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A nice hint for visitors is that Seattle has implemented a flat rate from dowtown Hotels to Seatac airport, but not the other way around. The fare is now $40 which is a good deal for those looking for a quick and easy way to Seatac. From the airport the rate is metered and with traffic can often run $40-42 or more. Seattle and King County have authorized a $1 airport fee for cabs exiting Seatac. Cabs are also authorized to charge 50 cents for each passenger over two. Since cabs meter both by time and miles the towncars are close in price and more convenient for a few reason. There are flat rate limos and towncars run by STILA the Seatac airport official limo provider. By calling #55 from a white telephone near the hotel ads in baggage claim a car will be dispatched to the door closest to you in baggage claim. This will avoid having you bring your luggage up and over the skybridnge and into the pkg garage where cabs pick up psgrs. The rate is now $40 so not a big difference for a nicer ride. No need to reserve as they are always there.
For taxi estimates, the popular Seattle Taxi Fare Finder is available. It provides estimates based on Seattle's current taxi rates and also displays potential flat rates, such as the ones mentioned above.
There is a new type of taxi service in Seattle called flat rate taxis. They look like taxis but must be called and prearranged. One of the perks is they don't meter by time so in traffic your not paying more. They charge by zip code so can be a great deal. The largest one has 200 cars and is called Flat Rate For Hire. Their website is flatrateforhire.com and you can call and get the fares. They text you when the car is close by.
If your travel plans will take you outside of downtown Seattle, you'll probably want to rent a car. If possible, try to rent a car from a non-airport location. Like many other cities, Seattle has imposed significant airport fees on car rentals.
Seatac airport just opened a central car rental garage. Almost all rental firms are now located at this facility. There is a shuttle bus from the far right or left side of baggage claim outside by the curb. There is an additional fee added to your rental to pay for this rental car facility, another reason to rent off site or downtown.
Local, state and federal agencies are increasingly using a play in their gamebook called Pin the Tax on the Visitor. When it comes to gouging airport rental-car customers, Seattle is among the worst.
Non-airport government agencies charge 18.7% in taxes. On top of that is an 11.11% airport facilities fee. Add to that the new customer facility charge of $5.38 a day and you wind up with a bill that rivals Bill Gates' net worth.
OK, that's not exactly true. But what is true is that travelers are an easy target for hit-and-run taxes because they generally don't vote in the jurisdiction that's gouging them for that new stadium. Immoral? Unethical? You be the judge.
While you're debating that, consider your options:
Rent downtown. It's generally cheaper off-airport. A recent search showed almost a $400 difference on a one week rental in July 08! Hertz has an office close to the airport but also has an office in downtown at the Hyatt hotel. Most major car rentals also have offices in downtown. I'd highly suggest going to expedia.com or similar and indicate your interested in a non airport locations to see if there is a substantial difference in cost. Its not always all that dramatic but if you can save $100 its definitely worth the taxi ride. Be aware that most offsite rentals close at 6 pm so that is one big deal if you arrive in non working hours. Some downtown car rental locations also allow you to return your rental directly to the airport without a drop fee.
Travellers' Tip - Read the agreement details thoroughly before booking as there are more tricks rental agencies pull here. I booked through Orbitz and the 'final' price was annotated by 'Base rate and taxes and fees' implying that was the actual total, but it only included the facility and energy fees. Their "Additional charges and fees" section only included age-related information. I finally found the taxes under "car rental rules" just above the booking button.
There are a few toll roads in Tacoma and the 520 bridge going to Bellevue which are now toll roads. They have no toll booths and bill you by mail. If your driving a rental car most will get billed then add a large administrative charge to the toll. To avoid this you can register your rental car license plate and give a credit card for a 14 day period. This will avoid this problem. Here is the information:More Information
Toll facilities in Washington state.
Short Term Account
Drivers can set up a Short Term Account within 72 hours of using the SR 520 Bridge or Tacoma Narrows Bridge to save 50 cents off the Pay By Mail toll rate for each crossing.
Short Term Accounts don’t require a pass or pre-paid amount. Just register the vehicle license plate and your tolls will be charged directly to your credit or debit card. Use the account for up to 14 days and then it automatically closes.
Some car rental firms are now offering mini leases for those who really want to explore a region. Avis for one offers a 30 day rental giving you the flexibility to really cover some geography. Other companies most likely offer the same thing but info can be found at avis.com/minilease
Parking in downtown Seattle is reasonably priced, compared to other cities. Fees vary depending on the day, with cheaper rates on weekends. Many lots have "early-bird" specials for cars entering the lot by 9 am. Seattle has just introduced a new system for metered street parking. If you're lucky enough to find street parking, look around to see if there is a "Pay to Park" sign posted nearby. If there is, you must find a green fare box installed on the sidewalk. There is about one fare box per block. Pay your parking fee here, and the box will issue you a ticket to affix to your car window. The benefit of this system is that you can take your unexpired time with you if you move to a new parking spot - the bad news is that drivers can no longer benefit from using someone else's unexpired meter time! Unlike pay lots, metered spots are free after 6 pm, and on Sundays and holidays.