If you’re traveling alone and have a small suitcase, Car2go’s new airport service in Seattle is an affordable, reliable option.
Otherwise, I’d advise another method of transportation.
Car2go this week debuted a new feature that allows people to drop off and pick up its vehicles off at a parking lot nearby Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Users can rent one of Car2go’s 750 free-floating cars in the Seattle area and drop them off at the Wally Park Premier Garage (18613 International Blvd) before taking a 5-minute complimentary shuttle ride to the terminal. You can also rent a car after arriving at Sea-Tac.
It’s an identical service to what BMW ReachNow rolled out in August — see our review for that here. Zipcar also has a similar program. All three companies rent out parking spots at the same Wally Park garage.
I had a chance to test Car2go’s service on Wednesday. I’ve only tried Car2go once before, a few years ago. Nonetheless, using the app to find and reserve a vehicle was fairly seamless.
On my way to the vehicle, I passed a ReachNow car. Knowing that I was picking up GeekWire collaborator and photographer Kevin Lisota on my way to the airport, I wondered if ReachNow would be the best option given the extra storage space. I stuck with Car2go, but this reminded me of the increasing number of tech-powered transportation options in Seattle (Car2go, ReachNow, Zipcar, Uber, Lyft, etc.)
A few minutes later, I arrived at my Car2go and unlocked the driver-side door with the app — nice. But that’s when my trouble started.
First, the car itself smelled a bit odd and a previous driver left the remains of their morning iced coffee. Seriously? Clean up after yourselves, people.
Since I’m a bit of a Car2go noob, I couldn’t figure out how to open the Smart Fortwo trunk doors. I should have watched this video, apparently.
As the minutes ticked away, I was worried that we’d miss our flight. Perhaps I should call Uber, or go snag that ReachNow down the street.
But my Car2go trip had technically started, so I decided to call support and got someone on the line quickly, which was impressive. The customer service rep helped me figure out the trunk issue. I ended up reserving another Car2go a few blocks away — this is possible when there are 750 vehicles floating around — and finally began my trip to Sea-Tac.
I stopped to pick up Kevin on my way to the airport from North Seattle. Between us, we had three suitcases and two backpacks — and we barely got everything to fit.
Lack of space wasn’t the only issue. Car2go’s vehicles don’t provide the same performance as a BMW 3-series, or even a MINI, to say the least.
My particular vehicle also seemed to have a problem with the emergency brake light. The radio didn’t work, nor did the dashboard touchscreen. For a brand owned by Mercedes Benz, this was disappointing. It all seems to be a result of normal wear-and-tear, but still — having newer vehicles is an advantage for ReachNow.
It’s also just a tight fit — especially when you pack luggage.
We made it to the garage — there were no automatic location-based notifications that popped up on the screen when I approached, unlike what ReachNow does. Parking the vehicle was simple; I ended the trip, we waited a few minutes for the shuttle, and arrived five minutes later.
The one advantage Car2go has over BMW is price. It normally charges $0.41 per minute, but recently temporarily dropped that rate to $0.35 per minute. BMW charges $0.49 per minute, but is charging $0.41 at its own promotional rate.
Car2go also charges $14.99 per hour, but dropped that temporarily to $10 per hour. Once you hit $10 on the per-minute rate, Car2go caps the price until you keep driving after 60 minutes.
That’s why my 51-minute ride cost $12.90 from North Seattle to the WallyPark garage, including tax. The final price doesn’t take into account the $5 airport fee that Car2go normally charges but is temporarily waiving. Still, at $17.90, that’s 20-to-30 percent cheaper than ReachNow.
Car2go vehicles are great for short trips around the city, and the compact size is nice for parking into small spaces. But if you’re traveling with more than two people, or have more than a few bags, it’s probably best to go with ReachNow, Zipcar, or another method of transportation to the airport, if you don’t mind the premium.
But here’s how Car2go can up its airport game: make those Mercedes B-Class vehicles available in Seattle.