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Car Rental Hassles at Heathrow Airport

Boulder, Colorado
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Car Rental Hassles at Heathrow Airport

I'm flying into Terminal 5 at Heathrow, and I'm considering renting a car at the airport. I would appreciate any advice about the ease of renting at the airport ( if there are onsite rental offices in Terminal 5, whether there's a nearby shuttle to the car pick-up, whether I should expect any delays in shuttle service, etc.). Thank you in advance.

Richmond, VA
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1. Re: Car Rental Hassles at Heathrow Airport

Renting a car at Heathrow is easy, just like any other airport.

Each company has it's own shuttles that run regularly, the wait is minimal.

Don't know about T5 onsite car hire, there will probably be the company's desk with phone, but the actual paperwork is usually done at the lot.

Be sure to plan for the rental deposit on the card you use to pay for the car, usually about £250.

U.S. expats
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for Windsor, London, Dry Tortugas National Park
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2. Re: Car Rental Hassles at Heathrow Airport

Where will you be going that you will need a car? Many, if not most destinations in England are not car friendly. In Windsor you will pay for parking everywhere, even at a hotel. In London, there is the congestion tax to worry about, difficult driving conditions for one not accustomed to driving on the left in a city, and again, high rates to park.

Sometimes taking the train or coach is much more practical, as you can get from city center to city center in the least amount of time, and without the hassle of a car.

It may be more feasible to get to one of the destinations on your itinerary, then rent a car later in your trip. If you could provide your plans, it would be helpful.

Edited: 08 August 2011, 19:35
Richmond, VA
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3. Re: Car Rental Hassles at Heathrow Airport

But the question was about the how-to of car rental at Heathrow, not about whether or not a car should be rented.

We always rent a car, except when in London, because we travel a lot when in country.

JJSK, you should have little or no problems.

U.S. expats
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for Windsor, London, Dry Tortugas National Park
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4. Re: Car Rental Hassles at Heathrow Airport

I think the answer is valid, considering the OP says he is "considering" renting a car. Europe is not the car culture the U.S. is, and many people don't realize what other options there are. The same is true when Europeans visit the U.S. and wish to rely on (non-existent) public transportation.

Best regards

Watford
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for London
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5. Re: Car Rental Hassles at Heathrow Airport

It would help to know a little more about the OP's plans but at T5 Arrivals the car rental area consists of a small cubicle towards the north end of the terminal with phones located around a circular table to call the various companies. No personnel in situ.

I assume you are then instructed to proceed outside to the pick up area to catch a shuttle to the appropriate company where the paperwork is processed.

Richmond, VA
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6. Re: Car Rental Hassles at Heathrow Airport

Well, it's been our experience over the course of ten years of travel in the UK that very few places are not car friendly, London being the major exception.

The "considering" part of JJSK's question was whether or not to rent the car at the airport or from a location off-site.

Not whether to rent a car in the first place.

Although I can see that LauraRW's answer was meant to be informative, I do believe in just answering the question asked, rather than going off in another direction. Can be too much information sometimes.

Edited: 09 August 2011, 14:12
Boulder, Colorado
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7. Re: Car Rental Hassles at Heathrow Airport

Thank you everyone for your input. I apologize for the lack of clarity in my post. I do need to rent a car, and I was trying to decide whether I wanted to rent at LHR and deal with extra hassles and cost or rent off site. Thankfully I will not be driving in London or any major city but rather through the lovely Cotswolds.

Kent, United Kingdom
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8. Re: Car Rental Hassles at Heathrow Airport

Well I thought the answer given by LauraRW was helpful

Many people travelling to the UK (esp London )do not realise it is NOT car friendly.

I have made the choice NOT to drive in the UK anymore and I can still get around.

A car is not always a good idea.

Richmond, VA
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9. Re: Car Rental Hassles at Heathrow Airport

>>Many people travelling to the UK (esp London )do not realise it is NOT car friendly.<<

There was no indication that JJSK was going to drive in London as her question was framed.

And as it turns out, she won't be, but will be driving in the opposite direction from London.

This is also not her first trip, she has driven in the UK before and her question was should she pick up at the airport or not.

If some choose not to drive in the UK all well and good, that's their choice.

But to impose that decision on others isn't the answer she needed, nor is it to assume that JJSK knows nothing about the UK.

I've NOT found driving in the UK to be car unfriendly and will be driving there in September, LWATCDR.

My experience has been that UK drivers are courteous, obey the rules of the road and that the lorrie drivers certainly drive much more safely than the truck drivers in the US do.

JJSK, have a lovely trip!

TX
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10. Re: Car Rental Hassles at Heathrow Airport

We rented at Heathrow and drove to Wiltshire to visit friends, then on to the Cotswolds. I won't lie and say it was the easiest thing I've ever done - I had a bit of trouble just getting OUT of the airport, particularly since it had been a number of years since I've driven in the UK and had to readjust to roundabouts. We confirmed our reservations at the Enterprise desk in the terminal and were shuttled fairly quickly to the car park to pick up our vehicle. The bigger issue was actually driving back to Heathrow on our return, as we encountered rush hour traffic and managed to get turned around at the airport, having a bit of difficulty getting back to the Enterprise lot. Just be sure you know exactly where you're going to avoid any problems.