Vegas Flight Cancellations Reportedly Lead to Rental Car Demand, Skyrocketing Prices

Many travelers who can’t get flights due to storm-related delays or cancellations are opting for car rentals to get home. But cars are getting harder to come by as demand increases.

Car rental signs are familiar sights in airports
Car rental signs are familiar sights in airports. Given the number of delayed or canceled flights, demand and price for car rentals are increasing this week. (Image: WorkSmart)

Prices for car rentals are sharply escalating, too, KLAS, a Las Vegas TV station, reported on Monday. Questions arose if there is price gouging given the limited supply and large demand.

The cost definitely doubled, if not tripled,” Sandra Curry complained to KLAS about rental price tags.

If travelers can’t afford the cost, they may skip visiting relatives this holiday season altogether, she said.

Billy Spencer of Austin, Texas, told KLAS, “I am paying $1,800 for one day, so that means that the rental car companies are gauging [sic] folks that are stuck.”

First, Spencer had to drive to Seattle to get lost luggage.

“Going back to the airport is not an option. There are no flights for the next several days,” Spencer added.

He said a booking company called “SIXT rent-a-car” was the “only option.” He booked a car online.

Numerous flights at Las Vegas’s Harry Reid International Airport have been canceled or delayed as flights nationally were impacted by treacherous winter weather during a traditionally busy period for holiday air travel.

Other US airport passengers faced similar situations.

Driving Back to Vegas

Nevada resident Jay Healey was stuck in the San Diego airport, KSWB, a San Diego TV station, reported.

Since we can’t get any hotel rooms, we called and got a Budget car and we’re just going to drive back to Las Vegas,” Healey revealed.

Other customers at San Diego International Airport waited for more than an hour to see if they could find a rental car. Kimberly Hamilton opted for a rental car and planned to drive her family the 20 hours back to Dallas.

But rental cars were not easy to find. Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport provides an example.

Gail Northway and her family from Wisconsin’s Waukesha County were waiting for a rental with the goal of driving instead of flying to Florida, WITI, a Milwaukee TV station, reported. Hertz and Avis told would-be renters there would be no rental cars at the airport unless customers already made reservations, the report added.

The limited supply is leading many frustrated travelers to join with others to rent a car and share the driving and rental costs.

Anecdotes of such travel experiences are being seen in Florida and California, as well. For instance, after a flight from Florida to Cleveland was canceled, strangers became friends as they drove 17 hours through five states to Ohio, Bridget Schuster told WTSP, a Florida TV station.

Cancellations, Delays

As of 7 a.m. PT on Tuesday, there were 61 delayed flights at Harry Reid International Airport.

There were 222 canceled flights at the airport, too, according to data from FlightAware, a flight tracking site, which could lead to fewer visitors at Las Vegas casinos during the holiday week.

Nationally, the number of daily canceled and delayed flights continues to be in the thousands. By 7 a.m. PT on Tuesday, the number of canceled flights nationally had already reached 2,897, with that number likely to increase as the day continues.

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