Rental Car hint/tip/gripe/trick/review/kvetch Thread

Jim K

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Richard Digits
Rental cars are a big part of the experience when travelling GA. When I first started flying pre-covid, they were easy, cheap, and awesome. These days they are the hardest part of planning a trip. I wanted a place to collate my experiences and questions.

What pushed me over the edge was our recent experience in Virginia. Instead of flying into the Newport News class D, I elected to use the uncontrolled Williamsburg airport. I did this mainly to save on fees, but in the end I don't think I saved anything. Had I used the bigger airport, car rental would've been on the field. At the smaller airport, I started with the Enterprise GA phone number. I was told "our agreement with the airport expired, so we can't deliver there". I called the airport and they claimed enterprise had just dropped one off yesterday. A call to the local Enterprise office went unanswered.

So I found that Hertz has a local office, they advertise they will drop the car off, and they're $100 cheaper. So I set up the reservation, and follow the instruction to call the local office to set up delivery. "We don't have enough staffing to do that". Awesome. Uber it is I guess. Did I mention there's no courtesy car?

It wound up working okay, but we decided to extend our trip by a day to avoid strong headwinds going home. The folio gave a number to call if you need to extend, so I did. The ESL speaker who picked up flatly said she couldn't extend it. Awesome. I then called the local office, and got "no problem...okay you're all set". Sigh.

So that's the whine and maybe a hint: here's the question: My uncle mentioned a couple days ago that he reserved a car through Costco, and he claimed it's the only way to do it. Anybody have experience with that program? I assumed it would be hard to get cars dropped off that way, but that appears to be a thing of the past now anyway.

Any other hints or recent experiences would also be welcome.
 
At KMQI - Dare county near the outer banks, a local Ford Dealer does rentals. Very easy, reasonable price and dropped off at the airport. At less developed airports might be an option if the the town is not too far away.
 
Same on the Ford dealer @ Mena, AR - seamless, simple and car waiting for us @ the airport.
 
My first phone call is always to the FBO to see who they have the best service from.
I've had mixed results with this. A couple times they've arranged it for me, this seems to happen more with the bigger FBO's that are used to servicing jets. I know Flightstar does this commonly, although it helps that all three major rental companies have presence on the field. Smaller uncontrolled fields will half the time give a suggestion and half the time seem really confused by the question. More often than not, they say, "call this number" and proceed to give me the Enterprise GA line.
 
It’s definitely hit or miss, but if there is local knowledge required, it’s the best first step. It’s true that some are no help, but you also get some that will completely set up a reservation, point you towards the local car dealer, or at least say, “stay away from XXXXX, because they never deliver the car on time.
 
Rental cars are really struggling. I mean, I think this is your 2nd thread on the topic. What I think we (PoA) should do is to offer up our spare cars to our local airport as our own PoA crew cars. I met a guy at a Wisconsin airport who offered me his Jeep no problem.
 
A friend uses Turo and loves it. Not sure it would be available everywhere though.
 
Again, that’s why my first call is always to the airport. Many times, I’ve gotten “no need to rent a car, we’ll let you take our crew car overnight. Recently in Mississippi, the FBO manager tossed me the keys to his six month old Ford Bronco to go get lunch.
 
Rental cars are a pain. Hertz has morphed into one of, if not the worst. Booked a car for 3pm at the FBO. Was able to get there earlier so I called the FBO prior to leaving to see if the car was already there. They called Hertz and were told they’ll drop off the car at around 1. So, I plan my arrival for 1. Arrived at the FBO shortly after 1, no car. Waited until 1.45, still no car so FBO calls local Hertz office again. “We’re on the way, will be there in 30 minutes” they say. 30 minutes later, still no car. I tell myself, after having wasted almost two hours at the FBO, fair enough, my original booking was for 3 so chill. At 3, I get an email with my activated Hertz contract and charge on my credit card, but still no car in sight. I booked a Tesla but saw on the contract it’s some Kia EV. No big deal. Contract states car has 9,009 miles, keep that in mind. 3.30, still no car, I’m on the phone with Hertz executive customer care, nobody able to help. They say for all they know, I already have the car. FBO, trying to organize another car for me already. Almost 4, a Hertz employee walks in, drops off the keys and says “enjoy”. I turn on the car, battery at 40% and 9,124 miles on the car instead of 9,009. That a**hat took the car for a joyride for a few hours while I’m wasting hours at the FBO. Cheetahs crumbled in the trunk and a strong smell of very recent McDonald’s food in the car. I’ve had issues of that nature where Hertz employees are straight up fraudulent at too many locations by now - I have to start believing it’s not an individual issue, it is a senior level issues - maybe they’re the frauds and employees just reflect them. Rant over. Booked Budget at my next destination.
 
As previously stated we also call the FBO for their best advice and contact info.

On our most recent call for a rental the prices were crazy high. Four days were $600 for our typical small SUV. The best price was an EV Tesla at $400. I’m NOT doing electric, this old fart is finally getting the Uber app.
 
Rental cars are really struggling. I mean, I think this is your 2nd thread on the topic.
3rd maybe. I'm thinking in the future I can contain it to this one. The last rental I had that went smoothly was one arranged by the FBO in Cody, WY. Had a couple good ones pre-covid, but since then it's been a nightmare. I'm getting ready to start booking things for a Grand Canyon trip this summer (I suspect I'm going to wish I did it six months ago...), and I'm already dreading it.
On our most recent call for a rental the prices were crazy high. Four days were $600 for our typical small SUV.
That's the one bright spot about our last rental; it was under $300 for the week for a 7 passenger Chevy Traverse. Seems like Hertz has been real cheap as of late....trying to win back customers after having them arrested for theft?
 
Rental cars are a pain. Hertz has morphed into one of, if not the worst. Booked a car for 3pm at the FBO. Was able to get there earlier so I called the FBO prior to leaving to see if the car was already there. They called Hertz and were told they’ll drop off the car at around 1. So, I plan my arrival for 1. Arrived at the FBO shortly after 1, no car. Waited until 1.45, still no car so FBO calls local Hertz office again. “We’re on the way, will be there in 30 minutes” they say. 30 minutes later, still no car. I tell myself, after having wasted almost two hours at the FBO, fair enough, my original booking was for 3 so chill. At 3, I get an email with my activated Hertz contract and charge on my credit card, but still no car in sight. I booked a Tesla but saw on the contract it’s some Kia EV. No big deal. Contract states car has 9,009 miles, keep that in mind. 3.30, still no car, I’m on the phone with Hertz executive customer care, nobody able to help. They say for all they know, I already have the car. FBO, trying to organize another car for me already. Almost 4, a Hertz employee walks in, drops off the keys and says “enjoy”. I turn on the car, battery at 40% and 9,124 miles on the car instead of 9,009. That a**hat took the car for a joyride for a few hours while I’m wasting hours at the FBO. Cheetahs crumbled in the trunk and a strong smell of very recent McDonald’s food in the car. I’ve had issues of that nature where Hertz employees are straight up fraudulent at too many locations by now - I have to start believing it’s not an individual issue, it is a senior level issues - maybe they’re the frauds and employees just reflect them. Rant over. Booked Budget at my next destination.
If you want some entertainment, search for videos about Hertz by Steve Lehto on YouTube…several legitimate renters have had really inconvenient days due to hertz not keeping their inventory straight and reporting the cars as stolen. Overbooking and sending renters all over town because “branch x has more cars” only to discover they in fact don’t. Fortunately they are/were getting sued over some of their shenanigans.
 
Go Rentals (if available). They tracked our flight inbound, pulled the car right up to the plane when we landed. We jumped in and drove off. Didn't even go into the FBO. (KDTS). Highly recommend.
 
lol Williamsgburg (KJGG) doesnt really have an "FBO" there. There is a restaurant, fuel, a flight school, and maintenance. It doesnt have a lot in amenities for a traveler to come in, but its a lot friendlier than nearby KPHF. Yes rental cars are not available and no one delivers there - so you're best bet is to just uber (fairly plentiful) to either the Hertz office about 6 miles away, or Enterprise (no idea where that is). Its a small local airport that has good people - but no real amenities. Im based there, so I love it.
 
lol Williamsgburg (KJGG) doesnt really have an "FBO" there. There is a restaurant, fuel, a flight school, and maintenance. It doesnt have a lot in amenities for a traveler to come in, but its a lot friendlier than nearby KPHF. Yes rental cars are not available and no one delivers there - so you're best bet is to just uber (fairly plentiful) to either the Hertz office about 6 miles away, or Enterprise (no idea where that is). Its a small local airport that has good people - but no real amenities. Im based there, so I love it.
The guys behind the counter were super friendly. I was a bit surprised that they didn't waive any of the ramp fees after I bought 70 gallons of relatively expensive fuel, but whatever, airports cost money to run. I was mostly annoyed that when i told them enterprise wouldn't deliver there because "the contract expired", they seemed to give zero effs. There appears to be someone there all the time, so logging rental cars in & out would be a small ask, especially if they aren't going to have a courtesy car. It is a super convenient location for a touristy area, seems like a missed opportunity.

Pretty jealous of the new hangars; restaurant is pretty good, too. I was surprised at how busy it was.
 
I do have to say the best and sketchiest rental experience I’ve had was the one @ktup-flyer set up in Exumas. Plain Suzuki Swift without no license plates. I think he got pulled over once for it. I was able to evade :happydance:
 
Second pretty much every thought/comment here - it has become just about impossible to get a rental car at any but the larger airports with their concomitant fees and high gas prices. Hertz pretty much gives me the "we are shorthanded" story everywhere now.

And when there is a car available, the $35/day FBO rate is a thing of the distant past - pretty much the same price at the FBO as at the terminal.
 
I do have to say the best and sketchiest rental experience I’ve had was the one @ktup-flyer set up in Exumas. Plain Suzuki Swift without no license plates. I think he got pulled over once for it. I was able to evade :happydance:
Also the most fun I’ve had in a rental car! Lots of Ken Block style Gymkhana-esque antics
 
I've been using turo for a few years and have not looked back. Such an easy experience.
 
The guys behind the counter were super friendly. I was a bit surprised that they didn't waive any of the ramp fees after I bought 70 gallons of relatively expensive fuel, but whatever, airports cost money to run. I was mostly annoyed that when i told them enterprise wouldn't deliver there because "the contract expired", they seemed to give zero effs. There appears to be someone there all the time, so logging rental cars in & out would be a small ask, especially if they aren't going to have a courtesy car. It is a super convenient location for a touristy area, seems like a missed opportunity.

Pretty jealous of the new hangars; restaurant is pretty good, too. I was surprised at how busy it was.
From my understanding - courtesy cars are primarily funded and provided to large jet fuel purchases. We just ride on those coat rails. But since Williamsburg doesn’t really get jets - (only two types can really land there, Pilatus and vision jet) - there just isn’t large fuel purchases to fund courtesy cars and other things from a 3200 ft runway. And courtesy cars are generally for pilots that are hired and staying with the plane - and most end stop customers there are pilots but leaving the premises.

But rental car companies are about traffic and money. I doubt it way the “contract”. My guess is that they just don’t think it’s profitable enough for them to deliver cars there regularly so they don’t.

New hangars are really nice. I hear there are a couple left. Not sure. But yes the restaurant is excellent there, along with the staff. And it’s one of the few “private” airports that’s open to the public.
 
Go Rentals (if available). They tracked our flight inbound, pulled the car right up to the plane when we landed. We jumped in and drove off. Didn't even go into the FBO. (KDTS). Highly recommend.
Folks who think the normal rental car companies (Avis / Hertz / Enterprise / Budget / etc.) are expensive post-Covid will keel over in complete shock when they get the bill from Go. But their service is very good.
 
From my understanding - courtesy cars are primarily funded and provided to large jet fuel purchases.
I hear you, but I will also say that I've been to some really small, podunk, out of the way airports that manage to have an old car for pilots to use. Of course, as you mention, those are usually owned by the city or county, not private, and provide an old police car that cost them nothing. The bigger issue probably is that in those cases the car can be added on to the governing body's insurance for nothing, whereas it would be a significant expense for a private enterprise like JGG.
I've been using turo for a few years and have not looked back. Such an easy experience.
Had really good luck with them on our trip out west. Our plans got all messed up and Turo really saved the trip as nothing was available from the traditional companies on that short notice. I hesitate to use them because while my car insurance treats them like any other car, I don't have the "dollar one" coverage my credit card provides, so I'd be on the hook for my deductible. The prices I see on Turo are generally about the same as a traditional rental by the time the fees get added up. It seems like there's a lot of sketchy listings to wade through, and it's still often hard to get one dropped at a small airport. Definitely in the rotation though.

Folks who think the normal rental car companies (Avis / Hertz / Enterprise / Budget / etc.) are expensive post-Covid will keel over in complete shock when they get the bill from Go. But their service is very good.
I was trying to remember if that was the outrageously expensive one that you have to email for a quote. I seem to remember them being about 10X Enterprise rates.
 
I was trying to remember if that was the outrageously expensive one that you have to email for a quote. I seem to remember them being about 10X Enterprise rates.
Yup, that's them. I used them once. Maybe not quite 10x Enterprise...at least, not post-Covid Enterprise. Pretty close to 10x pre-Covid Enterprise, though. (Well, actually, my experience with them was pre-Covid, so if they followed the same inflation curve...yikes. They were expensive enough back then that I've never looked into them since.)
 
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Turo has been very good across multiple locations. I even found Turo’s last minute for OSH and Sun N Fun this year when no other cars were to be found. I’ve used them from FL to AK and have met some really nice local people at the same time. Each time I’ve asked, they’re happy to have the car waiting at the local FBO. Prices seem to be comparable or lower than chains.
 
Go Rentals (if available). They tracked our flight inbound, pulled the car right up to the plane when we landed. We jumped in and drove off. Didn't even go into the FBO. (KDTS). Highly recommend.
Go is very good, goes above and beyond with FBO based service, and is solely a "private" aviation service provider (though that is jet traffic first and foremost). However, based on the "price sensitivity" of many POAers - I would expect the next thread to be about being gouged for the Go Experience ;)
 
I have always had a good experience with Go at KFTW (Ft. Worth, TX) at Texas Jet.
 
I hear you, but I will also say that I've been to some really small, podunk, out of the way airports that manage to have an old car for pilots to use. Of course, as you mention, those are usually owned by the city or county, not private, and provide an old police car that cost them nothing. The bigger issue probably is that in those cases the car can be added on to the governing body's insurance for nothing, whereas it would be a significant expense for a private enterprise like JGG.
The last I knew, Virginia's property tax laws include annual payments on the value of your car. So if a privately owned airport there did bother with a courtesy car, you can count on it being one with negligible residual value. But even then, as you suggest, the insurance would probably make it a losing proposition.

I've seen a variety of courtesy cars at rural airports, loosely defined as airports where you can land in a light single-engine airplane and trust that you will not be marshalled to a carpeted entrance. Most are very clearly former law enforcement patrol cars that have been depreciated out and replaced on the front lines. Some are decent cars with some life left that pilots have donated. And others seem to have been on the way to the wrecking yard when they were abandoned on the side of the road and eventually dragged to an airport for courtesy car duty. They all have one thing in common, though: the check engine light is on. (One of them was off at first but we discovered it was an old enough car that the light did not latch in the on state, so it would turn on and off as you drove.)

I have definitely had experiences where the airport that appears more expensive on paper ended up being a better deal because of things like Uber availability, not having to manhandle the plane backwards out of a self-serve fueling point, etc. The last mile is always the hardest and even my awesome electric scooters ended up being useless to cover it, because of the way they fold not being flat enough to put in my plane. I'm definitely keeping my eye on this thread for rental car tips. I didn't even know Enterprise had a GA phone number (and website, it appears) until now.
 
I've seen a variety of courtesy cars at rural airports, loosely defined as airports where you can land in a light single-engine airplane and trust that you will not be marshalled to a carpeted entrance. Most are very clearly former law enforcement patrol cars that have been depreciated out and replaced on the front lines. Some are decent cars with some life left that pilots have donated. And others seem to have been on the way to the wrecking yard when they were abandoned on the side of the road and eventually dragged to an airport for courtesy car duty. They all have one thing in common, though: the check engine light is on.
I love this paragraph wholeheartedly. I'm always a bit surprised when they have working air conditioning. I find courtesy cars one of the funnest parts of GA travel. My family is usually finds them less fun however. They don't enjoy creaky suspensions, broken down seats, and playing the "will it start" game as much as I do.

I didn't even know Enterprise had a GA phone number (and website, it appears) until now.
Well, the website WAS awesome pre-covid. They shut it down some time in 2020 and it hasn't worked since. The phone number still works, but they seem to have greatly reduced the number of airports they service and raised prices.

Here's an actual tip: I wound up reserving through the GA line at Gatlinburg (there was a whole story, I did a thread on it if you're interested) and didn't realize until after the fact that they included their insurance. They never even asked on the phone, so make sure you tell them to decline the insurance or the GA rate will seem outrageous. I haven't tested this yet though, so it's possible they have a policy requiring it now. In the past I have reserved on the GA line without it, and the price was the same as on the regular website plus a delivery fee of something like $35.
 
I'm becoming a convert to Go Rentals, they're nice at LGB and $89/day for their Camry is only 5 or 10 bucks more than the terminal.

I'd use Turo a lot more, but my Chase Sapphire rental car cover perk doesn't work with Turo, and Turo's supplied insurance seems... sketch.
 
I didn't even know Enterprise had a GA phone number (and website, it appears) until now.
I only knew of it through the CAA (Corporate Aircraft Association) contract jet fuel program, which has a relationship w/ Enterprise. I didn't know a GA eco-system existed outside of that.
I've rented a number of times and different locations with the CAA discount code, and have yet to see a price higher than $39/day for an economy car.
 
I'm very sad to see this about JGG.
Jean Waltrip used to run a very welcoming FBO there. RIP Jean!

That's where I learned to fly, renting from the school and maintenance operation that was there at the time. This was back in the 1990's...the days when that FBO/Restaurant building was brand new. I remember many times seeing the line guys deliver rental cars plane side on the ramp. Pretty sure I remember folks on unicom as they were nearing the filed requesting cars.

Seems like that place was always hoping. In all the places I've lived I have never found another equal to it, in terms of "airport bum" friendly accessibility.
 
Our company has a corporate account with Hertz, and everyone is a Gold Member or higher. With the Corporate account the rates are usually very competitive. We do a lot of day trips and I set up the arrival time 1-2 hours before our planed arrival. Sometimes I will give an afternoon arrival time the day before an early arrival. We use Avis, Enterprise or National when Hertz is not available. ABI Avis is currently our problem child. I always give them a time at least 2 hours before our planned arrival time.
 
We do a lot of day trips and I set up the arrival time 1-2 hours before our planed arrival.

I also am a Gold member. I have tried this before and they ended up giving away my car lol. To be fair, that wasn't at the FBO though, it was at the regular counter as the FBO wouldn't get cars delivered from Hertz.
 
Another Turo fan here. I've used them several times over the past year without the slightest issue. Prices are typically in a range similar to pre-covid rental car companies. And there's usually at least some availability at all but the smallest airports. In fact, each time I've tried to search the rental company inventories for my destination since covid, the typical response is "no cars available." Never has been the case with Turo. Of course, as with AirBnB and similar companies, read the reviews and choose accordingly. I'd never book an AirBnB without at least a few positive reviews, no negatives, and I read all the comments. Likewise with Turo.
 
Rental cars are really struggling. I mean, I think this is your 2nd thread on the topic. What I think we (PoA) should do is to offer up our spare cars to our local airport as our own PoA crew cars. I met a guy at a Wisconsin airport who offered me his Jeep no problem.
I left a car at another airport about a year ago, I need to call and ask them to start her up o_O plates are def expired.
 
Turo has been very good across multiple locations. I even found Turo’s last minute for OSH and Sun N Fun this year when no other cars were to be found. I’ve used them from FL to AK and have met some really nice local people at the same time. Each time I’ve asked, they’re happy to have the car waiting at the local FBO. Prices seem to be comparable or lower than chains.
Well prices are set by the car owners? They could negotiate too?
 
Turo has been very good across multiple locations. I even found Turo’s last minute for OSH and Sun N Fun this year when no other cars were to be found. I’ve used them from FL to AK and have met some really nice local people at the same time. Each time I’ve asked, they’re happy to have the car waiting at the local FBO. Prices seem to be comparable or lower than chains.
Add me to the turo list. Some of these rental companies rival the DMV customer service wise
 
I haven’t tried Toru yet. The only place I’ve had a problem with ground transportation has been at Beaufort South Carolina. Will Touro just drop the car off at the airport? Or do you call them up and give them a time once you’re in route?
 
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