On a recent business trip to the UK we discovered how Europcar have added a different dimension when picking up your car rental at Heathrow Airport. …… You get to actually pick out and choose your car!
OK so arriving at Terminal 3 still requires you to exit the Terminal, head left and wait for Europcar’s minibus to whisk you off to their branch on the Northern Perimeter Road. The wait was short the journey shorter still.
Europcar along with Hertz, Enterprise, national and Thrifty operate their Heathrow branches over the airport fence on the Northern Perimeter. Dollar and Thrifty are a stone throws further on Bath road, whilst Avis and Budget have branch locations within the Short Stay Car park of Terminal 5 (used exclusively by BA and Iberia) as well as on Northrup road adjacent to the Northern Perimeter. So whichever rental company you choose you’ll never have to travel for more than 10-15 minutes depending upon traffic and with minibuses regularly scooting around each terminal the wait there is not long either.
Arriving at the Europcar branch we took our ticket and grabbed a seat. Barely had we may made ourselves comfortable when we were greeted by an English Shakespearean (as it turned out) actor-come-entertainer, wearing a kilt, orange wig and tam o’shanter hat who was there to keep us all occupied whilst we waited to be called up. My job involves a fair bit of travel around the world and I have to say this was a first! What a great idea. Whilst his Scots accent and absence of a sporran would fail to impress north off the border he kept everyone entertained and enjoying themselves and in no time we were called up.
Once we had completed the paperwork formalities rather than being directed to a particular bay to collect our car we were asked to go out and choose from any vehicle in Row 3 and the sign-off would be completed as we left the branch. Whether we were lucky with our timing or whether Europcar maintain a large number of vehicles onsite we had a huge choice of 10 vehicles. As our trip involved over 30 days business travel throughout the UK and given this unexpected choice we needed to ensure we had the right vehicle. Perhaps too much choice! Up and down we went testing bags and cases in boots, rear-seating legroom, previous smoker occupation, figuratively kicking tyres and checking out the driving features of each car. We settled on a Nissan Quasqai and headed for the exit where all the details were quickly recorded and we were on the road.
Overall our experience in collecting our car hire at Heathrow Airport was a good one. Offsite airport rental branches may appear inconvenient but are a necessity in many parts of the world with onsite costs and space constraints. With the regular cycling of minibuses and efficiency of the Europcar Heathrow team we were on the road within 45 minutes of exiting customs, not bad for one of the world’s business airports. The added option of making our own vehicle choice meant we spent more time selecting our car but came away with the one that best met our needs. Great idea.