Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > America - USA > Alaska
Reload this Page >

Renting a car for Seattle-Alaska trip

Renting a car for Seattle-Alaska trip

Reply

Old Oct 7, 07, 11:40 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: HEL
Programs: AY Silver, PC Platinum, IC Amb
Posts: 103
Renting a car for Seattle-Alaska trip

Howdy,

I'm considering flying to SFO (or SEA) and then driving to ANC, or the other way round. Is there a rental car company that would allow this? If yes, are there rental car companies with lower one-way fees? I've checked the websites of the bigger companies, but no one even offers this.

I was also considering doing it in pieces: SFO-SEA, YVR-Dawson Creek and then somehow to Anchorage, if that would make it possible or even cheaper. National had quite a good price for SFO-SEA leg, but the Canadian leg was pricey...

Thanks for all your suggestions!

Last edited by trsqr; Oct 8, 07 at 1:53 am
trsqr is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 8, 07, 7:55 am
  #2  
Moderator, OneWorld
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: SEA
Programs: RAA RIP; AA ExEXP
Posts: 10,110
The only ones that I have heard of are RV rental agencies who will sometimes allow RVs to be taken through Canada to the lower 48 at the end of the summer season, presumably so they can be utilized in sunnier climes over the winter. I assume it happens in reverse too before the beginning of the season in Alaska.

Otherwise I think "no" is the correct answer. Think of the one way drop fee.

Meant to add, off-season shipping rates for personal cars are high but not killer, so drive your own car up and ship it back on Tote.
Gardyloo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 8, 07, 9:36 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Girdwood
Programs: ASMVPG,HHG,SPGG
Posts: 301
Paging jackal
akdude is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 8, 07, 11:15 am
  #4  
Community Director
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Anywhere warm
Posts: 29,264
Is there a specific reason you want to drive? If not, you can always take the Alaska Ferry from Bellingham to Skagway. This allows you to see the beautiful scenery of the inland passage, which has no road system connecting towns, thu cannot be seen by car.

You'd still need to get to an area of Alaska where you could rent a car for your trip; I'm not sure if the train from Skagway takes you to a Canadian town where you could take a bus into Alaska.

There are also some trips that could be organized by taking a bus through Vancouver Island to the point where you take the BC ferry to Prince Rupert. There, you can book the Alaska Ferry to Skagway.

I realize that perhaps you have an entirely different trip in mind that can only be accomplished by driving.
SanDiego1K is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 8, 07, 11:38 am
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: HEL
Programs: AY Silver, PC Platinum, IC Amb
Posts: 103
Thank you all for your replies, I really appreciate them. At this point of time I haven't got anything too specific in my mind, and am just playing with the idea. There's actually no specific reason to drive, maybe it's just some kind of a "American roadtrip" image that I have stuck in my mind now.

I know there are rental companies that do this for Route 66, but understand that this a bit longer stretch and there's two international borders to cross, so maybe I just have to accept that rental car is probably out of the picture. I was able to find Vancouver-Whitehorse rental with an ok price, but then there would be still the Whitehorse-Anchorage leg to make, and I really would like to avoid flying this time.

So San Francisco-Seattle with a nice convertible, Seattle-Vancouver with a train, Vancouver-Whitehorse with a rental car again, and somehow to Anchorage then. Might still be a bit pricey.
trsqr is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 8, 07, 5:02 pm
  #6  
Moderator, Alaska Airlines & FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: SGF
Programs: AS, AA, UA, AGR (ex-75K, GLD, 1K, and S+), Choice Diamond, HZ PC, Costco Exec, NPS Passport
Posts: 22,879
Originally Posted by akdude View Post
Paging jackal
It's so nice to feel loved! Sorry for the delay in responding--I was in class...

AFAIK, no car rental companies offer this. The only two companies up here that are corporately owned are Hertz and Enterprise. Enterprise does not do one-ways out of the state. Hertz agents mostly keep to themselves (supposedly, they're not allowed to interact with people who work for other agencies, though of course they sort of do in the dead of winter when we all see three reservations a day) and so I'm not as familiar with their policies. They do ship cars around and between their Lower 48 and Alaska operations, so they may be amenable to it--perhaps you can work something out with the ANC station manager. Unfortunately, as a corporate location, it's almost impossible to actually get a hold of someone at the location itself--all three of the numbers I have on file for them always ring four times and then go to some random person's voicemail, even when there's someone sitting at their counter doing absolutely nothing.

All of the other agencies here are franchised, and there's a negative incentive for the franchise owner or GM to do a one-way into the state, since the car would then have to be shipped to a location in Seattle and that location would have to be paid to prep the car (complicating the fleet ordering process--this is assuming it would be done in April or May, when Alaskan operations are receiving their summer fleets, since there is no other time of year when it would even be possible) and then the revenue would have to be split between the renting location and the owning location. Then there's the matter of taking responsibility for any problems in the absolute middle of nowhere in Canada--if the car breaks down, whose fault is it (perhaps the SEA branch didn't prep the car correctly)? Who pays the towing bill if the manufacturer doesn't foot the bill?

You can ask everyone, but I'd be surprised if you get anything other than a "you've got to be kidding, right?" from everyone.

Your only hope to do this with a car is to pray for another natural disaster. The president of Avis (nationwide, at least) waived all one-way restrictions and drop fees when Hurricane Katrina hit. Word is that Avis Alaska received a rear-wheel-drive pick-up truck from Kentucky. It wasn't worth it to ship it back to Kentucky, and the Kentucky location couldn't get it to sell here (two-wheel-drive trucks sell here about as well as engine block heaters in Hawaii), so the Anchorage GM told the Kentucky location they'd just buy it and then shifted it down to their Ketchikan location (far enough south that snow is less of a factor). You can see what a hassle one-ways are to us up here.

I think Gardyloo is on the right track with the RV rentals. I have a friend who just left the state and got a great deal one-waying an RV down from here to Phoenix. I would assume that around April or May, these folks would appreciate finding people to drive them back up. If your travel plans jive with the tourist season here, that might be the way to go. (Go to http://www.acsyellowpages.com and search for RV rentals in Anchorage to find some people to call.)

On another note, there may be bus services from Whitehorse to Anchorage, but only in the summer tourist season. I know there are bus services to Dawson (I helped one of my customers plan it out), but I can't remember the agency. Call the Anchorage Visitor's and Convention Bureau (http://www.anchorage.net) and see if they have information on services like these.

If you're going to follow SanDiego1K's idea, the White Pass and Yukon tourist railway does NOT (AFAIK) go all the way to Whitehorse, and I doubt you can get bus service to Anchorage from anywhere else (who knows, though--they may go all the way to Skagway). There is a cross-Gulf of Alaska ferry that (IIRC) goes a couple times per month in the summer only from Skagway to Seward or Whittier. Search for their website (look for "Alaska Marine Highway System") to look at Summer 2008 schedules. This, of course, assumes that you're able to travel in the summer. Keep in mind that pretty much all of Alaska's transportation infrastructure is seasonal.

Good luck--it's an awesome drive if you can make it work. Make sure to hit what I think is the most beautiful spot on earth--Jasper and Banff National Parks (on the border between BC and Alberta).
jackal is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 8, 07, 5:44 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Girdwood
Programs: ASMVPG,HHG,SPGG
Posts: 301
jackal I just have to say it,you are awesome!!I have lived up here since'59,traveled a lot in state for work and pleasure but your knowledge of the great state is amazing.
I've also been in customer service industry and I think you are a shining example,of how helpful the majority of csi workers are here in Alaska.
NO I,m not buttering you up to hit on you
Just saying thanks for all your timely help.
akdude is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 8, 07, 7:46 pm
  #8  
Moderator, OneWorld
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: SEA
Programs: RAA RIP; AA ExEXP
Posts: 10,110
I am in a minority, I guess, in that I think the Alcan (old folks' name for it) is a long boring drive punctuated with occasional scenic bits, not the other way around.

Although it smacks of overeating and cheesy "excursions," I think one of the best ways to get to Alaska for leisure travelers is via a one-way cruise from Vancouver to Seward or Whittier. You get to sample some of the towns in Southeast, see things like glaciers or bays that the ferry doesn't get you to (nobody to pick up or drop off), and all in substantial comfort and, considering it's transport, lodging and board, at a very reasonable per-day price. If you don't want to join in on the limbo party or hit the midnight buffet, don't.

Then on arriving in Southcentral, get a car and head out to the good roadside scenery - up to Denali, or all around the Kenai, or over to Valdez and PW Sound... plenty of road trip vibe to be had there.

Then - and remember this is a website about flying - get off the road system and up in the air to see some of the (majority) of the state that can't be visited from a car. See the beasts and kill the fish, for sure, but don't overlook the people part of your visit - Alaska is a lot more than bears and mountains.

[/sermon]
Gardyloo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 9, 07, 12:18 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Girdwood
Programs: ASMVPG,HHG,SPGG
Posts: 301
Sorry Gardyloo but I must disagree with you.I love the Alcan(they call it something different now?)
We made our first trip up in 1959 and I've made at least 20 trips since.I think its very scenic.
I agree with you about cruising the inside passage,thats always what I recommend to friends along with the train between ANC and FAI.

By the way I love your RAA RIP,my first job out of high school was on Shemya so I have fond memories of RAA.
akdude is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 9, 07, 7:35 am
  #10  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: west of DFW airport
Programs: AA LT Gold 1.9 MM flying my way to LT PLAT
Posts: 11,063
I miss RAA as well. There I go showing my age.

As for driving to Alaska. Wish I could do so but waited too late and now it would be impossible for my husband to make the trip.

If you want to drive it.....do so and don't have regrets later!
oldpenny16 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 9, 07, 12:04 pm
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: HEL
Programs: AY Silver, PC Platinum, IC Amb
Posts: 103
Thank you all, you have been very helpful! Special thanks to jackal for a thorough reply. I still think driving would be the way I want to do it. I will contact the Anchorage visitors bureau and ask about the transportation. The car rental fees from San Francisco to Whitehorse wouldn't totally break my bank, so maybe continuing to Anchorage with a bus would be an option...
trsqr is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 9, 07, 12:21 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Washington D.C.
Programs: UA Gold MM , AS MVPG , MR LTPP, Hilton Dia
Posts: 470
One way to combine your activities would be to rent the car and drive to Prince Rupert where you could put it on the ferry. Take the ferry (and your car) to Skagway and then drive on to Whitehorse. Believe me, after three days of driving from Vancouver to Prince Rupert, you will be tired of the scenery and glad to rest on the ferry and enjoy the coast.

Another option after you get to Whitehorse is to get a bus from there to Skagway and then take the ferry all the way to Whittier. From Whittier you can take the train or bus to Anchorage or Fairbanks. I'm not sure of the seasonal schedule for this ferry run, it is already getting pretty late in the year.

Glenn
Major G is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 10, 07, 12:25 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PDX
Programs: AS MVPG, IHG Plat,Hertz Five Star, HH Silver
Posts: 786
One thing to note is that you could probably do some sort of loop trip, such as:

Seattle-Terrace-Whitehorse via Cassiar
Whitehorse-Fbx on the Alcan
Parks Highway to Anchorage
X-Gulf Ferry Whittier-Valdez-Cordova-Juneau-Skagway
Then take the Alcan to Dawson Creek (possibly looping into the NWT prior to Ft Nelson), where you can easily get to Jasper & Banff before returning to Seattle.

The above would probably take at least four weeks, but it would be a lot of fun. I think that the scenery is fantastic, with the possible exception of the area between Teslin and Watson Lake in the Yukon. The splendid isolation is tremendous.

Step 1 is to get a copy of the Milepost.
lawchild is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 10, 07, 12:47 pm
  #14  
Moderator, Alaska Airlines & FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: SGF
Programs: AS, AA, UA, AGR (ex-75K, GLD, 1K, and S+), Choice Diamond, HZ PC, Costco Exec, NPS Passport
Posts: 22,879
I've found some additional information and have begun the process of updating a page at Wikitravel with some of the information on car rentals and bus transfers into Alaska.

If those familiar with this information can help update the page, here it is:

http://wikitravel.org/en/Alaska#Get_in

The OP can take a peek there for some additional ideas.
jackal is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 11, 07, 5:32 pm
  #15  
Moderator, Alaska Airlines & FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: SGF
Programs: AS, AA, UA, AGR (ex-75K, GLD, 1K, and S+), Choice Diamond, HZ PC, Costco Exec, NPS Passport
Posts: 22,879
Updated information

I just made a few inquiries. Here are the results:
  • Enterprise: They buy all of their cars from dealers up here, so they don't have any cars to one-way up here. Phone number for further information: 907.248.5526.
  • Avis: Everything is shipped up, and it'd be too complicated to try to arrange a special case. They occasionally do one-ways south at the end of the season, though--try emailing them at [email protected] or calling them at 907.243.2377.
  • Dollar/Thrifty: Same as Avis--too complicated. Won't do. I know.
  • Budget: Unknown, but as a franchise, it will probably be the same answer. Phone number is 907.243.0150.
  • Alamo/National. Unknown, but as a franchise, probably the same answer as Budget. Phone is 907.243.3406 (if they answer).
  • Payless: may not even be in operation in the near future...
  • Hertz: Your best bet. As a corporate-owned location, they will receive one-ways from anywhere else. That said, they don't do any specials for needing vehicles brought up (they just have them shipped, and as a corporation, they have their inflexible policies), but as long as another city is willing to send it here, they will receive it--it's up to that city's city manager. So start calling Hertz of Seattle, Portland, Spokane, Orlando--anywhere you can think of--and ask them if they will let you take one of their cars up here. For the heck of it, though, the published number for Hertz here is 907.243.3308 (if they answer). Or try the one downtown at 907.562.4595.

If you're looking for springtime, the RV deal mentioned earlier may be your best bet.
jackal is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread