What are the Key Differences Between On Airport and Off Airport Car Hire?
In most airports both in the UK and abroad you will have the option of hiring your car from a supplier who is based in the airport terminal (or at least a short walk from the terminal building) or off airport where you generally have to get a shuttle bus to the hire firm’s office.
We often get asked which is best and what are the main differences between the two types of office. Below we outline what you can expect from both hire experiences to help you decide which you’d prefer!
Off Airport Car Hire
The biggest plus of off airport car hire is that the price of the hire is generally less than a vehicle from those companies situated on airport. This is purely because they have to pay lower rent and fees than those companies situated in the airport terminal.
Whilst a journey in a shuttle bus may be off-putting, these services have come on significantly since they were first introduced. The shuttle buses are regularly cleaned and are usually a frequent service to and from the office. Some companies do now ask that only the lead driver goes in the shuttle bus to collect the vehicle due to covid - with the idea of going back to the terminal to collect the rest of your party once you have the vehicle.
Another benefit of off airport car hire is that the vehicles are generally located on the forecourt of the office. So, once you have made the journey via shuttle bus, you are not only at the office but also at your car. Sometimes with on airport car hire you can have a little walk from the office to the actual car.
On Airport Car Hire
With a car hire company which is located on airport, you generally have a small walk from the baggage reclaim area to the office. This makes the car hire experience definitely easier especially if you are with your family or young children or have a large number of bags in tow. By not needing to get a shuttle bus you are saved an additional journey and also time. However, as we stated above, you may have a short, few minutes’ walk from the airport terminal to the car park to find your vehicle so this is worth keeping in mind. Again though, the lead driver could walk to collect the car and then drive back to get the rest of the party!
The flip side of the general convenience is that you will usually pay slightly more than you would for an off airport car hire. The on airport firms generally are subject to high levels of rent to be in terminal, this cost is more often than not passed on to customers.
So, are there any similarities between off and on airport car hire? The answer is yes, and the biggest thing is queues. Regardless of whether you go for an off or on airport rental, in peak periods the likelihood is that you will have a queue. The length of the queue will depend entirely on the time you arrive, how many flights arrive at that time, and which company you go for. If you have found a good deal with a firm, it is most likely that others will have found the same price and therefore you may face a queue.
Ultimately, the decision to go for on airport or off airport when it comes to car rental is down to your priorities. If convenience is key, on airport rentals would be the winner - with the absence of a shuttle bus it is an easier journey. But if price is central to your decision making, it’s really worth looking at off airport hires. You can get a great deal for the little bit of extra travel in the shuttle bus.
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