While we’re on the subject of airport car rental centers, the award for the most massive goes to Fort Lauderdale. This multi-story monster houses thousands of cars and every major (and minor) car rental agency in the country. It is “off-site” in that you need to ride a bus from the terminal to get there, and there are two floors of waiting areas bordered by a huge open atrium. It just goes on and on and on. All the cars sleep quietly in the garage behind the endlessly curving waiting area with its gleaming terrazzo floors and chrome stanchions. You pick your car and go.
We traveled recently to visit T’s mom and sisters to celebrate her birthday and arrived at night. The whole building is a bit disorienting, especially after a 5-hour flight.Fortunately, it was largely deserted, adding to the surreality. An enormous space with maybe half a dozen people. I hate to think what this place must be like when it’s busy. We found the perfect vehicle, fired it up and wound our way down the spiral ramp that connects the 5 or so floors of the parking garage. Out to the highway and the half-hour drive into Miami Beach. Easy peasy.
Last year I travelled to North Carolina for my niece’s wedding. I flew into Charlotte and picked up a car at the airport. The cavernous waiting area serves all the rental car companies in the common building directly across from the terminal. I think I went with Dollar. I had my car and was on my way to Boone, NC in a matter of a few minutes. The recent trend of having all the car rental companies under one roof produces giant structures that house the waiting areas as well as the garages for all the cars. I guess it is more efficient than having each company have its one lot and service center, but these gigantic rooms can be a bit disorienting at times. Like when you get off your plane after a 5-hour flight and still don’t really know what time zone you are in.
Luckily, it wasn’t too bad, the drive north was through beautiful country and I arrived safely. The wedding was lovely, I had a chance to sample some of the local barbecue on my way back to the airport, and I found myself returning my car to this very same building in a couple of days. All in all, a whirlwind trip to the North Carolina mountain country.