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Pay & Personnel News Updates from our Branches

Rental Car Shortage Felt by Federal Travelers

By Defense Travel Dispatch

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Source: Defense Travel Dispatch, Summer 2021

Earlier this summer, the Rental Car Subcommittee of the National Defense Transportation (NDTA)’s Passenger Travel Advisory Council notified the Defense Travel Management Office that rental car industry efforts to restore their fleets to pre-pandemic levels have been hindered by the impact of a microchip shortage that has affected automakers’ ability to meet current car production demand. This reality was echoed by industry partners that participate in the U.S. Rental Car program, which offers reduced rates and special benefits for rental cars to federal government employees and service members traveling on official business.

In response to this rental car supply shortage, the Defense Travel Management Office granted the rental car industry a temporary waiver to U.S. Government Rental Car Program policy that requires participating vendors to offer vehicles that are no more than 2 years old and have less than 20,000 miles. Under the waiver, vendors may offer vehicles that are up to 4 years old and have up to 60,000 miles. This will allow the rental car industry to extend the life cycle of vehicles currently in industry fleets. Rental Car partners have pledged to closely monitor the quality and overall maintenance of vehicle with extended life cycles to ensure continued customer satisfaction, safety, and security.

Even though rental car companies have extended life cycle of cars, it doesn’t mean that there still isn’t a shortage of available rentals as leisure travel has surged over the summer months. We strongly recommend travelers take the following measures when considering a rental car for official travel:

  • Book travel as early as possible. Early booking means it is more likely you will have rental car availability and widest selection (if you require and are approved for something other than economy class). Don’t wait until the week before you expect to travel or expect to book a vehicle on the spot – there just isn’t that much inventory.
  • Sign up for the U.S. Government Frequent Renter Program to by-pass the rental counter. A shortage of cars coupled with increased travel means that lines at rental car counters are often long. Do yourself a favor and sign up for the programs to skip that line and go right to your car. To register, go to https://www.defensetravel.dod. mil/site/rentalCarFRP.cfm