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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.

  • Thom says:

    Well this is a shame; found ZipCar fantastic to and from T5. Once the Elizabeth line opens I guess driving to Acton Mainline / West Ealing could be a viable option.

  • MJ says:

    “In certain London council areas, Zipcar Flex vehicles can be parked in any street parking bay.”

    I find this as misleading as Zipcar’s own marketing on this. The rules vary from council to council on what parking is available for zip flex rentals. For instance, in tower hamlets you get stung with pcns when dropping the car in pay and display bays whereas in Hackney it’s not a problem.

    • Bob says:

      they have info on their site inc pictures for each council and what’s valid

  • will says:

    Having just returned from Dubai, I can’t really get my head around how you can both collect and drop a car off at Dubai within a stroll of the terminal building (on drop off departures is literally a pedestrian crossing away from the drop off) and yet at LHR the entire process is always busses and waiting.

    I guess that’s the downside of taking a small airfield and bolting bits on with no long term plan. Roll on the 3rd runway 🙁

    When will we actually make 5/10/50 year plans for infrastructure and population change in this country?

    • Dubious says:

      I thought Dubai started off the same way…there is a lot about DXB that is inefficient and part of the reason they built DWC.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      Lets see how well HS2 turns out.

    • BlueThroughCrimp says:

      Good question.
      Not putting HS2 to Heathrow is the classic example of how we just can’t plan properly.

      AMS, FRA, CDG all have attached Inter/EuroCity stations and have done for decades.

    • Londonsteve says:

      “When will we actually make 5/10/50 year plans for infrastructure and population change in this country?”

      Err, never. Forget it. If you’re looking for that sort of thing emigrate.

  • sloth says:

    just received a price increase email from them but no mention of T5 changes…

    In response to the increasing costs of operating, our prices will be changing from 4th April. Despite absorbing as much of the increases as we can until now, the inflationary pressures mean we, unfortunately, do now have to pass on some of the increased costs we are seeing, particularly around fuel prices.

    Our Roundtrip rates will therefore increase by £0.50/hour and £5/day. Please note if you have an existing booking planned for after 4th April, the original rate will be honoured.

    Our Flex rates will align to our member rate plans, so as with Roundtrip rates, those on paid plans will now get a lower rate than those on our Basic plan. We have also introduced a slightly higher rate for weekend use, in line with our Roundtrip rates.

    As a Basic plan member, the weekday Flex rate will increase by £0.04/min and £2/hour and by £0.05/min and £2.50/hour at weekends. We have also increased the Flex day rate to be more closely aligned with our Roundtrip day rates.

    All additional mileage will now be charged at £0.29/mile, bringing alignment across all vehicle types in the fleet.

  • Lady London says:

    Amongst all the advantages Avis is mentioning that will also lose them their USP of convenient T5 location, did Avis also mention it will now become a nightmare for people staying at the Holiday Inn needing to park their car?

  • ADS says:

    “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.”

    And from 1st April for travel TO the airport he would probably need to leave an extra half hour to catch the shuttle bus, and spare time in case there was a delay in the shuttle bus! Presumably Rhys will no longer use Zipcar to get to Heathrow?

    Although it may still be attractive for travel FROM heathrow – especially if landing fairly late in the evening. Which would rather screw up Zipcar balancing arrivals and departures!

    • Gavin454 says:

      I have the same situation from South London – I will probably go back to using the tube, and if I have unwieldy luggage (eg ski bags) then I’ll also use Airportr. For early departures, not travelling during rush hour, a taxi is probably better. I’ll probably use Zipcar coming FROM Heathrow only if I have awkward bags.

      When the Elizabeth Line opens it should make the journey faster and easier.

      Such a shame. The Zipcar service was so useful and convenient!

      • Londonsteve says:

        Beware: it’ll be a while before you can catch a train at Heathrow and travel on the same service to central London stations. As far as I understand your Heathrow train will continue to terminate at Paddington mainline platforms and to continue with the Elizabeth Line, you’ll have to navigate Paddington tube station to the low-level platforms from where trains will depart to Abbey Wood. An absolute pain and it introduces another change with luggage, so it will remain easier to take to Piccadilly Line for most people.

  • Bob says:

    don’t have to rely on shuttle buses – – local buses operate from the hotel to both T5 and T2/3

  • e14 says:

    No airport fee for April, but what happens beyond that

    From 1st April, we will be moving our Heathrow operation to an off-airport location at the Holiday Inn Bath Road.

    As part of the move, there is now a free, short bus journey between the terminal and the hotel car park. The bus departs from bus stop 25 at T5 and will shuttle customers to and from the airport.

    The buses will be available 24 hours a day to ensure we cover all customer movements at all times of the day.

    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.

    Why are we making the move?

    We want to scale our operation at Heathrow, and this gives us access to 4 times as many spaces as we previously had in the terminal.

    We will be able to maintain and charge electric vehicles, helping us on our way to our 2025 vision of going fully electric.

    This new location allows us to clean and service the vehicles on-site, removing 80% of the journeys needed to maintain our vehicles that come to Heathrow.

    To find out more, head to our airports page.


    • ADS says:

      “we want to scale our operation”

      But by moving away from the terminals – they are ensuring that the customer demand will be reduced


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