Los Angeles Union Station car rental experience

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Chris I

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
143
Location
Portland, OR
Has anyone here successfully rented from the Avis at LA Union station? I had made a reservation months ago and went to pick up my car last Thursday. The employee gave me a confused look, and while she could see my reservation, she said "we have no cars here at all". Literally no vehicles.

She said she couldn't do anything for me, as did Avis customer service. I have status with Avis, and I've never had issues with them before, so this was a bit shocking. While Avis customer service claimed they had no cars available in the entire region, I suspected this was BS, so I made a quick reservation online for pick up at Burbank, hopped on the Metrolink, and had my car within the hour. Burbank Airport seemed to have plenty of cars. Anyone else experienced something like this?
 
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Joined
Mar 10, 2016
Messages
1,384
I recently had a major disaster with lack of rental car availability - it's partially the companies selling off cars en masse at the beginning of the pandemic and then the lack of availability of new cars to replace them - and short staffing with turning cars around at return time.

Basically I had to change a travel date for a work trip by one day and the next day there was no cars available, got reservation with another company, got to the airport - about 100 people (literally) ahead of me in line, an hour wait to get checked in and then another 90 minutes until getting car. Ended up taking a cab and having it wait - ended up cheaper - and got a voucher for more than the rental which was not charged, so at least the service was decent.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2012
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3,651
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LAX
Just heard on the news (ABC?) last evening about this problem. People with reservations showing up to no cars available.
Becoming more of a problem as summer travel approaches.
 

Sidney

OBS Chief
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Jul 12, 2020
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842
I rented from Hertz once at Union Station. I wanted an economy car. All they had was a gas guzzling SUV. With the high prices of gas in California,I was not happy. Never rented from them again.
 

frequentflyer

Conductor
Joined
Jun 10, 2008
Messages
1,014
I recently did this, the airport was out of cars so I made a reservation with a rental car company not located at the airport but neighborhood. Took an Uber from the airport to the neighborhood facility. Concession laws prevents the neighborhood facility from picking you up at the airport. I don't know if that applies to Amtrak Stations. But if the rental company in the Station is out, I am sure the neighborhood facility of the same company will not pick you up.
 
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Chris I

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
143
Location
Portland, OR
There otta be a law - literally (or, as Amtrak Joe would put it, "It's not hyperbole") - that requires car rental companies to compensate you if they cannot honor a confirmed reservation. Just like that for reservations.
That was the most aggravating part. They offered nothing to me, and I am a long time, very loyal Avis customer (rent lot through work).
 

frequentflyer

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That was the most aggravating part. They offered nothing to me, and I am a long time, very loyal Avis customer (rent lot through work).
I am a Hertz Gold Member and the computer hung up on me three times, and threatened me with a 5% person charge if the agent made my reservation. The follow up survey was not kind.
 

jis

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I am a Hertz Gold Member and the computer hung up on me three times, and threatened me with a 5% person charge if the agent made my reservation. The follow up survey was not kind.
Be careful. Hertz may send you to jail for asking for a car. :D

 

river

Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 20, 2010
Messages
139
Location
GRR
We recently had issues at Los Angeles Union Station with the lack of weekend hours to return a rental vehicle. Car rental companies at Union Station are closed to returns on Sat. afternoon and all day Sunday. So we took a taxi to the Budget rental on Mateo St. (less than 10 min away) which had longer Sat. hours and was open til 2 pm on Sunday. We reserved a midsized SUV with a Sunday return and they had our reserved vehicle ready to go when we arrived. Glad it all worked out.
 
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Ryan

Court Jester
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Apr 14, 2008
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Off looking for his sense of humor
1) Welcome to my pet peeve - ready access to a rental car should be far better for Amtrak to make sense as a travel mode. No, I'm not interested in getting off of the train and taking a cab to a neighborhood office to get a car to then go back to the train station to get my family and our gear (Atlanta, I'm looking at you). I'm only marginally less interested in having someone from the rental car company pick me up in what's going to be my car and taking me back to their office to do the paperwork and then get on my way. Yes, I understand the conventional Train Person Logic that trains are inherently superior because they drop you off downtown instead of at a Far Off Airport and thus you don't need a car, but that logic doesn't work anytime the train station isn't where one wants to go (again, I'm looking at you Atlanta, the airport is far closer to my final destination than is the train station). There have been many trips (not just Atlanta) where I've flown because the plane to car transition for the last bit of my journey is significant easier than whatever clown show gets cooked up for the train station. It would be nearly unthinkable to have an airport with commercial service not have rental cars on site - if rail is to be taken seriously by non Train People, the same must be true at the train station.

2) This "no cars" crap happens at airports too, even before the pandemic. I landed in Mobile for my first work trip in my previous job in 2015 to find there wasn't any car there for me despite having a reservation. Called up the government travel office, let forth a "what the hell is going on here", and the nice man cancelled my reservation and made me a new one for a competing agency. Imagine my surprise when I walked up to that counter and found out that they had just accepted a reservation for a car that didn't currently exist. The response when mentioning this to others traveling to the same meeting was telling... "You flew into Mobile, didn't you? Fly into Pensacola the next time."...

3) On my most recent work trip to the west coast, I flew into LAX. Took the shuttle bus over to Hertz to be greeted with an out the door line that took nearly three hours to plow through. Car availability didn't seem to be at issue, but staffing levels had 3 or 4 hard working people slowly chewing away at the massive crowd of unhappy travelers.
 

joelkfla

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Oct 16, 2018
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12 miles from Walt Disney World
I think Brightline is leading the way here, with their first/last mile service which they claim is integrated into their reservation system. I believe it's a mixture of shuttles, enclosed golf carts, and rideshare.
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
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4,715
Location
Baltimore. MD
Hmmm, My wife and I are planning to take the Acela and rent a car in Boston for our summer trip to Maine this year. Never had any problem with the South Boston Enterprise I've been using for years, but, then, I haven't done this in the summer since the Pandemic. I wonder if we should rent from the airport and that's the Silver Line from South Station.
 

flitcraft

Conductor
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
1,224
Car availability, coupled with the weekend closure, makes the LA Union Station rental at least iffy, if not downright unlikely. In the Before Times, we rented several times from Hertz there, and almost inevitably the type of car we had reserved wasn't available, and once we were told that there wouldn't be a car for us for about four hours--and we could have that one as long as we didn't want it cleaned! If that is the 'standard' pre-COVID, I shudder to think about it now.

One tip that might possibly be of use: pay for the rental in advance rather than just making a reservation. We needed a rental car at Washington Union Station last summer, and I had seen articles in the paper about the lack of car availability. So we called on the phone rather than try to reserve online and paid for a rental at National Airport. Arrived at the train station, took the Metro out to National, and walked up to the Gold podium at Hertz--showed them our receipt indicating that the car was paid for. I think there were all of two or three cars in the garage--he waved us to the President's Club (we are not members) and we got our car. I'm planning a trip this June and I think we'll try that again...
 
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Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
May 31, 2009
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24,368
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Austin Texas
I rented from Hertz once at Union Station. I wanted an economy car. All they had was a gas guzzling SUV. With the high prices of gas in California,I was not happy. Never rented from them again.
Last time I rented a Car ( Hertz @ the Austin Airport which is notorious for messing up Reservations and being Short of Cars), I reserved an economy Car.( it was an unlimited Mileage, you buy the gas deal)

When my plane landed, and I got to the Rental Counter in the Parking Garage,( you have to walk from the Terminal across a Skyway)they tried to give me a Suburban that was Bigger than the USS Enterpris.( for the same price!).🤯🤬

When I declined, they suddenly found a , Small Lincoln SUV that someone had turned in early, it was serviced and cleaned and ended up being the Best Rental Car I ever had!😊YMMV
 

Gary Behling

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 28, 2019
Messages
92
Has anyone here successfully rented from the Avis at LA Union station? I had made a reservation months ago and went to pick up my car last Thursday. The employee gave me a confused look, and while she could see my reservation, she said "we have no cars here at all". Literally no vehicles.

She said she couldn't do anything for me, as did Avis customer service. I have status with Avis, and I've never had issues with them before, so this was a bit shocking. While Avis customer service claimed they had no cars available in the entire region, I suspected this was BS, so I made a quick reservation online for pick up at Burbank, hopped on the Metrolink, and had my car within the hour. Burbank Airport seemed to have plenty of cars. Anyone else experienced something like this?

Holy cow--- I have never encountered a situation where they said there was nothing they could do for me. So I looked up the AVIS policy on a no car situation. In order for you to be guaranteed a car when there are NO OTHER cars available, you have to be either in the Presidents club or the Chairman's club and both are by "Invitation Only"

From now on, I'm going to modify my plans when traveling Amtrak to take this into consideration. This is kinda scary!!!
 

Trollopian

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
Messages
279
Location
Washington, DC and Pittsburgh, PA
Has anyone here successfully rented from the Avis at LA Union station? I had made a reservation months ago and went to pick up my car last Thursday. The employee gave me a confused look, and while she could see my reservation, she said "we have no cars here at all". Literally no vehicles.

She said she couldn't do anything for me, as did Avis customer service. I have status with Avis, and I've never had issues with them before, so this was a bit shocking. While Avis customer service claimed they had no cars available in the entire region, I suspected this was BS, so I made a quick reservation online for pick up at Burbank, hopped on the Metrolink, and had my car within the hour. Burbank Airport seemed to have plenty of cars. Anyone else experienced something like this?

Yes, something similar has happened to me. Not at LA, but at Enterprise in downtown Pittsburgh, next to the bus terminal and a block from the Amtrak station (though of precious little use for train travelers because its hours don't mesh with the Pennsylvanian and the Capitol Limited). A confirmed reservation but no cars. No apology and no compensation either. I hopped the next 28X "Airport Flyer" bus (https://www.pittsburgh-airport.com/bus.php; at $2.75, one of the city's great bargains) to the airport where I found plenty of cars. Though I was $2.75 and a couple of hours poorer.

To quote a famous Seinfeld episode, ""You know how to take the reservation. You just don't know how to hold the reservation!"
 

choochoodood

Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 25, 2013
Messages
133
Location
Ohio
Has anyone here successfully rented from the Avis at LA Union station? I had made a reservation months ago and went to pick up my car last Thursday. The employee gave me a confused look, and while she could see my reservation, she said "we have no cars here at all". Literally no vehicles.

She said she couldn't do anything for me, as did Avis customer service. I have status with Avis, and I've never had issues with them before, so this was a bit shocking. While Avis customer service claimed they had no cars available in the entire region, I suspected this was BS, so I made a quick reservation online for pick up at Burbank, hopped on the Metrolink, and had my car within the hour. Burbank Airport seemed to have plenty of cars. Anyone else experienced something like this?
When I rented a car after arriving at LA Union Station on the SL/TE, I booked Enterprise at a downtown location (4th & Figueroa). They were supposed to pick me up at the station, but didn't have anyone to do so at the time. They told me to take Uber (10 minute ride through weekday morning traffic), and they would take the cost of that off my bill, which they did. Overall, the experience was good.
 

Maverickstation

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 2, 2017
Messages
330
Location
Boston, MA (Eastie)
In October I needed a rent a car when we were leaving Philly, after arriving earlier in the day on Amtrak. I booked the rental to pick up the car at the airport (taking Septa to the airport), plenty of cars available and no issues. That said the same companies office at 30th Street had plenty of people waiting. If you have the ability to pick up a car at the nearest airport, I would recommend it.

At home in Boston when I want to rent an SUV to drive up to Maine, I always book for pick up at the airport, as opposed to the city offices.

Ken
 

SubwayNut

Conductor
Joined
Nov 17, 2011
Messages
1,557
Location
South Bend
I don't really trust car rentals these days and always have a plan B if no cars are avaliable. In October we needed to fly into Newark to go to a resort in the Catskills. Car rentals at Newark Airport itself were really expensive and the less driving on the NJ Turnpike the better, so I found a Budget location by the Rutherfold NJ Transit station that was $200 less. When we landed I called the car rental place and they confirmed we had a car and we took the Monorail to two NJ Transit trains.
Backup plan was to go the airport car rental center and a rent a car last minute and if that failed NJ Transit to Amtrak or Metro-North and an expensive uber or taxi to our destination.

Have a trip coming up in a few weeks. Week long Disney Cruise and then 4 days at Disney World. We are flying into Melbourne (it was cheaper strangely) the night before and are planning to rent a car to drive to our hotel and then the cruise port. If no cars are avaliable Ubers will hopefully be a similar price for the transfers we need.

We looked at Renting a car for our 4 days at WDW but prices were so ridiculous (plus the extra $100 even for parking at our hotel) that me and my partner yesterday decided to book shuttles cruise to Disney World hotel and one of the new airport bus options to MCO to leave, that even if we took ubers instead of Disney transportation it's going to take a lot to spend the $450 more it was going to cost if we rented a car for this part of the trip.

Planning trips that don't require renting a car feels so much more economical since they've gotten so expensive because of the pandemic. I also always try and have a back up plan now if cars aren't avaliable.
 
Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
3,586
Location
Los Angeles
Train schedules and Car Rentals don’t jive For LD traveling. It’s always a hassle with what to do with luggage, with the rentals open hours and getting to the rental before or the station after returning the car.
Not to mention the delays at the desk I’ve seen posted here.
 
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fdaley

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 25, 2020
Messages
459
Location
upstate New York
Hmmm, My wife and I are planning to take the Acela and rent a car in Boston for our summer trip to Maine this year. Never had any problem with the South Boston Enterprise I've been using for years, but, then, I haven't done this in the summer since the Pandemic. I wonder if we should rent from the airport and that's the Silver Line from South Station.

Besides the issue of availability, you might want to check the pricing. My brother-in-law was flying into Boston last summer and wanted to rent a car to take to Maine for a six-day visit. He was shocked to find the best available price for a car at Logan was well over $1,000; he had expected based on past years that the bill would be $300-$400 at most. We adjusted our travel plans so we could pick him up from the Downeaster in Portland.
 
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