Rental cars still in short supply at Orlando airport terminal amid holiday travel season

Airport moved rental-car shuttle bus to arrivals in effort to lessen walking times

Orlando International Airport is about to serve 3 million passengers over the next two weeks, expecting an increase in holiday traffic by as much as 17% compared to last year.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando International Airport is about to serve 3 million passengers over the next two weeks, expecting an increase in holiday traffic by as much as 17% compared to last year.

But the rental car situation at the new terminal — for pick-ups — has not improved over the last month.

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All passengers can drop off rental cars at the newly-completed $2.8 billion south terminal, no matter from which company they rented.

But SIXT is still the only car rental company set up for both drop-offs and pick-ups in the Terminal C parking garage.

MCO leaders have not given a timeline on when the other car rental companies will be fully up-and-running at Terminal C.

MCO CEO Kevin Thibault said setting up a rental car operation in a new parking garage takes time.

“Each onsite rental car provider is scheduled to implement full rental car services based on their specific operations,” Thibault said. “SIXT’s operational model allowed it to proceed to full service in Terminal C, while the others are still awaiting delivery of garage booths and other amenities.”

Scott and Joanna Strang, who flew through Terminal C to and from Buffalo, said picking up their rental car at the old terminal was frustrating.

“We didn’t realize the rental car was going to be in a different location in a different terminal,” the Strangs said. “It took us about two hours to traverse this (from Terminal C to A/B). There’s a tram someone told us about, but it was a little later at night, about 11 o’clock at night. By the time we exited the rental car (area), it was 1:30.”

Passengers’ options are still limited if they’re flying into Terminal C and need a rental car:

  • Take the people-mover tram from the new to the old terminals (A and B) and walk the rest of the way, but that adds an extra 30 minutes or so depending on how much luggage you have and how quickly you can walk.
  • The airport has put a shuttle in place and even moved it to the top of Terminal C (6th floor), so you can board the bus on the same level where you arrive with less walking and no escalators or elevators. It will take you straight to the rental car area at the old terminal.

“In the meantime, we have evolved the rental process to include additional rental car counters near the ‘Meet and Greet’ area on level 6, repositioned the shuttle to that level to seamlessly transfer the passengers to their rental car site, and continue to push communications on these plans through multiple points,” Thibault said. “As was reported by local media two years ago during the pandemic, it was envisioned that there would be no rental car services in Terminal C due to the reduction of cost-saving measures, and it was anticipated that all passengers would transfer via the people mover to obtain their rental cars. This concept is not in keeping with the Orlando Experience, and as such, we put in place the items mentioned earlier.”

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About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.