I travel a lot. I know that. So I’m frequently renting cars. And my go to rental place is hotwire.com. I type in the location I’m interested in renting the car, and I take the least expensive car available and I’m done.
So that’s why I was heading to National/Alamo in Detroit on Friday around noon. Hotwire had randomly assigned them to me. And all I’d planned to do was to pick up a compact and head up to Bloomfield Hills.
The trip from the airport to the car rental place was pretty average – not short, not long. Just long enough to grab a map from the rack and try to figure out where we’d be heading in just a bit.
We get off the bus – and get greeted with a friendly smiling employee – and asked if we’d like to try to automated kiosk – or go traditional. I opt for traditional and join the short waiting line. That’s when I notice the bags of freshly popped popcorn. Yum. And free water bottles! Little mini ones – but hey – they were in a fridge and nice and cold. My kind of quick pick-me-up after a boring flight. In case we didn’t notice – an employee would occasionally walk by offering water and popcorn to everyone. Nice.
We check in as normal – no, we don’t want an upgrade, no, we don’t want the gas, no we don’t want insurance. We get our forms – and are told to take any car sitting in the compact lane. That’s cool. I prefer darker colored cars – so this way I get to choose.
Walking out – there’s another employee – grilling hotdogs. Looks yummy – but right now we’re focused on getting our car. We walk to the compact lane – no cars! We spot another employee and ask – what do we do. Her reply – you get a free up grade. Take any car you want!
Really? No joke? That’s so cool.
So – hey – I press my luck. You got a hybrid around? We’ve been thinking of getting one, and I’m worried about the silent engine. She looks around, says that there is not one in the lanes – but she thinks there might be one getting a car wash. She’ll check – but meanwhile, we should wait by the grill – maybe grab a hot dog.
We do, she does – and we drive away in a Hybrid Sonata! It’s very cool. No leather seats, but nice pick-up on the highway, completely silent when you turn it on – and of course, hard to be sure you’ve turned it off. The first few times – it kept beeping at us because we’d press the button once too often. But we eventually caught on. And at the end of the weekend of driving all around Bloomfield Hills – I’m guessing about 200 miles in total – our ‘fill-up’ cost us under $10.
Hybrids are cool. The Sonata is a very nice car. And the Alamo in Detroit is a great Car Rental Agency. One note – Hotdogs are only served on Thursday and Fridays! Popcorn and water are always available.