Frustration grows over lack of rental cars at new OIA terminal

Most rental car companies still haven’t moved into Terminal C, forcing passengers to walk

Rental car customers arriving at the Orlando International Airport's new terminal are frustrated.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The frustration among passengers flying into and out of the new Terminal C at the Orlando International Airport is mounting for those dropping off or picking up rental cars.

Most rental companies have not yet moved into the $2.8 billion terminal that opened at the end of September, so there are almost no cars available in the Terminal C parking garage.

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That gives passengers no choice but to make the trek on foot and by train — unless they know about the newly added shuttle bus service that avoids the trek.

When the Stone family flew in from Jamaica and deplaned at Terminal C Tuesday afternoon, no one told them about the shuttle bus.

They said they tried to check in for their car rental at the rental counters in Terminal C, but no one was staffing the company from which they were renting.

The family of seven had with them more than a dozen bags and a crying toddler.

“Tired and aggravated,” they said. “All these extra steps. Not worth it.”

The Stones had to walk outside through the Terminal C parking garage because the pedestrian bridge connecting Terminal C and the Intermodal Facilty (train and tram station) isn’t finished. The airport put it on hold during the pandemic because no one knew how tourism or revenue would bounce back.

And most rental car companies still haven’t placed rental cars in the new terminal, so the old one is the only answer for now.

“We had to walk seven miles to get to customs, and now, we’re still walking,” another family member said during the trek. “Annoyed. With a crying kid. It’s not convenient at all. It’s pretty, but it’s not convenient.”

Like every other passenger in their situation, the Stones had to take the people-mover back to the old terminal and then make their way to the ground floor to the rental car pickup area in the Terminal A parking garage.

The Stones said it added an exhausting half hour to their already long journey.

Kevin Thibault inherited the situation when he took over as OIA CEO earlier this year.

“The most important thing is how do you restore? How do you respond?” Thibault said. “When you hear from customers who said this is not the experience that they expected, [we’re] responding to them by doing the shuttle service for the rental cars and restoring back those projects.”

At the National Airports Conference in Orlando Tuesday afternoon, Thibault explained to News 6 he’s already put the pedestrian bridge back on the books and is currently searching for a contractor to complete it. The towering pilings have already been installed.

In the meantime, Thibault is running a shuttle bus from the new terminal to the old terminal and vice versa for rental car customers. But the news about the shuttle bus is not making it to many passengers.

“So what we’re doing with that is working with our rental car partners as well as the ambassadors that we provide and positioning those ambassadors at the rental car counters in both locations,” Thibault said. “We’re trying to reinforce that not only with our ambassadors but also with our partners.”

Thibault said the pedestrian bridge will be finished in the next 15-18 months.

Rental car companies should be in place in Terminal C within the next few weeks, and some are already moving in now.

“So one of the things that we’re continuing to look at is, ‘How can I improve the experience?’” Thibault said. “Adding the shuttle that I’ve talked about, but what else can I do — both at A, B and C. And that will be a continual process. The feedback is very, very important for us.”

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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.