Joe Brancatelli has a great idea to really improve the airport rental car experience.
I want to drop my rental car at my departure terminal
The car-rental firms have nine million reasons why they shunt us to distant airport “rental return” lots. And there’s only one reason to allow us to drive right up to the departure terminal and drop off our vehicles: We’ll pay for the convenience and the time savings. No matter what the rental firms say, implementing such as scheme is no more complicated than valet parking at a restaurant. You have a podium in front of each departure terminal. The renter drives up and drops the keys and the valet generates a receipt from a handheld device. We pay perhaps $10 for the valet service and everyone wins. The service need not even be proprietary to each car-rental company. A consolidated third-party firm could handle all rental companies and all return transactions, thus reducing the potential curbside clutter.
I’d quibble with Joe on the idea that this could be effectively pulled off with a single firm handling this for all rental agencies, in part because I’ve seen the travesty that is most ‘shared’ services in travel (whether it’s parking lot attendants, off-airport rental facility buses, whatnot) and in part because that concept wouldn’t be implemented seamlessly and there would be extra finger pointing between rental agency and customers over who dinged a vehicle after it was dropped off, or whether it was really returned on time.
But the basic concept seems like a no-brainer, although it would take creative thinking on the part of airport authorities not generally given to creative thinking (I could imagine this being pulled off at maybe DFW and a couple of other facilities, but not many).
Combine that with gas fill-up at a reasonable rate and rental car companies that pulled this off would win tremendous amounts of business, as well as additional ancillary revenue.