Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

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Convenience Trumps Frequent-Travel Loyalty

Although I did scope out the walking path between the Emeryville Amtrak station and the Hilton Garden Inn, we probably won't need to walk after all, because I'm going to need to rent a car when we arrive that day on the Coast Starlight from Salem, Oregon. That's because I'm going to work that day, the timing being about right so I don't need to take another vacation day for that particular train trip. (Train leaves SLM about 3:30 PM and arrives EMY around 8 AM the next morning.) My own van will be in Oregon at the time because I'm driving up the previous weekend and leaving the van there, and getting from Emeryville to the San Mateo Campus Drive area by public transit is so complicated and time-consuming that it's not worth attempting.

Amtrak is running a promotion with their travel partners, including Hertz, for bonus frequent-travel points this summer. I've booked with Hertz Local Edition from an Amtrak station before, out of Sacramento, where they came and picked us up to take us to the HLE station a mile or so away. In Emeryville's case, while the Hertz web site lists Emeryville Amtrak as a valid site, it actually says in footnotes that this location is served from the Courtyard by Marriott and cab fare of up to $10 to/from the Amtrak station will be reimbursed.

If the Courtyard was close enough to the train station, I'd be more inclined to just walk there, rent the car, drive to the Hilton, check in (if they'll let us do so that early; if not, store the bags), and head to work. Lisa has no problem whether the room is available or not, as she says she can amuse herself until a room is available if necessary.

After dealing with the tickets, and on my walking trip to the Hilton, I could see the Courtyard a bit to west, and out of the way -- definitely not between the hotel and Hilton. But more importantly, I had already seen that Avis has a rental office right next door to the Emeryville Amtrak station. No taxis or shuttle buses; just walk next door. This is particularly good because we arrive just after 8 AM when they open, and our departure the next morning is for 8:55 AM. Therefore, we should be able to just drive back to the station. While we're not at all adverse to walking a kilometer or two, even with luggage, the logistics of this rental location are just too good to pass up, and we don't waste any time, either, which means more time to get breakfast on departure day -- important because there won't be a breakfast service on the Zephyr out of Emeryville that morning.

Armed with the information from my Station Walk this afternoon, when I got home, I booked a new reservation with Avis ($5 cheaper, too) and canceled the Hertz reservation, even though I would have received extra Amtrak points for the car rental. The convenience of having the rental office next to the train station outweighs all other considerations.

While I'm still annoyed that I didn't get all of my train ticket issues settled today, I can take solace in knowing that I've saved myself $5 and probably close to an hour of futzing around getting to and from the car rental location on a day when time will be at a premium
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