I hire a car a few times a year; usually from Nice or Aberdeen and have become familiar with their set up. Both are fairly well connected to the terminal and have good Avis Preferred areas meaning it’s very quick to get behind the wheel. But I think I’ve found an even better one…
Avis is a partner with British Airways – if you book a fly drive holiday it’ll be an Avis car, you can earn Avios on your car bookings, get a free driver in you’re in the Executive Club.
It’s no surprise then that the only onsite car hire available from T5 is with Avis – all the rest require a shuttle bus.
Exit the airport from the northerly doors, the same ones you need for the Pod Parking and Sofitel (although you need to take the ones on the left for level 4 as the ones on the right service only 1 and 5). Immediately to the right when you exit the lift is the Avis office.
As I wrote here, I had hired a car for the night for £36, but could have got it cheaper if I’d waited a little longer. The Preferred queue was busy so I went to one of the other agents who, after tapping away on his keyboard, sent me across the the preferred desk which was a little silly.
My car was a little red Vauxhall (Opel for the European and Australian readers!) Corsa. I found it to be woefully under-powered with overzealous parking sensors – but it got me from A to B and back again.
Avis’ fuel policy is pick up full, return full or they will charge you £12 if under 75miles. When I got in the car it wasn’t full, but showing 7/8ths, so I went back to the office and asked the agent to make a note of it on my booking as I was not going to be returning it full and paying for the privilege. That was all duly done, and I put a gallon back in on the way to return it – the car has an on board computer which I reset and got about 50mpg on my 48miles so I think that was fair. I will have to keep an eye on my account as Avis have a habit of charging the credit card on file but they have also refunded 100% of the charges I’ve disputed so I’m confident any issues would get fixed.
Returning the car was easy – all I needed to do was drive back to the airport and into the short stay car park, staying to the left and following the signed or car hire returns. At the barrier, you take a ticket and leave it in the car. I parked right next to the office and although it was staffed, they were only on the desk and not processing returns. I asked them to make a note of the fuel issue and offer a copy of my receipt for their records, but the lady wasn’t interested. I left the keys in a little key safe outside and then took the 60 second walk to fast track and was in the lounge a minute later. You can see the office below and the yellow sign is where the lift is!
It was really convenient and, despite having a rubbish car, I thought the whole process was really smooth. I think it is the easiest car hire system I’ve ever used. I find it incredible just how close it is to the terminal and how quick it is to get to – perfect after a flight when you just want to get home or when you want to cut it fine to get to the airport.