By on December 11, 2018

Once upon a time, your transportation options upon touching down at a U.S. airport involved hailing a taxi, renting a car, or taking a shuttle to your hotel. Those options still exist, but business travellers and tourists can now waltz out the door and into a number of app-based ride-hailing services and a growing list, depending on location, of short-term, app-based car rental services that don’t carry any of the usual names seen at the rental line.

Hertz clearly felt that omitting a couple of minutes from the rental counter-to-destination trip might help it stay ahead of those pesky mobility upstarts. Enter the magic of biometrics.

Announced today, Hertz Fast Lane (officially, Hertz Fast Lane Powered by Clear) is now in operation at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, ahead of a 2019 rollout at 40 airports, including JFK, LAX, and SFO. The rental agency claims the new tech will allow customers to get on the road faster.

Available to Gold Plus Rewards members, the service relies on biometrics (fingerprints, iris scans, and facial scans) for its checkout system. To use it, you first need a Clear account with your biometric data contained within, linked to your Gold Plus Rewards account. Grab a car, and your physical identity will be confirmed via facial scan an automated kiosk at the exit gate.

“Prior to the use of Clear, we have an exit gate process that takes two minutes on average,” said Jodi Allen, chief marketing officer at Hertz, told Bloomberg. “As a result of putting Clear in place we’re able to get our customers out the exit gate in 30 seconds or less, which is a 75 percent improvement. On Monday mornings in Atlanta where there are surge customers, making sure we can get people out significantly faster makes everybody’s experience better.”

Hertz claims Clear is free to use if you’re a rewards member, and there’s discounts available for Clear’s time-saving airport service.

While it doesn’t erase the existence of Uber, Lyft, Maven, ZipCar, or Turo (et al), smoothing out the traditional rental experience is one way of keeping customers who now have all the choice in the world.

[Image: Hertz]

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16 Comments on “Hertz Rolls Out an Faster Airport Exit So You Don’t Hail An Uber...”

  • avatar

    I am a Hertz Gold customer and what kills time at the gate is two things: 1) other cars waiting in line in front of you and 2) answering the question about refueling they always ask despite having the answer preset in my profile. Handing over my license to verify its really me renting the car, which is what this “Clear” system does, isn’t the bottleneck. If the Fast Lane is a dedicated exit then it might help until it becomes popular or doesn’t work creating a log jam in a different line.

    Once you are a Gold Member you skip the real horror of car rentals: the dreaded rental counter (cue Jerry Seinfeld episode). I land, get an email on my phone that tells which section or stall where my car is. Once found I toss my bags in, adjust mirrors (and radio stations), fire up Waze and drive off. Its pretty much optimized as is. The only help would be better signage when looking for the stall plus covered stalls at LAX, PHL and some other locations would be nice.

    • 0 avatar

      Got the notice yesterday from Hertz.

      There is supposed to be a dedicated fast lane with the “clear” tech in Atlanta, it’s lane 5 in the exit que. I don’t see this shaving much time off of the current system if you are Gold, 5 star or Presidents Circle since you shouldn’t need to visit the counter at all.

      Now that they have ultimate choice in the bigger airports, I usually don’t have much of a wait. Just jump in whatever is there and go, but the smaller airports with counter service are PAINFUL.

      From my experience issue at Hertz is customer service.
      The company just doesn’t have consistently good service at every location. Even if you are in the Presidents Circle, you are treated like you are a econobox insurance reimbursement rental client.

      It’s hit or miss even in the same city and their distribution of autos between airport and local editions is biased to the airport. Their back end systems are not much better. There is no way to see what is available in a given area, you have to query each local edition separately to find, say a pick up truck. You can’t just see which location might have a truck available based on your rental date.

      • 0 avatar

        After a couple recent incidents, I have to admit that after more than a decade as a President’s Circle member, the ONLY thing keeping me loyal to Hertz is that the Reward Points don’t expire. I have a gazillion of them because I very rarely rent cars personally. You aren’t kidding, their customer service if anything goes sideways with a rental SUCKS.

        Most recently, I rented a car at Roanoke, VA (actually a Tahoe, as it happened). Had it for a couple days, put 53 miles on it. Returned it at 4am, gas tank filled, and since less than a 75 mile rental, included the gas receipt in my folio. Of course, that location doesn’t open until 6:30, so dropped it all in the drop box. Next day, got an updated an updated bill with a $169 refueling charge on it. Oh, H3LL no! Called Hertz. “Send us a copy of the receipt”. OK, done – work travel so receipt picture is in our expense app. Nothing for two weeks. Call again. And again. Finally disputed the charge with my credit card – now THOSE guys get customer service! They tried and tried to get in touch with Hertz about this and finally gave up and reversed the charge.

        Then there is the night I landed in Augusta, GA at 11:05PM to find the Hertz counter locked up tight – my flight was 10 minutes late, they closed at 11… But I had my flight info in my reservation! I raised heck about that one with the local manager when I returned and got the rental for free AND the uber back and forth to my hotel covered, but seriously?? Sucky part was they had assigned me a Vovlo S90, which I was excited to try, and I got stuck with yet another crappy Q50 when I went back the next morning.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree with you 100%. Getting out of the Hertz garage is rarely an issue. And this would probably only be at the biggest airports anyway – all the smaller ones you still have to go to the counter (though in theory they have everything ready to go).

      Even as a VERY frequent flyer, I don’t get the point of Clear. It costs 5X(?) as much as Pre Check, and all it does is get you to the head of the Pre Check line very slightly faster. This morning at DCA there was a longer line at the Clear kiosks than Pre Check (2 people vs. none). I walked right by them to the TSA dude. Maybe it has value at some airports at certain times, but unless somebody else was paying for it, I can’t imagine it being worthwhile. I get Pre Check paid for as a credit card perk.

      • 0 avatar

        The first incarnation of Clear was from a time before PreCheck — it made a bit more sense then. And it still went out of business.

        I don’t know what the business model is for the reanimated company, but I suspect it isn’t based on subscription revenue.

  • avatar

    Do they need a urine sample too?

  • avatar

    “an faster”?

    • 0 avatar

      “Hertz Rolls Out an Faster Airport Exit So You Don’t Hail An Uber”

      You beat me to it, JD.
      Hey, Steph, great article topic. Just re-read it once before hitting “POST”, please!! (And why is one “an” capitalized, and the other on not?)

      Good luck to Hertz with this idea. It won’t make any difference in transportation choices, but at least the competition from Uber is forcing the corporations to up their game.

    • 0 avatar

      “Hertz Rolls Out an Faster Airport Exit So You Don’t Hail An Uber”

      You beat me to it, JD.
      Hey, Steph, great article topic. Just re-read it once before hitting “POST”, please!! (And why is one “an” capitalized, and the other one not?)

      Good luck to Hertz with this idea. It won’t make any difference in transportation choices, but at least the competition from Uber is forcing the corporations to up their game.

  • avatar

    I gave up on Hertz a couple of years ago. I don’t rent many cars, but when I did it seemed like the counter line at Hertz was longer and slower than others. So I became a gold member and the last time I used them I reserved a “4-runner or similar” and then the text came saying “your Chrysler 300 is ready at space number…”. It was irritating reserving a certain car class and then being told once I got there that they didn’t have anything left in that class.

    Since then for me it has been only Enterprise who has been fantastic.

  • avatar

    Screw the whole fingerprint thing.

    What I want to know is where Hertz has a bunch of those Lotuses for rent, and what’s the nearest racetrack?

  • avatar

    I gave up on Hertz years ago, when the premium price still got me only worn and dirty cars.
    This last time I made a reservation with Enterprise. First I waited 15 min for their bus. Then the bus made the grand tour of O’Hare. Then I got to their rental office and the line (with two agents working) was about 8 people long, in front of me. I pressed the Uber app and had a ride in literally 3 minutes. Good bye rental cars in Chicago!!!! Whatever extra I spend on Uber is compensated for by not paying to park a rental at either a hotel or a restaurant. I also never have to look for a gas station with an Uber or pay $8/gallon if I am tight on time when returning.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think I have ever gotten an Uber faster than the time it takes to pickup a rental car as a Gold Member anywhere in the US. Possible exceptions being the handful of airports where the Ubers line up like a cab rank.

      I do use Uber a fair amount, but only because I am someplace where having a car is inconvenient due to lack of parking or cost of parking.

      If it weren’t for the rewards program, I too would have bailed on Hertz by now. But everyone else has rewards that expire, as far as I know.

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