Car Rental Companies Strive to Meet Growing Travel Demand

STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) – As more places reopen and COVID restrictions continue to ease, daylight saving time travel is on the rise. However, people looking to get on the road or book a flight may experience disruption related to the pandemic.

Demand for rental cars is on the rise with 62% of Virginians surveyed saying they plan to take a trip this summer, according to AAA.

“It’s even higher than a normal year. You really see people wanting to go out and do things, ”said Andrew Wiley, owner of Consumers Auto Warehouse (CAW) at Staunton.

With a dramatic increase in rental inquiries, the CAW says they are trying to keep pace.

Consumers Auto Warehouse typically has around 15 rental cars. Right now there are only about five in the lot and almost all of them are already booked.

“We have to juggle reservations just to make sure we have cars coming back and are available to people when they have a reservation. A lot of times people call for a week or 10 days and we don’t have anything available during that time, ”Wiley explained.

Getting more cars to rent has also been a challenge.

“It used to be quite easy to replenish our rental fleet. We would just go to the auction and buy a newer model of a low mileage van or car, but as everyone knows the auto market is really tough right now. It is even very difficult to find these vehicles at a lower price, ”said Wiley.

And for the first time in 20 years, Consumers Auto Warehouse had to purchase new cars to supplement its rental fleet.

If you’ve got a trip planned for later in the summer and need a rental car, Wiley says you should start making reservations now.

“The only other thing is to check with the rental agency what their reservation policy is. We have a lot of people calling us and had a reservation at another location and they show up and they don’t have a car available, ”Wiley said.

Cost is another thing to keep in mind when renting. AAA reports that average daily car rental rates have doubled with prices exceeding $ 100 per day.

“People are amazed at how much it costs to rent a minibus for a week or a car for a week. They doubled and tripled, ”Wiley said.

The CAW also had to increase their prices, for the first time in 12 years, based on the cost of new cars.

“You might consider taking your own car. I know a lot of people decide to hire a car because it’s more convenient, but just check those prices and do a little cost-benefit analysis before deciding what to do, ”Wiley said.

Meanwhile, airports in the United States continue to establish record-breaking checkpoints. The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2 million people on Sunday for the first time since March 2020.

With the increase in the number of travelers, TSA is also facing a staffing shortage nationwide, with transportation security officer attrition 40% lower than pre-pandemic levels.

However, TSA says they feel able to handle the increased demand for travel. Here is a statement from the TSA:

“The Transportation Security Administration is well positioned to respond to growing volumes of travelers. As in previous years, the agency launched a concerted recruiting effort last winter in anticipation of increased volumes and is in line with the benchmarks established to meet hiring goals. The agency continues to leverage creative and established recruitment strategies to meet staffing needs, including nationwide recruitment incentives and targeted retention incentives in strategic markets.

The TSA increases its recruitments each spring to prepare for summer travel, which is the busiest season of the year for them.

So far, TSA says it has hired around 3,100 new TSOs for summer 2021 volumes, with more candidates in the hiring pipeline. They add that they have received an average of more than 5,000 requests for transport security officers per week.

Currently, the TSA offers new hires $ 1,000 recruiting incentives across the country.

Retention incentives are also used to supplement the salaries of the overall uniformed workforce in a particular labor market and are aimed at improving employee retention given the competition for the workforce. works in a specific area, according to the TSA.

In addition to hiring new TSOs, the TSA has allowed part-time employees to convert to full-time positions, increase overtime, and adjust shifts to support travel volumes. summer.

A TSA spokesperson wrote to WHSV that staffing has not been an issue locally.

“There is no personnel problem at SHD for TSA. We have enough TSA agents to handle the flights. There are very few flights from SHD, ”Lisa Farbstein said in an email.

Copyright 2021 WHSV. All rights reserved.


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Pamela W. Robbins

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