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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.

  • Froggitt says:

    The free Heathrow bus is dead. Long live the new free Heathrow bus (so long as you’re staying at the HI).

  • The Lord says:

    Overall this is a negative but one positive is it now makes ZipCar more attractive when flying from T2 & T3. I imagine the shuttle is under 10mins to those terminals? Question is how frequent will the shuttles be, will the £7.50 airport surcharge now be removed and as others have pointed out, the 15min reservation window is surely going to have to increase to 30mins

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    BA still lists as a gold benefit “As a Gold Member you will receive complimentary Avis Priority Rental Service, delivering your rental car directly outside the Arrivals Hall at London Heathrow Terminal 5”

    I’ve not used this in a long time but it predates the Avis office in the T5 car park. Basically if you were gold with an Avis booking you could walk out of arrivals, cross the road (no need to take the lift anywhere) and you had to enter a code for the key locker to get the keys for your car.

    The occasional times I’d used that service it was never automatic and I had to email to request it and it didn’t seem worth doing once the office in T5 opened. But if it still exists now then it’s a benefit worth taking.

    • Paul says:

      BA will get around to updating their web site in about 5 years!

    • Peter Taysum says:

      I mentioned this on the Avis thread; as Gold this NEVER happened for me; there was no explanation as to how it worked… Given Avis did nothing to recognise status for me during lockdown(s) I’ve lost any/all sense of loyalty. With moving out of T5 just won’t use them…

  • Gavin454 says:

    Very bad news! I use Zipcar to T5 frequently when I have a lot of luggage (especially for ski trips). From South London it’s not feasible to take the tube with big bags, and I find Zipcar cheaper and a better option than taking a taxi.

    Having to go to bath road and take a shuttle removes the key benefit of being able to drive up to T5 and put all the heavy and awkward luggage straight onto a trolley. I hope they will at least remove the £7.50 charge, but even then it’s still a lot less attractive now. I can imagine around 20-30 minutes (plus luggage hassle) will be added onto a journey that usually takes only 45-60 minutes.

  • High grade says:

    Zipcar obviously had an airport service that worked. I personally found it the best way to get to the airport. If 2 of us were travelling then not only was it incredibly convenient it also worked out pretty cost effective when compared to cabs and public transport from south London.
    Hopefully they will bring back the short stay parking when they see a decline in usage at their new location, but they’ll only do that if there is a decline in usage. I guess it depends how good the shuttle bus is.

    • Rob says:

      The key issue is what Heathrow charges for the car parking slots, which I imagine is hundreds per week per slot. The lack of EV charging capability in T5 is a problem for them too as the Zipcar fleet swaps over. It’s more likely they scrap Zipcar Flex at Heathrow is usage drops.

  • insider says:

    Very bad news indeed! This was a gem of a service, I could get to West London from T5 and vice versa for £9 if there was no traffic. For some reason, they never charged me the surcharge. The convenience of walking straight out the terminal past the line of ubers and getting into a Zipcar was amazing.

  • SP says:

    Well that’s just killed using Zipcar to Heathrow for me, I’m not going to waste time faffing around with shuttle buses. For me it was the best option on a time and cost basis, but I’ll be switching back to Uber or Bolt now. There’s been no communication on this from Zipcar which is disappointing. All those reasons for moving Zipcar sound like benefits to the operator, there are no positives for the customer

  • Ubiquarian says:

    Avis Priority at T5 was no longer in effect last month even though bookings still issued with key codes and pick up instructions. Perhaps Avis might consider bringing it back now that they are offsite again as part of BA Exec Club relationship and that end of the T5 car park had space for 5 or 6 cars and was mostly unused. This loss of convenience for Zipcar Flex is a big blow and I don’t really see how this creates any improvement over the main Avis site.

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

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