If you’re a frequent flyer, airports with all their shopping and eating delights will hold no appeal: you mostly want to get in and out as soon as possible, save the odd stop for an overpriced snack. We know that picking up a rental car can slow you down if you don’t get it right, so here are a few tips for flying in and driving away with as little time lost as possible.
1 . Choose the right car and rental supplier
This is the crucial point. If time is of the essence, an on-airport rental supplier is your best bet. These are companies with counters right in the terminal, saving the hassle of flagging down a taxi or calling and waiting for a shuttle to get to the depot.
It’s often the biggest international brands which operate from inside the airport, but you don’t need to rely on guesswork - Airport Rentals
clearly marks the on-airport options. Check next to the small plane icon where it tells you what kind of pick-up you’re dealing with.
There is even a handy banner to point out the cheapest on-airport option, so you can save money and time simultaneously.
The choose-your-own-car “choice locations”
by Alamo and National found throughout the US
can also help to facilitate a speedy pick-up, as well as allowing you to pick your ride. Take a look!
2 . Read your rental confirmation carefully
This one trips up many an unwary traveler. It’s important to read and reread the email that is sent to you when you make a booking to avoid being caught out upon arrival in a foreign city!
First, ensure that the booking matches with what you had in mind - a mis-click while making a reservation online can cause nasty surprises, but if you catch it early it’s likely fixable. Then, find out where the rental counter is located, so that you won’t waste time looking at maps or asking for directions, and note any special instructions.
3 . Be prepared
Speaking of rental confirmations, it’s always a good idea to print yours out and bring it along in your carry-on luggage. Once you’re in the air, checking details becomes quite a bother when there are no paper copies available!
Our Customer Service Manager has fielded many a call from harried renters who have forgotten some crucial item for their rental. One common mistake is forgetting to bring the credit card with which the booking was made, often required for pick-up. It’s also good to note that some companies will not accept debit cards, only credit cards - so be aware and ask beforehand if necessary.
Other things to put on the DO-NOT-FORGET list: driver’s license with international permit/translation if required, passport (or you won’t even get there) and travel insurance/excess cover insurance details printed for easy reference.
4 . Streamline your airport process
Of course, it’s not just the car rental which might slow you down - procedures at the terminal are notorious for this. Here are a few suggestions for ways to get from the plane to the arrivals gate as quickly as possible:
Fill in your arrivals card before you land.
Have that and your passport in your hand during the disembarkation and customs process to save digging it out when you need it.
Travel with carry-on bags only wherever possible, to avoid waiting at the baggage pick-up carousel.
Avoid issues at immigration by leaving your cellphone in your pocket, having everything ready to go and keeping answers brief and to the point. Do not try to take photos of anything, and do not make jokes!
Check customs restrictions before you travel, so you don’t have anything to declare.
So if you are still interested in saving time at the airport to pick-up your car rental, give it a try in one of the many North American cities where it is available: New York
, Los Angeles
, San Francisco
...and many more!