Picking up a rental car at the airport
Many people are confused by the terminology “on airport”, “off airport”, etc. Hopefully, the following information will help clarify some of the differences.
“On Airport”. This terminology is often used to describe locations where your hire car is actually parked in the Arrivals Terminal but, more often than not, also refers to hire cars that are parked in a compound within the boundaries of the airport.
Where the hire cars are parked within reserved areas of the terminal then the car hire companies’ check in desks will almost certainly be located within the Arrivals Hall. You will check in at these desks and, after check in, be directed to the bay in which your hire car is parked.
Because of the premium for space in airport terminals these facilities are generally in the minority.
In most other cases you will take the hire car company’s shuttle bus from the Arrivals Terminal to their compound. Here you will find located their check-in desks and, again, after check-in you will be directed to your hire car.
Personal experience tells us that although check-in within the terminal itself sounds the best option, you may find that going to the compound on the shuttle bus often means shorter lines and less time delays for check-in! It also stands to reason that because of the premium a car hire company must pay to be in the terminal itself their hire rates may not be as competitive as some others without those additional overheads.
“Off Airport”. Some smaller airports (and many non-USA airports) often use off airport compounds to store their hire cars. However, the procedure for picking up your hire car is the same. Take their shuttle bus from the Arrivals Terminal. The trip to their compound may be a few minutes longer than with “on airport” hire car companies but, again, their prices may be more competitive and actual check-in procedures/times may be less hassle.
Occasionally you will be offered a “meet and greet” service.
Generally, this service is favoured by the smaller car hire companies who may not be able (or wish) to pay for expensive parking space. This does not mean that their hire cars are of a lower standard – in fact their rates may often be lower than their competitors for obvious reasons! Its also usually pretty hassle free as your name will be displayed on a board held up by their representative as you leave the Arrivals Hall (or Customs) and you then have a virtually one-on-one service to complete the paperwork and take you to where your hire car is parked.
You should not be concerned – whichever method your car hire suppliers uses. Your car hire voucher will contain full instructions as to how to pick up your hire car.