WORST CAR RENTAL EXPERIENCE EVER
When I was in my twenties I traveled months every year for the Close Up Foundation using rental cars, hotels, and planes. When I was in my thirties I traveled months every year for Associated Builders and Contractors using rental cars, hotels, and planes. And when I was in my forties I traveled months every year for General Dynamics using rental cars, hotels, and planes. In all those years, I never had a worse car rental experience.
Our RyanAir flight from Nuremberg arrived in Malta on schedule at 10pm. The airport is equivalent to a small to mid-sized American airport. We left the Hertz car rental counter at 11:45pm. It took nearly two hours for a line of maybe seven clients ahead of us to check out their cars. It takes a lot to tire our three children, aged 7, 8, and 11 but waiting in this line after bedtimes after a two hour flight nearly accomplished this.
One humorous moment while in line was spying the car rental counter off to the side. SicilyByCar. If you are not familiar with Malta this may not be funny but Malta is an island. Sicily is an island. They are 100 miles apart. Separated by sea. So sure, let me rent a car at SicilyByCar to see….Malta.
Back to the long line at the car rental counter. Guess what?
There was a surcharge for picking your vehicle up after 9pm. So I paid for the privilege of waiting in line. Coming from America where I traveled for business for decades and picked up vehicles at all hours of the day and night it was startling to see an after hours charge. Before leaving the counter, a nearly 2,000 Euro deposit was taken from my AMEX Platinum. I thought this bad experience was over. It wasn’t.
There were probably 30 Americans on the flight with us from Germany to Malta. Several of those Americans had been ahead of us in the Hertz line. One of them was kind enough to text us that there was a SECOND line in the parking lot after you picked up your vehicle.
So we urged our tired children to walk double-time out the airport, across parking lot after parking lot to the rental car lot which was probably three quarters of a mile from the car rental desk. When we arrived, we kind of got in a second line. I say kind of because like many places in Europe, lines are more of an American construct that the rest of the world doesn’t necessarily follow. So we did what many Americans do–we noted who was there when we arrived, who arrived after us, and guided the only car rental employee working to serve customers based on their arrival.
After an additional thirty minute wait in the car rental lot, we were finally on our way to the Hilton. To the Hilton where friends were staying and had warned us that rooms weren’t ready, power was turning off, and an assortment of other problems.
First let me say I don’t expect any sympathy. We are blessed to live in Europe, have the money to travel and see so many new lands, and travel so well. However, it was disappointing to start a four day weekend trip with such an exhausting beginning.
Malta’s famous Blue Grotto.
The beautiful old fortified city of Mdina.
One weekend in Malta on less than one tank of gas.