Tag Archives: Car Rental

Car rentals for Bozeman airport,Yellowstone National Park, and Big Sky

BZN Off-Airport Car Rental Update

Buyer Beware, Unauthorized Cheap Car Rentals at Bozeman Airport

Lately we been seeing a number of unauthorized off-airport car rental agencies showing up at the Bozeman Airport. Buyer beware, although these companies may be cheap alternative car rental to the more expensive authorized on-airport (Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, Thrifty, Alamo) and authorized off-airport car rental agencies (Ressler Rent-A-Car, Journey Rent-A-Car, Phasmid Rentals) they are not legally operating on airport property. The airport is private property, and only authorized vendors are allowed to operate on-site. What this means to the consumer: your rental car may not be there when you arrive, even though the company you rented from says it will- as it may get towed or booted by airport security, or stolen (the keys are left in the vehicle).

Further, it has been brought to our attention that one of these companies is not legally renting cars- via not paying taxes, having legal insurance, or paying airport concession fees.
You can view the official Bozeman off-airport car rental agencies here, http://www.bozemanairport.com/.

Companies that have not registered with the Bozeman Airport:

Yellowstone Car Rentals, Via Alpine Property Management.

Billion Nissan Rental Cars.

Yellowstone Country Motors.

UBAG cannot judge the quality of these rental car agencies, or what exactly they offer. However, we do know that ‘Cheap’ is not always the best option when it comes to safety. If you do choose to use one of these unauthorized car rental agencies in Bozeman, please for your own good make sure the cars are legally insured as rental cars and the company is obeying all local, airport, and state tax rules.

Yellowstone Car Rentals, illegally operating at Bozeman Airport

 

 

7-Tips for Saving on Rental Cars

This article is from The New York Times. Full article archive.

The U.S. Issue | Practical Traveler

7 Tips for Saving on Rental Cars

Andy Rash
By MICHELLE HIGGINS
Published: May 16, 2012

HITTING the road this summer? Better get booking.

Readers’ Comments

Share your thoughts.

As the busy summer car-rental season begins, prices are expected to climb. “In early June through the end of August, these rates will spike,” said Neil Abrams, president of Abrams Consulting Group, which tracks the car rental industry. Last July, for example, the average rate for a weekly airport rental of a compact car booked seven days ahead was $369.62, or 56 percent more than the $236.73 charged in March, according to the Abrams Travel Data Index. Here are some tips to keep costs down.

Let go of name brands. Look beyond Avis, Hertz and other big national chains to independent agencies like Payless and Fox Rent a Car. Because of lower operating costs, their cars, which can be found at Web sites like CarRentals.com and CarRentalExpress.com, typically cost 15 to 30 percent less than rentals from mainstream agencies. Another company with an unfamiliar name, at least to most Americans, is the German agency Sixt, which has begun opening branches in the southeastern United States, including in Atlanta, Miami and Orlando, Fla. To boost brand recognition, the company, whose fleet includes BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes and Volkswagens, is offering deep discounts. For example, a Mercedes C-class cost $38.81 a day in late May at Sixt’s Orlando airport location, according to a recent search. By comparison, the lowest rate offered by Hertz for the same dates was $50.57 a day for a Kia Rio or similar economy car.

Dig for virtual discounts. Search for discounts and coupons on sites like Promotionalcodes.com and CouponWinner.com, or type in the name of a rental company and “coupon code” into Google to see what turns up. Rental car companies offer discount codes to members of frequent flier programs, and other organizations they partner with, including AAA, Costco and BJ’s, so check those sites if you’re a member. But don’t stop there. Most major car rental companies allow you to combine discount codes with a coupon code. For example, a full-size car from Hertz over Memorial Day weekend at Washington Dulles airport was $255.71 in a recent search. Plugging in the discount code 62455 for United Airlines frequent fliers and Hertz’s promotional coupon code, 168210, brought the price down to $160.02.

Track rates through Autoslash.com. This site, which continually checks for lower rates and coupons until your trip date, can be used in one of two ways: You can track the price of a rental booked elsewhere, or you can book directly through Autoslash, which currently works with Payless, Sixt, Fox and E-Z Rent-A-Car, and the site will apply any discounts it finds.

The drawback with the second option is limited inventory. Major companies don’t like the idea that Autoslash capitalizes on the fact that consumers can usually change or cancel car reservations at any time without penalty. Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, as well as Hertz and Advantage, recently pulled its inventory from the site, as my colleague Ron Lieber recently reported. Enterprise, which owns National and Alamo, won’t let AutoSlash list its cars either.

Avoid the airport. Off-airport locations are typically cheaper than airport locations, which tend to tack on fees that can raise the price by 30 percent or more. For example, a compact rental from Hertz at Boston Logan International Airport over the Fourth of July weekend was recently listed at $50.49 a day, or $219 a week with taxes at Carrentals.com, a unit of Hotwire. By taking the subway to the Arlington stop and walking a couple of blocks to the local Hertz lot, a traveler could cut costs to $39.98 a day, or $146.65 with taxes for the week.

Reserve the car for longer than you need it. This may sound counterintuitive, but tacking an extra day on to that weekly rental or even adding a couple of hours to extend it over a weekend — with no intention of returning the car that late — can actually lower your rate. The strategy takes advantage of lower prices aimed at leisure travelers who are more likely to travel on weekends, said Marty Paz, a telecommunications manager from Las Vegas who has become something of a car rental pricing sleuth since he began avidly renting cars to pad his frequent flier account. (Last year alone he rented more than 100 vehicles, accumulating a quarter-million miles.)

Mr. Paz said you are essentially tricking the system into thinking you’re booking a two-day weekend rental, which typically has a lower base rate, with the goal of returning the car early. For example, the rate for a midsize car rental from Alamo at the Las Vegas International Airport, from noon on Thursday, June 7, to noon on Friday was recently listed on Alamo’s Web site for $35.95 (or a base rate of $27.27 plus $11.41 in taxes and fees). But extending the return time to 2 p.m. — two hours after the weekend rates “officially” kick in — drops the base rate to $15.18 a day. Though the overall estimated cost shows an additional $10.12 extra in hourly charges, you can still return the car at noon and get the lower rate, said Mr. Paz, who added, “Oops, you got there early.”

Negotiate. Even after you’ve booked the best possible rate, it can be worth swinging by the rental counter to see if you can finagle your way into a better car. You don’t ask, you don’t get,” said Mr. Abrams, the rental car consultant. Success with this strategy can depend on everything from the type and number of cars on the lot to the mood of the clerk, he added. But some companies are happy to put you in a bigger, or less popular, vehicle for the cost of a compact — if it’s in their interest.

“I frequently need minivans for the volunteer activities I do with teens,” said Marty Paz, the car-rental rate hacker, who has noticed by perusing the parking lot that there is often a glut of minivans at one location he frequently rents from on the weekend. “Often times I’ve reserved an economy car for a Friday and just offered graciously: ‘If there’s a van, I’ll take that. I don’t mind,’ and for the price of the economy car I get the minivan.” (A larger vehicle, of course, will require more fuel.)

Prepay. Taking a page from hotels, rental car companies are offering discounts of up to 20 percent to travelers willing to prepay. In a recent search for weekly rentals at Boston Logan International Airport in mid June, for example, Hertz was offering economy cars for $173 a week at the “pay now” rate. The “pay later” rate was about $30 more. The trade off for locking in a low-rate? Cancellation penalties ranging from $10 with Budget to $50 if canceling within 24 hours with Hertz. And don’t forget about Priceline.com and Hotwire.com, which offer deep discounts to travelers willing to be locked into a preset price before finding out the rental car company.

Reviews of Car Rental Agencies Servicing Bozeman Airport

What is the best car rental agency in Bozeman, reviews

We decided to do a little research on publicly posted reviews of the car rental agencies in Bozeman. Most of what we can find is via Yelp.com and Google Places/ Local. Below you will find copied text directly from Yelp and Google (and wherever else available) as well as screen shots and links. Please note these were all captured 2/13/13, and of course subject to change. Use as you see fit. We will soon do another post comparing the pricing of all rental car agencies in Bozeman.

The Results:

Car rental agency reviews Bozeman
What is BZN’s best car rental agency?

If one is to judge reviews posted on the internet, here are the results.
1) Phasmid Rentals. TOTAL: 63-points

  • Yelp 12 reviews, 5 stars. 1-review, 4-stars. Google, Excellent x 3.

2) Journey Rent-a-Car. TOTAL: 12-points

  • Yelp 0 reviews. Google, Excellent x 3.

2) Ressler Rentals. TOTAL: 8-points

  • Yelp 0 reviews. Google, Excellent x 2.

4) Budget Rent-A-Car. TOTAL 5-points

  • Yelp 1 review, 2-stars. Google, Good x 1.

5) Hertz Rent a Car. TOTAL 3-points

  • Yelp 7 reviews, 4-stars x 1, 2-stars x 1, 1-star x 5. Google, Excellent x 1.

6) Enterprise. TOTAL 3-points

  • Yelp 0 reviews. Google, Poor to Fair x 1, Excellent x 1.

3) National Car Rental. TOTAL 2-points

  • Yelp 2 reviews, 3-stars. Google, Poor to Fair x 2.

9) Dollar Rent A Car.  TOTAL 0-points

  • No data.

8) Avis Rent A Car. TOTAL -2 points

  • Yelp 1 review, 1-star. Google, Poor to Fair x 1.

7) Thrifty Car rental. TOTAL -4 points

  • Yelp 2 reviews, 1-star. Google, Poor to Fair x 2.

How we assign total points:
5-star review or Excellent from Google = 4 points

4-star review or Good from Google = 3-points

3-star review or OK from Google = 2-points

2-star review = 1-point

1-star rating or Fair to Poor rating Google = -1-point

Breakdown of Bozeman Car Rental Agency Reviews

BUDGET Rent-A-Car, Bozeman Airport

Budget Rent A Car Review Bozeman
Budget Rent A Car reviews Bozeman Airport

Budget Rent-A-Car”I get annoyed when you get to the counter of a rental car place only to find out that they don’t have the type of car you reserved and payed for. I had paid for a full size car only to be greeted with a Chevy Cruz. Being on vacation and trying to go with the flow- I gave it a shot- even though I was pretty sure it was a compact car. It was, so I went back in to the counter.  Matt at the desk was helpful, but still tried to tell me that was all that was available, and luckily a Chevy Impala had just gotten cleaned– a full size car was now mine for the week (thanks to Matt) just like I had reserved.  I would not call the car clean, but after I wiped down the inside we were good to go.” Yelp reviews Budget, Bozeman

Here is the lone posted Google review of Budget Rent A Car Bozeman:

Overall Good
“We had a confirmation for a Grand Cherokee 4WD or similar. We got a Hyundai Santa Fe which is a boring car in all repects (and sold new at a lower price than the Grand Cherokee). Budget argued that both cars were in the same category and that they had no alternative to offer. We were extremely disappointed, especially after having rented a Grand Cherokee from Budget in Toronto the day before. We’ll think twice before renting from Budget again.”
Budget
850 Gallatin Field Rd
Belgrade, MT 59714
(406) 388-4091

HERTZ rental cars, reviews Bozeman Airport

Hertz is by far the biggest rental car agency at the Bozeman Airport. At one stage (not sure if it is true anymore), Bozeman was Hertz’s most profitable franchise in the entire Northwest. Anyway, here are the Yelp reviews of Hertz Bozeman:

Hertz Bozeman Airport Reviews Hertz-Bozeman-Reviews2

There are some very shocking reviews/ statements of the Bozeman Airport Hertz franchise. Overall of 7-reviews gained a 2-star average. Here is an excerpt from one: “I will never rent from this Hertz location again.  My friends and I rented a car from here.  We had a 7:00am flight out of the airport, and so we arrived at the airport at ~5:45am and left the car in the designated off hours rental car drop off area.  The desk wasn’t open (which it should have been at that time as the security line was already ~30 minutes long for a very normal time for a morning flight – 7am…).  When we arrived home, we received a call saying that we left the car with thousands of dollars of damage, which is absolutely false.  Another car in the parking lot must have hit us or something.

The parking lot either has no security cameras (which can’t be the case…it’s an airport where security is critical!), or Hertz is just too lazy to pull the tapes, so we are helpless to make a case.  Completely ridiculous.  Very poor management.  No way I ever rent from these guys again.”

There are numerous reviews listed on Yelp of Hertz BZN charging for damage that the renters did not do to the vehicle as well as being overcharged at the rental counter.

There is one review posted via Google: A Google User reviewed 11 months ago

“Overall Excellent
Very good customer service! Rented cars here two separate times during a vacation. Both reservations were for compact cars. I received a Subaru the first time, and the second, a brand new Camaro and didn’t have to pay a penny more! Fun and unexpected way to spend my last two days in Bozeman. Only downside is the limited mileage policy. Very nice service representatives.”
Hertz
850 Gallatin Field Rd, Ste 8
Belgrade, MT 59714
(406) 388-6939

NATIONAL Car Rental, Bozeman Airport

National is one of the smaller franchises at the airport. Overall Yelp rating of National Car Rental Bozeman 3-stars on 2-reviews. National Car Rental Bozeman ReviewsTheir Google reviews, overall ‘Poor to Fair’:

Quality Poor to fair
This company shows no loyalties towards its long time returning customers. Everytime I rent from them they come up with some bogus charge days after I return the car. I would advise anybody looking to rent a car to go elsewhere.

Was just notified 2 days after I returned my rental car that I am being charged for a rock chip in the window…this will be the last time I or or company ever rent with National/Alamo

I’ve heard from multiple sources that these guys will look to nickel and dime you every way they can. I would advise you to take your business elsewhere!!
Quality Poor to fair
Shady business practices. Charged me for something several days after I returned my car. “We noticed it a few days later.” Thank you for being the worst place to rent from!”
Contact:
National Car Rental
850 Gallatin Field Rd
Belgrade, MT 59714
(406) 388-6694

THRIFTY car rental, Bozeman Airport

Thrifty at the Bozeman Airport was certainly once thought to be a very strong franchise. We found 2-reviews on Yelp for Thrifty Car Rentals Bozeman.Thrity Car Rental Reviews, Bozeman One of these in particular, is pretty rough:

Don’t do it. I like the poeple who run the joint but Thrifty Rent A Car are unethical and ruthless.
I rented a car and got a flat tire driving on the highway. No off road, no dougnuts in the driveway.  When I returned the car the staff said no problem and had me fill out an incident report.
I’ve since received a bill for a new tire and “administrative fees”!

What!!!!!!!!!  Your tire blows out and I have to pay for it?  Why am I responsible for normal wear and tear on your vehicle?  Even if I do have to pay for the tire what about the 20,000 miles it had on it?  Why do I have the privilege of buying a new tire and paying you an admin fee on top of that?
Would my family have to pay for my funeral AND the tire if I went off the road from the blowout? Can they charge you an admin fee from the funeral home?

I’ve since checked to see if I’m responsible for this on the web and, to be fair, the results are mixed.  However the overwhelming number of complaints on http://www.consumeraffai…  from rental companies are about Thrifty.

Local owner dude you are probably O.K. but find another company franchise because Thrifty are scumbags.”

Google Reviews, Thrifty BZN:

“Overall Poor to fair
I have never taken the time to right a review before, but given the negative experience I felt compelled. I travel to Bozeman often on business and have found it convenient to pick up a rental at the airport. I have used Thrifty because my company has a great rate with them. I called today to extend my rental two days and was told “no way…I need that car back at 4pm”. When I asked why the manager could not extend she said “…its Labor Day weekend we are over booked and that rate is way too low”. I’m not objecting to Thrifty making money – but don’t treat a customer poorly b/c you didn’t manage your reservations properly. How about suggesting other rental car companies that might have availability? Her rude behavior has insured that I won’t ever use Thrifty again (in Bozeman and elsewhere) and I spend 70-80% of my time on the road.”
Thrifty
850 Gallatin Field Rd
Belgrade, MT 59714
(406) 388-3484

AVIS Rental Cars, Bozeman Airport

Avis is the second largest franchise at the Bozeman Airport next to Hertz, even though still roughly half the size. Overall one star from Yelp and Poor to Fair from Google. They only have one review listed on Yelp for Avis Bozeman, Airport.Avis Reviews, Bozeman Airport Granted, not a good review: “Avoid at all costs.  The most uncooperative staff I have ever dealt with.” However, being that they are the second biggest at BZN and only have 1-review is maybe a good sign? Looking at the lone posted Google Review, one may think differently.

“AVIS Rental Car in Bozeman Montana Airport, is seriously the worst rental experience in my life. I had a reservation that was made through my insurance company for a Premium Car, when I arrived to get the car I got a Mid Size car, which I would classify as a compact car. A Chevy Cruze. When I called two days before the reservation to find out what type of car I was getting I was told a Lincoln Town Car or Cadillac. This was a far cry from one of those. I have 3 children I need to haul around town, plus two huge band instruments including a Tuba. Monday was fun taking the kids to school. I went to return the car two days early stating that I had to rent something else because it was not big enough I didn’t get a I am sorry or hello or anything. I got a lady in the office making faces at me and the young guy at the counter not saying a word. Just typing something into the computer and then giving me my paper work. I then went next door to the Enterprise counter and rented a bigger vehicle. From the very beginning I never got a hello how are you, how is your day, I got nothing. To be treated rudely and then to be placed in an unwanted car was just unexceptable.”

PHASMID RENTALS, Bozeman Off-Airport

Phasmid Rentals is an off-airport rental car agency located about a mile east of the Bozeman Airport. They are an independent rental car agency in business since 2010. Phasmid rents Chevrolet Suburbans and Subaru Outbacks only. Both new vehicles and used vehicles.  Phasmid Rentals is the only Yelp listed review for Bozeman that is positive. Two Yelp reviews are listed, both 5-stars. Additionally, we noticed on their Yelp review page that they had numerous ‘filtered reviews‘.  Phasmid Rentals Reviews BozemanUpon entering the Captcha code we found 11 additional reviews for Phasmid Rentals. 10 were 5-star reviews, 1 was a 4-star review. Reviews for Phasmid Rentals Phasmid-Reviews-2

Here is one Yelp review:” This is an excellent company.  They will not only rent you a clean, new, vehicle (I had an Outback which was like new) but also any gear you need.   Fishing rods, coolers, tents, bear spray and prob anything else you need.
Nice personal touch as you will be picked up at baggage claim and don’t have to deal with an anonymous corporation.   The owner, Will, is also an excellent source of info for your trip/vacation.
All at competitive prices.  I will use again.”

Looking at Google reviews, there seems to be the same positive thoughts for this rental car company.

“I really want to help see this business grow, because Bozeman Rental Cars/ Phasmid is hands down the best rental car agency I have ever used. I rent from them pretty regularly for business and am always pleased with the Subaru Outback they give me, the fact they know my name and have a super easy contract, there is no waiting in line, no going through the airport hassle, etc. This is the way renting a car should be!”

“Way better than any franchise experience, and a great locally owned company.”

Phasmid Rentals
32 Dollar Dr
Belgrade, MT 59714
(406) 922-0179

RESSLER RENTALS, Bozeman Off-Airport

Ressler Rentals is a Toyota Rent-a-Car franchise based about 12-miles south of the Bozeman Airport. They offer all new models of Toyota vehicles to rent, with airport delivery service. Although they do not have any Yelp reviews, they do have numerous positive reviews on Google, both with an Excellent overall rating:

“Ressler is such a great place to rent cars in Bozeman! I rent regularly for business and the service is always excellent! The cars are also in great shape and price is a good value, especially compared to the options at the airport!”

“Tanya was great made sure my rental was ready to go for my vacation and that i could easily drop it off when i was heading out of time…”

Ressler Toyota Rent a Car
8340 Huffine Ln
Bozeman, MT 59718
(406) 585-2010

JOURNEY RENT-A-CAR, Bozeman Off-Airport

Journey Rent-a-Car is the newest off-airport rental car agency in Bozeman. They are located roughly 10-miles south of Bozeman Airport at the Carriage House car wash. Journey rents used vans, cars (example Chevy Malibu), and Suburbans. They offer airport shuttle service. Although no Yelp reviews have been made (no Yelp listing was even found for their business), they have very positive Google reviews as well.

“Excellent experience. The best value for a large SUV and the reservation process was seamless. They were at the airport when we arrived and brought us back at our convenience. They had the paperwork ready when we got to their so I just signed and was on my way. GREAT JOB!! Will defeinitely use them again on our next visit.”

“Journey Rentacar was great. Incredibly accommodating to my schedule for both the pick up and the drop off. Very helpful in adding a ski pod to the top of the car at the last second. Very well priced. Would definitely recommend to anyone i know needing a car in the area. Thank you again”

“Journey Rentacar was outstanding to work with! Josh was super helpful to our hunting crew and we got the best rates around on a Ford 12 person Van. Thanks Journey!”

Journey, 30 Homestake Dr. Bozeman, Mt 59718‎(406) 551-2277

ENTERPRISE, Bozeman Airport and Off-Airport

Enterprise has a location at the Bozeman Airport and also an off-airport location downtown. Recently, Expedia and other search engines are positing ‘Shuttle to location’ via rental car searches for BZN. Their off-airport location is just west of downtown Bozeman on Main Street, about 14-miles from BZN. Enterprise does not have any Yelp reviews. However, seemingly like the other franchise rental car agencies in Bozeman, has negative Google reviews, although they do also have one positive review. Enterprise Airport does not have Yelp or Google reviews.

“Watch out for this company!!! We live in Bozeman, Mt. After renting a vehicle recently at the Main Street location, we were told that we couldn’t have “unlimited miles” and would only be allowed 200 miles a day with 25 cents for each mile over, because of a new law in montana, we were also told that none of the companies in Montana were offering unlimited mileage. We trusted the agent but after checking with the other car rental companies in the area we found out that the Enterprise agent was lying to us. All of the other car rental companies offered free unlimited miles and told us there is no such law. We will never rent from Enterpise again. Please be careful if you decide to do business with these people.”

“I needed a rental for several days while my California car was being repaired here in Bozeman after it broke down while touring Yellowstone. After having the car towed to Bozeman, I rented a Bozeman Enterprise car on Sat., available only for two days. It had to be returned 8 AM on Mon, which I did. I was promised at the time, (and on the very first day by female Rep.) a second car would be available for me today, Tues. I called this morning (Tues) for a pickup at my near-by hotel but was told by the male Rep there was no record of my reservation and that no car would be available for me until Wed afternoon at best. Not only did they screw this up, but to add insult to injury, the Rep didn’t even offer an apology for the inconvenience. I even had to press him to put my name down for the very next available car if one was returned today. In contrast, everyone else I’ve had to deal with since my car’s breakdown in Yellowstone has been friendly, helpful, efficient and considerate of my circumstances.”

“I rent A LOT of rental cars,(travel for my job)Therefor I have used just about every company out there. Enterprise is The BEST by far. They have great service and honest people who will take the time to look for what is best for THEIR customers. I ALWAYS refer my friends and family to rent from the Main street office in Bozeman MT. So, if your coming for a visit our beautiful state, or just need a car for a day..Enterprise Rental car’s are the one to call. A Loyal Customer A.N. Flores P.S the airport Location Also has great service too.”

Enterprise Airport
850 Gallatin Field Rd #7
Bozeman, MT
406-388-7420

Enterprise Rent-A-Car
NONAIRPORT BOZEMAN
1238 W MAIN ST
BOZEMAN, MT 59715-3254
Tel.: (406) 586-8010
 

ALAMO car rental, Bozeman Airport

There are no Yelp reviews for Alamo’s Bozeman Airport location. Their are two Google reviews posted for Alamo, both with a Poor to Fair rating. “Was just notified 2 days after I returned my rental car that I am being charged for a rock chip in the window…this will be the last time I or or company ever rent with National/Alamo”

“Quality Poor to fair”

Alamo
5 Gallatin Field Rd
Belgrade, MT 59714
406-388-4457

DOLLAR car rental, Bozeman Airport

We are pretty they exist as they have paid their concession fees to the Bozeman Airport, however, we cannot find any reviews on Yelp or Google for the Bozeman Airport Location. They are the smallest on-airport rental car agency at BZN, posting only a 2.2% market share. Perhaps with the reviews of other on-airport rental car agencies, no news is good news.

Dollar Car Rental
850 Gallatin Field Road,
Belgrade, Mt
(406) 388-1323

 

Cheap rental cars Bozeman

Cheap rental cars Bozeman?

Those that are not in the know, generally opt for the smallest, least expensive rental car they can find while visiting Bozeman, MT. Those of us who live here, would never recommend anyone to rent a motorized roller-skate and this is why: a head-on collision with an elk. If you do get in an accident in a rental car here in Montana, chances are it will be with an animal- and we have BIG animals. A bull elk, like the one that caused this damage weighs about 700 pounds. Can you imagine what would have happened if these people had rented a compact car to save a few dollars?

Cheaper car rentals are not always better here in Montana!

Why you do not want to rent an economy/ compact car in Montana
Why you do not want to rent an economy/ compact car in Montana

Departing BZN

BZN Departures terminal
Lines for certain departures can be long, but in general nothing like a major urban airport.

Bozeman Airport departures- typically painless

We love the Bozeman Airport and give much respect to the way it is operated. Typically, we recommend guests to show up at the airport 1-hour prior to their departure of their domestic flight. This being said, we have heard some horror stories that will be mentioned later.

If you will be arriving via airport shuttle or off-airport rental car agency, you will be dropped off right outside of departures terminal. Typically, if you are in a private shuttle or with one of the off-airport rental car agencies, they will even help you with your bags right up to your airline counter.

If you have rented a car from an on-airport rental car company, we recommend dropping your family and luggage off at the departures terminal then doing a ‘lap’ around the airport back to the rental car returns parking lot. Departures and the rental car returns area are about a half-mile walk. Not a big deal in the summer, but when it is -4 degrees in winter and you have screaming kids, this is an unpleasant experience.

If you are  a local and need to park a vehicle at the airport there are two options. Bozeman airport offers on-site parking. ‘Premium’ is $10 per day, ‘Economy’ is $7 per day. There is a new company who is offering discounted off-airport parking, Bozeman Park and Shine. Listed prices are $4/ per day $100/ month. They also offer very reasonable car cleaning services.

If you are a second home owner and looking to store a vehicle long-term you can: purchase a car condo on airport for $25k+, or lease a garage at Airport Valet and Storage.

Once you have dealt with your rental car or shuttle service, head to your respective counter for check-in/ baggage drop. Typically our counter attendants for all airlines are extremely pleasant, real people. Rarely do we witness the superiority complex and attitude found in larger airports. Then again, even our DMV in Bozeman is hosted by nice people. Treat them with respect and you will be treated the same.

Once you drop off your bags, or if you have pre-printed your boarding pass, head upstairs to proceed through security. This is where things will likely slow down. TSA for Bozeman Airport can be painfully slow and deliberate. Fortunately, the volume of people they process isn’t large so you can still get through in a timely manner, just be forewarned the will want to bomb-scan your bag, frisk each individual, make you take your shoes off, etc. TSA is the only downfall of the airport, and to our latest knowledge BZN has been looking to outsource this role.

Once you are through security the worst is over. There is a small cafe inside departures where you can get an overpriced coffee and stale bagel. Fortunately, we rarely have delays on departing flights so most likely you will soon be on your way back home.

Arriving at BZN

BZN Airport Arrivals
Bronze geese adorn the Bozeman Airport arrivals area

Welcome to Montana

We find that many travelers arriving and departing Bozeman Airport (BZN) are not adjusted/ used to using such a small and personable airport. Arrival to BZN is very straight forward; follow the signs and head towards baggage claim and ‘Arrivals’.  We do not have separate terminals/ buildings- just one big one. Enjoy the bronze goose sculptures, the ‘Big Bear’. and the cast tyrannosaurus Rex skull. Additionally, the Yellowstone Association, a non-profit conservation group has an excellent information area/ kiosk. The majority of the workers in the store are passionate volunteers and are more than happy to provide as much information as possible about the park. Purchasing a membership not only goes to help preserving Yellowstone, but also offers significant savings on Park Services.

Although luggage is typically released quickly, sometimes it takes a LONG time. Check out some of the free rack cards of mostly non-pertinent information. These are paid for spaces, and just because a provider has a card there does not mean they are the best. Be wary and do a little review research before booking anything- especially some of the fly fishing guides. The abundant Discovery Maps are a great resource.

Be wary of the cafe and gift shop at arrivals. These stores are horrendously overpriced in order to pay the airports concession fee. Think $9 for a piece of reheated frozen pizza. You are better off waiting a couple of minutes or using the water fountain (underneath escalators along with restrooms).

If you are renting a car from an on-airport provider (Hertz, Enterprise, Thrifty, etc) it is recommended that one person waits for the bags while another person goes and collects the rental car as the rental car kiosk lines can often be long as well. The airport car rental agency’s kiosks are at the far western side of the building. With your back facing the baggage carousels, turn left and keep walking till you run out of building. Once your rental car is collected  you can pull forward, hopefully finding a parking spot, while your family takes the luggage outside to arrivals. Or, you can walk with the family to the rental car parking lot. Just be warned, it is far.

If you have opted for a) a shuttle/ taxi or b) an off-airport rental car agency they will meet you at the base of the escalators as you head towards baggage claim with placard. Whether it is your shuttle to Big Sky, taxi to Bozeman, or rental car- these off-airport concessionaires have dedicated parking lanes outside of the arrivals terminal. If your concessionaire is not parked in the Karst Stage, shuttle lane, or taxi lane be wary as they are probably not an authorized airport sanctioned company. Concessionaires to Bozeman Airport are all required to charge their customers additional airport fees. Shuttles and taxis range from $2.00 per person and car rentals 10% additional airport fee.

If you are able to find transport to one of the off-airport rental car agencies, like Phasmid or TRAC, you will be able to save the 10% concession fee. Very beneficial if you are renting a vehicle for an extended period of time. Hint: both of these companies offer free pick-up service at hotels and around the greater Bozeman area, and many of the hotels offer free shuttle service.

There are no regular buses between the airport and Bozeman. There is a scheduled service via Karst Stage to Big Sky, West Yellowstone, and Mammoth Hot Springs. As mentioned in BZN ground transportation article, there is not a taxi stand at BZN- so all of your travel arrangements departing the airport need to be made in advance.

Navigating BZN Rental Car Options

Dec-22---Jan-3

First and foremost, book in advance. Car rentals at Bozeman Airport can be extremely expensive during peak times. The above search is for a Premium SUV December 22 – January 3, 2012. As you can see, SUV rentals command an extremely high price in Bozeman. At this time, economy car rentals were $100/ day as well. The moral of the story- book in advance. Options 2; think outside of the Big Box. We checked with the off-airport rental car companies, and although they were almost completely booked out, Toyota Rent-A-Car had a 2012 Sequoia for $120/ day and Phasmid Rentals had a 2012 Chevrolet Suburban z71 for $150/ day. Nobody likes wasting money on a rental car, so think in advance and if you forget to do that- think outside of the Big Box.

Bozeman Airport- Montana and Yellowstone’s Gateway

There are numerous options for visitors to begin their southwest Montana adventures, yet Bozeman Airport (Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport at Gallatin Field, BZN) continually stands as the most convenient and welcoming venue for visitors to arrive. BZN’s continually expanding direct flight destinations and expanding flight schedule are one of the fastest growing in the entirety of the US. Combined with a truly stunning facility built in 2012 and Montana hospitality, BZN is the perfect gateway for your Montana and Yellowstone vacation.

This unofficial site offers resources and information for visitors to the Bozeman area and the Bozeman airport. We simply hope that all visitors to Montana and Bozeman make the most out of their time, come back and visit us again, and tell their friends!