Monday, February 17, 2014

Hertz - Dane County Regional Airport

As I mentioned the other day, on our long weekend to the frozen Midwest, we flew into Madison, WI at the Dane County Regional Airport (MSN).

The airport was pretty simple and functional with a the usual souvenir shops and pseudo-"local" restaurants serving regional Wisconsin fare like brats and cheese dishes. We landed just before 4PM local time and made our way through towards baggage claim.

We had rented a car from Hertz for 48 hours to drive up to the Wisconsin Dells on Friday afternoon and back to Madison on Sunday. Using Autoslash, we were able to get our rental down to just $40 total. Pretty sweet.

Of course, we selected the small Compact car that seated 4 with enough trunk space for 1 large roller board, but it was enough for our short 1 hour drive and back. Here's a photo of what a Toyota Yaris normally looks like. I suppose my cheap father could have splurged a bit more and gotten us a full size vehicle, but we hardly used the rental car this weekend, so I suppose it was fine (albeit embarrassing). Most of the time, the rental agency will not have such a small car in stock, so they'll give up a free upgrade to the next largest tier. So we took our chances.

The Hertz counter (along with all the other car rental counters) are next to the Baggage Claim area on the bottom floor of the Dane County Regional Airport. While normal Hertz facilities allow #1 Club Gold members (free to join) to just head to their vehicle with the keys in the car, this location required you to stop by the counter and wait in line to get your keys. Not the end of the world. Considering it was about 11 degrees F outside, we were happy to handle our reservation indoors.

But unfortunately, my father's plan didn't work. No upgrade this time. We were given a 2014 Toyota Yaris with 6970 miles on it. Our compact car would be waiting for us in parking slot #38. So we made our way outside to the covered (but open air) parking garage where the rental cars were parked. Given NYC was a balmy 39 degrees when we left, having our faces crack upon feeling the frozen air reminded us that we were in Wisconsin in February.

Unfortunately, the Hertz cars in the parking garage were all numbers 1-19. Baffled, we walked around in the outdoor parking garage looking for our #38. Finally, my father realized that our car wasn't parked in the covered garage. Nope. It was parked OUTSIDE next to the garage. As seen on this computer generated model of the Dane County Regional Airport that my father commissioned stole off of Google images, you can see the massive covered parking garage, but then you will see the red circle where our $40 compact rental car was located. Did I mention that it was Wisconsin in February?

So of course, instead of having a clean car to start loading our luggage into, we had to make our way through some crushed snow that had accumulated all around the uncovered parking lot and then find that our beautiful red Toyota Yaris...

covered in about 2 inches of snow. Not the end of the world, but not something my parents were used to from Hertz. Of course, as my father looked around at all the other Hertz vehicles parked next to ours (still in the uncovered parking lot), they were all 100% free of snow as if someone went by and cleaned them all. Our rental car was literally the only one with snow over it.

But thankfully, Hertz was kind enough to include a brush to clean the snow off and scrape off the ice from the windshield. After remembering what it was like growing up in suburban NJ, my father cleaned off the vehicle and got it heated up. Off we were!

Fast forward to Sunday when we returned our car. Unlike most other airports where you would drive the car back to a checkout line where an agent would scan the car and mark it returned, at the Dane County Regional Airport, you had to park the car yourself and then bring the keys inside back to the Hertz counter. Fortunately for us, my father was able to find an open parking spot, though I imagine it would have been very stressful if we were running late and there weren't any open spots.

All in all, we still like Hertz over some of the other discount rental agencies. I mean, we can't really fault them too much given it was really more of the Dane County Regional Airport's infrastructure than anything else. But if we ever fly into Madison in the dead of winter again, we'll know what to expect for next time.


  1. Didn't you ask the manager or the Incharge why your $40 rented Toyota Yaris was the only one parked outside with a two- inch thick snow while the rest of the cars were clean? Did they explain why? They should improve the quality of their services. Always remember that customers are always right.

    1. Well, we got what we paid for. Not a huge deal, but can't complain for just $13/day.