The Free Way We Saved an Hour at the Honolulu Airport — and Beyond

Jun 18, 2019

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Flying to Hawaii, while worth it, takes quite a while. At best, you’re looking at about a six-hour flight from the West Coast; it can easily be much longer if you are flying from Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago or the longest domestic route out there: Boston to Honolulu, which rings in at about 5,000 flown miles. The last thing you probably want to do when you land is wait some more before starting your tropical vacation — yet that is exactly what happens to many travelers who rent a car in Hawaii.

When we stepped off our Hawaiian Airlines flight to Honolulu last week, we took the shuttle bus to the Hertz rental car area and my jaw dropped at the long line to pick up a rental car. It easily looked to be an hour long as it snaked out the door and potentially worse.

Hertz rental counter at HNL (Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

We had picked Hertz as our rental car company of choice in order to take advantage of the four-hour grace period afforded with The Platinum Card® from American Express, as we only needed the rental for about 28 hours. But it wasn’t that grace period or the Amex Platinum that saved us that day — all that was required to skip the line was a free Hertz Gold Plus membership.

Despite the long wait to pick up cars in the regular rental line, I walked through the Gold Plus Rewards section straight to the counter. (At many Hertz locations, you don’t even have to do that — you just walk right to whatever car you want in the Gold Choice aisle.) I truly felt bad for the families who were wasting an hour of their trip in the airport’s rental car garage, but also was happy to not be those people. And, it’s not just Hertz that offers skip-the-line access to customers. Many other car rental companies extend the same benefit to their loyalty program members.

Regardless of your car rental company of choice, if you want to avoid wasting time picking up your rental car, be sure and book the vehicle with your rental car membership number attached. Signing up for a membership may add a few minutes to your travel preparations on the front end, but getting straight to the fun when you land is worth the effort. It’s not just Honolulu where this happens — the situation basically repeated itself in Kauai a week or so later. Orlando, Vegas and other leisure travel markets where people frequently rent cars can also have seriously long car rental waits if you don’t book with a membership number attached.

Has this free way of skipping rental car lines worked for your family?

Here are some other tips for ensuring your car rental is as smooth as possible:

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