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Returning Rental at Airport - Time to allow?

Discussion in 'Getting There & Getting Around' started by Icedgenes, Mar 2, 2014.

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  1. Icedgenes

    Icedgenes Low-Roller

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    Next trip we need to rent a car for at least a few days to pick up friends who are staying with relatives. I figure the cost for a couple days will be close to what we would spend for a day trip anyway.

    If we rent a car for the week at the airport, how much time should I allow to turn in the car and get to the terminal in addition to the 2 hour advance arrival requirement? We depart at 6am. Last trip we took a 7am flight and the taxi drive took <15 minutes from south strip.
     
  2. carlgoro

    carlgoro Tourist

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    Conservatively

    From arrival at the return center I give 30-45 minutes to return the car and catch the shuttle to my respective airlines departure desk. Shuttles are frequent, taking barely 10 minutes door to door (variable is which airline dropoff you're using.)
     
  3. dmr

    dmr Registered Abuser

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    Lately, while flying Soutwest with no checked bags, I plan to arrive at the rental center just over 2 hours prior to flight time. I've never been even close to running tight on time. Last few Las Vegas trips the security line at the C gates moved right along.
     
  4. matguy

    matguy High-Roller

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    Agree with the previous posters with the addition of the 2 hour recommendation isn't quite a requirement, but 45 minutes IS a hard requirement. 2 hours is a good goal, because if you do end up running in to some delay you should have plenty of time before the 45 minute point where they may turn you away. While you might be able to get around the 45 minute rule by early check-in if you don't have any bags to check, I wouldn't try.

    This is coming from someone who got stuck in the airport over night plus a hefty change fee for getting there 42 minutes before a flight (Sat night strip traffic + really weird gas station issues.)
     
  5. smartone

    smartone VIP Whale

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    I agree with DMR... if your departure is 10 a.m.... I'd want to be pulling into the rental return garage at 8 a.m. for a nice leisurely walk thru and out to the bus. It's less than 10 minutes to the airport from there, but you never know the "condition" of the airport. Sometimes you get there and sail right through and you're at the gate with 75-90 minutes to spare... other times the lines are NUTS. I prefer to be at my gate with no less than an hour to spare... most board at 20 minutes prior, so that's not too much to wait, eat or whatever. I always do sky-cap too, so my time allows for that.

    I don't like that "rushed" feeling AT ALL... so my time accommodates surprises (to an extent).
     
  6. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    From my own personal experience ... If my departure flight with SWA is at 2:30 pm, I will have our Alamo rental car scheduled for a 12:00 noon return to the car barn. My returns at Alamo have always been quick & easy, and in less than 10 minutes, we are boarding the shuttle bus for the return to the terminal. We always have carry-on bags (no standing in line), and we pick up our boardings passes at the self-service kiosks. TSA screening at the C gates has always been fast & smooth, and by 1:00 pm we are sitting at our gate area, deciding on lunch ....
     
  7. makikiboy

    makikiboy VIP Whale

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    IMHO, if you have a 6 am flight I would probably drop off the car at 4:45 am at the latest. That will give you time to return your car, get your luggage and board the bus back to the terminal. The bus ride should take 10 minutes so you should get to the ticket desk with 45 minutes to an hour to spare. Of course it is probably better to get there early (traffic, security, etc.) so better to get there between 4 am and 4:30 am so you won't miss your flight.

    Be aware that some airlines won't open their desk early first thing in the morning, usually will open their desk at 4:30 or 5 am (even if you have a 6 am flight) so you may have to wait till the desk opens and you can drop off your bags. But then better to wait at the terminal then have to rush everything to avoid being late. My time estimates are only good if you are out first thing in the morning, most other times it is better to drop your car off with 2 hours to spare but I found that early mornings you don't have to follow the 2 hour rule as much. But that's JMHO.

    During the day time hours I sometimes drop off my guests and my bags at the terminal (before returning the car) so when I return the car I just walk out to the shuttle and don't have to worry about my stuff. But since you will be there first thing in the morning the crowd at the rental facility shouldn't be too much of a problem, but then it also depends on how much luggage you have, if you have a lot then better to get there earlier.
     
  8. numeno

    numeno VIP Whale

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    Only because it seems it wasn't set in stone. I rented a car just once in Vegas and it was only for the first part of the trip. So I had the car for a few days, took it back to the airport and then used a cab back to the strip. It made sense to me because the cost of the extra days was more than the 2 cab trips I'd have to take. This way I also didn't have to worry about getting to the airport extremely early either.

    Only you know if that is even possible or even worth it to you. I also saved a little bit of money by taking a cab to Excalibur instead of back to my hotel. Then I could start my day from there. :)



    I would agree with everyone else above. 2-2.5 hours before takeoff is a reasonable time. If you are doing one of the rentals where you need 2 shuttles, I might add another 15 minutes to that.
     
  9. mrstealth

    mrstealth High-Roller

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    Right - about 1/2 hour is just about right. 1 thing though, that can add a few minutes is filling the car up with gas if you need too. There is a terribles gas station on the right hand side of the strip just before the rental car turn off that works perfect. 5 - 10 minutes and you are good to go. Here is the breakdown and depends a little on traffic, the end of the strip you are on, and the time of day you are returning your car.

    15 minutes - drive to car rental facility (add 10 for gas fillup)
    5 -10 minutes car drop off, unload luggage, walk to waiting bus
    5 -10 minute bus ride to terminal

    ** Fox car rental is off site and requires a separate shuttle bus ride, and is a little further down than the main car rental return facility. Add an additional 30 minutes
     
  10. sweetcanadian

    sweetcanadian High-Roller

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    Factor in the fact you have to be at the airport between 4-4:30 am how busy is it really in those times? i am sure substantially less then peak times and traffic probably isn't quite as busy either.

    I know vegas is the city that never sleeps but the majority would still be sleeping at that time and/or not going anywhere.

    I would give yourself an extra 1/2 hour. The one & only time we rented a car was in Orlando. Very busy airport but no shuttle needed. Took 5 minutes for us to check the car in.
     
  11. mrstealth

    mrstealth High-Roller

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    Well, Vegas is not Orlando. There are actually a ton of flights that leave between 4 and 6 am, and on a holiday or during a big convention it can be quite crowded. And also, the car rental companies are typically understaffed at that time as well.
     
  12. leo21

    leo21 VIP Whale

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    It's never taken more than five minutes in Vegas for a car rental check in for me no matter what time of day but I always use Alamo. Is there some other company out there that doesn't have that quick scan in process they use? I thought that was pretty standard. Generally they have to wait for me to get my crap together and not the other way around.

    All that being said, you should allow 30 minutes for the ride, fill up check in and shuttle to the airport. And you should plan to be at the airport about 2 hours early because TSA is usually a hot mess first thing in the morning. LAS is one of the worst at managing their lines.
     
  13. smartone

    smartone VIP Whale

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    I wondered about that... since I only have to fly to Reno, I'm rarely at McCarran earlier than 10:00 a.m. or so. I kinda thought that it might not be too bad, but then thought anybody going east usually has to get outta town early to make things work, so it doesn't surprise me that it'd be busy.
     
  14. makikiboy

    makikiboy VIP Whale

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    I have done the early flight out of vegas many times with very little problems. Yes, there are factors that could make it busy, one was the end of big conventions or events, the day after the close of the CES was a total nuthouse all day and night (I usually stay an extra day or two to avoid the crowds). Another depends on which airline you take, some are busy because a lot of their flights leave early. I took SW and UAL without any problems. International flights might take longer so also better to be there early.

    The only "problem" that I had was that the ticketing area wasn't open early, UAL didn't open until 4:45 am, I had a 6 am flight so the area was busy with customers waiting to check in and drop off their bags.

    I found TSA to be great in the early morning because there aren't many flyers so the lines weren't very long if you go early. But then I usually like to get there early to avoid the crowds.
     
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