Stranded travelers at KCI strain rental car agencies already short on supply | KCUR 89.3

Dan Smith

Travelers stranded at Kansas City International Airport want to drive their rental cars home and are beginning to realize that supply isn't keeping up with demand. from the beginning of the week Southwest Airlines canceled hundreds of flights Scheduled to arrive and depart from KCI. These cancellations have left many air travelers stranded at KCI terminals and turned to airport-based car rental agencies. Several agencies are now warning customers of reduced vehicle availability due to the effects of winter weather and widespread flight cancellations. Traveler Josiah Lim, whose flight home to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was canceled Tuesday morning by Southwest Airlines, was told by Enterprise that he would have to wait a few days until a car was available. "Yeah, we've been staying here forever," said Lim, who was renting a hotel room. "When I tried to get in (the car) yesterday, their system said nothing was available until Thursday." In a statement issued to KCUR by Hertz Corporation, the agency said it was experiencing record call volume and demand for booking one-way rentals across the country. Some customers reported on social media issues with the agency's website and phone service, as well as cancellations of existing car reservations due to lack of vehicles.

On Wednesday morning, KCI's car rental agency re-listed the few cars available and Lim was able to reserve one. “I just happened to check this morning,” Lim said. "Unbelievably, they had one available to me." Lim is now facing a drive of over 750 miles, but others who were able to get rentals on Wednesday said they plan to drive to San Diego or Philadelphia. "I have family here, so it worked out for me," Lim said. "But I don't have much of a choice now. I really need to come back."