Waiting for Thrifty: Rental car woes expected to continue, with long lines for cars and high daily rates

PHOENIX, Arizona – I doubt this was the welcome that the Arizona Workplace of Tourism desired me to have.

Contemporary from a 4 and a 50 % hour flight in United overall economy past month, I headed to the vehicle rental centre at Phoenix Sky Harbor Global Airport, in which I was greeted by a line that snaked all the way via the substantial facility.

The line, possibly 100 individuals deep, was for 1 rental agency, Thrifty. Which, of system, was the company I experienced picked out to lease a automobile from for the up coming week.

Worn out and impatient, I stood in line. And I stood. And I stood. And I stood. Finally, just after more than two hrs, I was powering the wheel of my Ford Escape, heading south to Tucson.

It was not an isolated incident – and it is not occurring just in Phoenix. Jonathan Weinberg, CEO of rental-car or truck price cut internet site AutoSlash, reported vacationers really should hope one more spring and summer season of auto rental woes.

He stated what happened to me was possible a mixture of extreme demand and staffing difficulties. The problem is not exceptional to Thrifty.

“Today, it may possibly be Thrifty, tomorrow it might be Greenback or Hertz,” he stated.

The issue emerged final calendar year, as curiosity in vacation ramped up following a year of pandemic-induced small need. Car rental companies, which offered off considerably of their inventory during the pandemic, have been unable to invest in replacements rapidly more than enough because of to supply-chain shortages.

Substantial demand and low stock brought on prices to spike – or, in some circumstances, leave tourists without the need of accessibility to rental cars and trucks at all.

“The rental motor vehicle firms have finished all the things that they can to purchase almost everything they can and it’s however not adequate,” Weinberg mentioned. “There’s additional desire than vehicles out there.”

Including to the concern: Due to the fact most renters really don’t spend for a rental ahead of they decide on up their vehicle, the no-present charge for rental cars can be high and tricky to predict. “It’s an artwork as considerably of a science,” said Weinberg. “When they predict wrong, and they have staffing issues, that’s when items go off the rails.”

A spokesperson for Thrifty apologized for my inconvenience and available this clarification: “Due to a surge in journey desire, specifically all around peak gatherings this kind of as spring crack, there can be for a longer period than predicted waits at some locations. Our customers’ fulfillment is our prime precedence and we are doing work diligently to support our prospects and get them on the highway as quickly as probable.”

At minimum I had not prepaid for my rental, which various people in close proximity to me had performed. Hypothetically, at the very least, I could just take my business enterprise somewhere else.

As I waited in line, I shopped for an alternate. Numerous rental businesses at the airport ended up marketed out of cars and trucks, even though other individuals had exact-day automobiles for significantly much more money than the $420 per 7 days that I had agreed to spend Thrifty. So I waited.

Weinberg anticipates a summer rental motor vehicle crunch that may well not be significantly superior than very last year’s, with high day by day rates, especially in far more remote areas. Rental cars and trucks in places like Hawaii, Alaska and the regions about Glacier Countrywide Park are previously commanding premiums as superior as $200 a working day, he reported.

He supplied these tips for travelers who plan to lease a vehicle this spring and summer months:

* Indication up for loyalty reward programs that normally allow you skip the line at the counter. Weinberg recommends Hertz Gold, National’s Emerald Club and Avis Preferred. “It expenses nothing to signal up,” he mentioned.

* Enterprise, National and Alamo feel to have better success predicting stock and run out of vehicles much less frequently, explained Weinberg. (Reminder: Enterprise, Countrywide and Alamo are all part of the very same enterprise so are Hertz, Greenback and Thrifty and Avis, Finances and Payless.)

* Reserve early – a thirty day period or extra in progress, if achievable – and then check costs. At the very least you won’t be shut out, Weinberg explained.

I was lucky in this regard – after ready two hrs, there was a vehicle for me. That’s not always the situation, stated Weinberg. Certainly, I was even upgraded for no cost, from my reserved overall economy motor vehicle to a tiny SUV.

Weinberg explained that tourists who demonstrate up for a reservation but are told no automobiles are readily available ought to be ready to lease from a competitor and cost the authentic business the variation. “A rental car reservation is viewed as a binding deal,” he explained.

Receiving rental firms to pay out the difference, of class, can be a challenge. But if pushed, he claimed, they typically do shell out up.

In any situation, by the time I arrived in Tucson, I was permitting go of my aggravation. A colleague traveled to Phoenix about two months following I did and had no difficulty finding up his car or truck. Indeed, he stated there have been no traces in the rental automobile heart at all.

So probably I was the victim of bad luck. The future time, although, I will not count on luck. I have previously signed up for all those reward packages.

Browse a lot more:

Two days in Tucson: Hiking, biking, saguaros and Sonoran warm dogs

No spring training in Phoenix? Try the Musical Instrument Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright, Dale Chihuly and far more

Katherine T. Burrows

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