Posted by: pizzainmotion | August 3, 2012

Renting A Car The Old-Fashioned Way Kinda Stinks (My Recent AVIS Rental at MIA)

I’ve been lucky enough to have Hertz Platinum status for the last few years and I definitely enjoy it more than just making a regular rental.  Other people I know swear by other rental companies, such as National’s Emerald Club.  Though I haven’t tried it, I don’t think it really compares.  AVIS has the Chairman’s Club which I’ve heard great things about and tried to purchase during an AMEX promo earlier this year.

So, when AVIS and American Airlines recently announced their generous mileage offer, I decided to see what a plain ol’ AVIS rental would be like.  Since I think this is the only AVIS rental in the last decade (seriously) I don’t know if I picked a good location or bad location, so I take this experience with a grain of salt.

Normally when I rent from Hertz as a Platinum at MIA I proceed to baggage claim and walk outside.  There, a Hertz agent greets me curbside, I hop into the car and take off.  Anyone renting a car knows this is not a normal experience.

I got off my flight in the G terminal at Miami airport.  I’ve never flown into MIA on United, which apparently uses the G concourse.  For the longest time Miami was pretty much a cess pool (especially the old A concourse, IIRC).  But, they gutted a bunch of old concourses to build a very nice monster-sized concourse for American.  This took MIA from the bottom to near the top for my list of favorite domestic US airports.

That being said, the G concourse has seen no such renaissance.  It probably has some of the lowest ceilings of any airport concourse I can recall.  The only thing I can remember being remotely close are the ceiling levels in the security areas at LGA, which seem quite spacious comparably.  I’d certainly say the height of the ceilings in the gate areas is no more than 10 feet and probably more like 8 or 9.

 

MIA has completed a number of other improvements, including a new rental car facility and a train/people mover that takes you there and will connect to a transportation hub next year for bus and train service.  The old rental car locations used to be served by shuttle buses, so the new setup is supposed to be an improvement.

 

It was a bit of a hike from the G terminal to the MIA Mover.  On the way back I was flying AA out of the D terminal which is a noticeably shorter walk.  The train ride’s about 5 minutes and it’s a short walk from there to the rental car facility.  This is a joint facility like a number of newer facilities such as Sea-Tac airport.

 

I hopped on the line at AVIS, waited a few minutes and was called to the counter.  After a few minutes of banging away on the keyboard the agent found I was a Preferred member (probably something I should have remembered, but I didn’t think it would make a difference). At the new facility, there’s a separate counter for Preferred members which is located downstairs where everyone picks up their cars.  I proceeded to that desk and they assigned me a vehicle, handing me a navigation system.  I’ve never been wild about installing a navigation system in a rental car.  I know this makes it feasible for them to offer navigation in all their vehicles, but I do actually prefer the Hertz NeverLost approach even though the technology is outdated.

The first car they gave me was a complete non-starter.  Too many things wrong to list them all.  It appeared to have been driven by someone else and not cleaned.  When I went back to the counter I asked about a number of other vehicle on the lot, being told they were all reserved. There were some choices to upgrade to, but since I was doing virtually no driving on this trip spending an extra $50 to $100 just didn’t seem worth it.  I rolled off the lot in a VW Passat, which was serviceable enough for the short trip.

From the time I left the plane until the time I rolled off the rental car lot was 39 minutes.  This could have been done a bit quicker if I could have rolled off the lot right away, but I think it’s fair to say it’s a 30 minute experience, all-in.

I’m sure a regular rental from Hertz wouldn’t be much shorter if at all.  However, this was a great reinforcement of how valuable a service like Hertz Platinum is for me, especially when traveling with kids.  Hertz also offers a ride back to the airport in your rental car when renting as a Platinum member.  Again, with kids this is a huge benefit.

Overall, nothing really remarkable other than I never want to give up my Hertz Platinum status (unless it’s for a chance to try Chairman).


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