that’s not going to work

    Also hope they ditch the £7 charge .. but I suspect they won’t as there’s still be at least some charge for this new facility

    Shame, but not a surprise given last week’s news.

    BTW in related news the ‘ZipZone’ goes out to Northfields on the Picc line too it’s an option to get the tube towards town and then hop off somewhere in West London and grab a car located near a tube station.

  • The real Swiss Tony says:

    And incase anyone is interested in the additional layer of customer experience denigration here, the parking space I had booked for next week at the Holiday Inn via Your Parking Space has been cancelled, forcing me to book something much more expensive as a result. I believe the hotel no longer offers park, stay & fly packages because of this, either.


    • tom says:

      Glad I read this blog…..

      I had a room only booking made at the Staybridge via the IHG website, but arranged parking directly with the hotel, as I’ve done the past 10 odd stays I’ve had at the HI/SS. Never been an issue and I do rate the hotel.

      I emailed to confirm if my parking was still ok and they said no parking anymore sir! But told me to feel free to stay with them and pay £150 odd for 4 nights parking elsewhere!


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

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