A Visit to Colorado Springs
Yesterday I was in Colorado Springs visiting the House of Miles, the headquarters of BoardingArea, Inside Flyer and many other frequent flyer related businesses. The purpose of my visit was to work with the BoardingArea team to improve Miles to Memories. I am really excited at some of the new features coming to the site very soon!
I actually started my trip from Las Vegas to Colorado Springs with a quick drive down to Los Angeles on Sunday to process my Six Flags Season Pass. Since I was in the area, I stayed at the category 2 Hyatt Regency Valencia. A decent property, but not my favorite Hyatt overall. (My review.)
On Monday, I spent 8 hours
sitting working in LAX before my flight to Denver. (Torture I know!) The only flight available from LAX-DEN that I could book cheaply with miles was a 9PM departure on US Airways. I booked the flight with British Airways Avios and hoped to use my trick to move to an earlier flight.
The earlier flight on US Airways was at 3:15pm, meaning I had to get to the airport early. When I arrived, the desk agent informed me the earlier flight was overbooked, but he did upgrade me to first class as an AAdvantage member. My time in LAX wasn’t all bad though, since I did get to spend some time walking the tunnels beneath the terminals, which was like a trip back in time!
Arrival in Denver & Denver Fox Rent a Car Failure
Upon finally landing at Denver after midnight (and realizing that I had forgotten to bring a jacket), I headed out to the car rental platform to wait for the Denver Fox Rent a Car shuttle. I avoided renting from Fox for many years, but I have had a couple of recent experiences that were decent enough and there prices are usually significantly lower than their competition.
Once on the platform I noticed shuttles from every car rental company. Even shuttles from EZ Rent a Car and Advantage passed by. Surely the Denver Fox Rent a Car shuttle wouldn’t be far behind. After 25 minutes of waiting and watching all of those other shuttles come and go a couple of times, I decided to call, but there wasn’t an answer. (I didn’t know, but all of the rental car facilities are next to each other, so I probably could have taken a different shuttle and just walked over to Denver Fox Rent a Car.)
Finally I pulled out my phone to check car rental prices at other companies. Most of the major companies wanted 3-4x what it was costing at Fox ($21), however Advantage only wanted $16. I have resisted renting from Advantage because of bad reviews, but when their shuttle circled around again, I hopped on board and booked the rental on the ride over to the facility.
The Advantage Experience
When I finally made it inside to the check-in counter, the agent was pleasant and didn’t push their insurance on me nor did she try to sell me fuel. (She mentioned them as options, but moved on when I said “no”!) While I was worried she wouldn’t have my reservation given that I had just booked it, that wasn’t a problem. It was on the top of her screen!
The only small issue with my check-in was the fact that there weren’t any small cars available on the lot. Instead, she explained that I would be driving a Luxury Edition Dodge Caravan. While the gas mileage wasn’t as good, it was a beautiful van with leather seats, GPS and all of the other bells and whistles. A van that seats 7 with just me to drive!
After getting off the lot, I made the 90 minute drive to Colorado Springs and arrived at my hotel around 2:45am! While the day started early at 9:30 the next (same) morning, my trip out to Colorado Springs was productive and totally worth it! The experience was a reminder of a few things though.
- Always check rental car rates at competing companies on the day of pickup – Rental car rates change often. I am not sure if I would have rented through Advantage or not, however it is always a good idea to see if another company is cheaper. Generally I do this, however for some reason I didn’t check on this trip.
- Try to avoid late night landings which involve onward travel – While I really believed that I would get on that earlier flight, I probably should have booked a hotel at Denver Airport and then driven to Colorado Springs the next morning. Thankfully I still had enough energy to make the drive safely and wasn’t falling asleep.
- Don’t wear shorts and forget to bring a jacket when flying into Denver at midnight in late October. (Doh!)
Things go wrong when traveling. While it would have been easy to freak out, I was flexible enough to find another alternative to get on my way. That is why I believe it is so important to hone your travel skills and have a range of tools available for when you run into situations like these.
So what do you think? Have you ever been stranded on the curb? Let me know!