(MENAFN Press) (EMAILWIRE.COM, November 28, 2012 ) San Francisco, CA --
One-way car rentals became an extremely popular mode of transportation in the wake of the damage and travel disruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy in late October.
Many stranded fliers needing to get to their destinations in a hurry opted to take a rental car. Hertz, for example, saw demand shoot up all along the Eastern Seaboard even as far west as Chicago.
"A storm such as this changes our whole rental pattern," said Hertz spokesman Richard Broome. He noted that demand for one-way trips is "way off the charts," something that became commonplace immediately after the storm moved away.
Unlike some competitors, Hertz does not charge an extra fee for rentals not returned to the place where it was rented, although some daily rates are somewhat higher. But, for example, renting an economy car from Hertz on a Tuesday in Midtown Manhattan and returning it in downtown Washington, D.C., cost 47.34, according to Hertz.
Another car rental company, Enterprise Holdings (which comprises Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent A Car, and National Car Rental) has seen a 40 percent increase in one-way rental demand in the week following the storm. Broome said Hertz expects the final total to be more than 10,000, which is thousands above normal.
Enterprise Holdings spokeswoman Laura Bryant said that National was not charging a one-way fee, either, something that is line with the company's creed, which is "this is a time to make friends, not profits.
That could not be said for all car rental companies, however. A review of Thrifty Car Rentals website showed that renting an economy car that same day, going from Washington, D.C. to Palm Beach, Fla., would cost 589.98, including a 438.24 one-way drop-off charge.
The issue for car rental companies is that one-way rentals may get cars out of position, causing a substantial headache for the company. Several offices have been closed as a result of the storm, either due to damage, power outages, or from being in low-lying areas where cars had to be relocated. According to Bryant, some of Enterprise's offices are reopening, and they are "bringing back cars" and have been "flooded with requests," Enterprise also is a principal supplier of vehicles to clean-up agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other storm responders.