SD › Atlanta › Atlanta Airport Car Rental
Updated: September 13, 2022
The rental car center at Atlanta International Airport is located a short distance from the arrivals terminal, with easy access via the airport’s Plane Train. I recommend reserving a car in advance at RentalCars.com.
Atlanta Airport Car Rental
My recommendation: The Atlanta airport is large, but renting a car there is easy and convenient. For the best prices reserve a car in advance at the Atlanta airport.
Tip: If you’re looking for large family-sized minivan or if you require a booster or car seat, then book in advance for the most selection.
Rental cars available at Atlanta airport: Dollar • Thifty • Alamo • Payless • Budget • Enterprise • National • Sixt • Avis
Atlanta’s airport is one of the largest in the world, yet it is easy to navigate from your gate to the rental car center. The Domestic Terminals North and South are on the west end of the airport. Delta flights leave from the South Terminal; all other domestic flights leave from the North Terminal. Domestic flights leave from Concourses A to E and T. The International Terminal is at the far east end with flights using concourse F.
The Rental Car Center is located west of the airport on the other side of I-85, along with the Georgia International Convention Center, the Gateway Center Arena (home of the Atlanta’s WNBA team and the G League), and the four hotels of the Gateway Center Campus, all Marriott properties: Marriott Atlanta Airport Gateway, AC Hotel Atlanta Airport Gateway, Renaissance Atlanta Airport Gateway, SpringHill Suites Atlanta Airport Gateway.
Getting to the Rental Car Center at Atlanta Airport
All three terminals and all seven concourses are connected by the Plane Train. At the end of the line, you’ll need to switch to the Sky Train to get to the Rental Car Center, Convention Center, Gateway Arena, and the Gateway Center hotels. From domestic gates, follow signs for Baggage Claim and Ground Transportation to reach the Plane Train.
International arrivals will retrieve their bags first then go through customs before proceeding to the Plane Train. Make a left when you exit customs to get to the train. (Sorry, no photos allowed inside the customs area.)
The Plane Train runs through an underground tunnel. From any concourse or terminal (Concourse A is shown here), signs will lead downstairs via escalator or elevator (usually located adjacent to the escalator). Continue following signs toward Domestic Baggage Claim and Ground Transportation.
Wait here for the Plane Train. The electronic map above shows the current station (in this case, Concourse T) in yellow with upcoming stops listed in consecutive order in blue. This train begins in the domestic terminal at Concourse T then goes through all other domestic concourses (A through E) and ends at the international terminal at Concourse F and International Baggage Claim).
Another example of the Plane Train map, this one heading from Concourse A to Concourse T and Domestic Baggage Claim. The displays offer important information in eight languages: English and Arabic (seen here), plus Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, German, and Chinese. Wait time for the next train is shown at the top middle of the screen.
Close up of the symbols used for Baggage Claim (a suitcase) and Ground Transportation (a bus and a taxi). These symbols are shown on signs throughout the airport, not just on the train maps.
When the Plane Train arrives, the doors slide open automatically for access. The train is level with the floor with only a slight gap between the platform and train, allowing easy wheelchair or stroller entry. Priority seating (the only seats on the train) is available at the front and rear of the train.
Onboard the Plane Train. The map is a little different here. The current station (where you are boarding from) is marked by letters in red above, and the upcoming station is shown in yellow.
Inside the Plane Train. No matter where you board, maps are clearly visible. Most of the train is designed for standing only with handrails and ceiling traps for stabilization. Do hold on; it starts and stops abruptly and moves fast.
Ride the Plane Train to the last stop at Domestic Baggage Claim and Ground Transportation. There are escalators leading up and usually an elevator in service adjacent to the escalator. In this instance, the elevator is closed for maintenance. The next closest elevator is at the Concourse T stop.
Domestic Baggage Claim is busy and sometimes chaotic. This is a scene from the South Terminal, exclusively used by Delta flights. Passengers should refer to the large blue screen to locate the correct carousel for their flight. Luggage carts are available to rent here and can be returned after you reach your rental car.
Closer look at the luggage carts, available to rent for $9.00 and payable by cash or card.
After claiming their bags, passengers should look for these clearly-marked signs pointing the way to a variety of transportation options. The red line at the top indicates Domestic Terminal South, where you’ll find baggage for all Delta flights as well as some shuttle services. The blue line indicates Domestic Terminal North, where passengers will find their luggage from all other airlines, along with the most common transportation options: taxis, rideshares, public transit to the city (MARTA), as well as the Sky Train to the Rental Car Center.
Follow the electronic displays to reach the Sky Train…
Or follow the signs for Rental Cars, which will also lead to the Sky Train.
Continue following until you reach the building exit marked W1 on the sliding glass doors.
Cross at the blue crosswalk to reach the Sky Train. (This area is also where to find taxis, hotel shuttles, and local/regional shuttle service.)
Outside the Sky Train station. All hotels and rental car companies served by the Sky Train are prominently displayed on the external wall. Riding the Sky Train is free of charge.
Plaques of each car rental agency in the Rental Car Center.
Enter the train station and take the escalator up to reach the Sky Train platform.
Elevators are also available just behind the escalator.
The Sky Train platform. The train looks a lot like the Plane Train with automatic, sliding doors and level floors for easy wheelchair and stroller access.
Onboard the Sky Train is designed mostly for standing with handrails and grab bars. Dedicated wheelchair space is indicated on the left wall next to a horizontally placed bar. The digital display indicating stops on the route is not as advanced as on the Plane Train.
Priority seating is in blue, marked by a sign, and offers grab bars on either side of the benches.
Route map for the Sky Train showing three stops: the Airport Domestic Terminal, the GICC Station (for the Georgia International Convention Center, Gateway Center Arena, and Gateway Center Hotels), and finally the Rental Car Center.
The Sky Train arrives at the fourth floor of the Rental Car Center, as indicated on the sign seen here on the center right. A series of escalators leads down the the rental car counters. Each set of escalators serves a different set of rental companies as marked on the signs above.
A closer look at the sign, listing the Sky Train stops (Level 4), locations of each car rental counter (Levels 2 and 3), and where you’ll find shuttles to car rental companies off site, the shuttle to the International Terminal, and the smoking area (Level 1)
Two pairs of elevators are on the opposite ends of each floor of the Rental Car Center.
Picking Up a Car at the Rental Car Center
There is a detailed map of the Rental Car Center on the fourth floor, along with a map of the Sky Train’s route. All rental car counters are found on the second and third floors, and rental car pickups are usuallly in the corresponding garages on the second and third floors. Restrooms are located on both ends of the second and third floors. The first floor (ground level) is where you will find shuttle service to the International Terminal and off-site car rental companies.
Heading down from the Sky Train station, floor three of the Rental Car Center has counters for Avis, Hertz, and Sixt (Sixt has their counter on the third floor, but pickups are on the first). The Sixt counter is the leftmost counter on the third floor.
The Hertz counter is in the center.
And Avis’ counter is the farthest to the right. Car pickup for Avis is down this hallway to the left. Elevators and another set of escalators is at that end, too.
Exactly the same, but on the opposite side of the room (past the Sixt counter) is the Hertz car pickup area.
After checking in at the counter, follow the signs for Car Pickup.
All rental car pickups will occur in the garage across the street from the Rental Car Center, accessible via a skybridge.
The Avis portion of the third-floor garage has a large customer service counter with a screen displaying the renters’ names and the parking space number, making it easy to find your vehicle. Most rentals don’t require a stop by here; you can just go straight to your car.
A sampling of cars from the Avis fleet with a variety of SUVs and sedans awaiting pickup.
On the opposite side of the third-floor garage is the Hertz customer service counter, not quite as high tech as the Avis counter. Again, most people won’t need to visit this counter.
A variety of child seats on offer at Hertz, suitable for infants and older. All rental car companies have child seats, but not all have the same variety available.
A full-sized passenger van in the Hertz parking lot, along with a range of SUVs.
Heading downstairs, most of the car rental counters are on the second floor. Alamo is the farthest left, next to National, Advantage, Payless, Ace, Airport, Enterprise, Budget, Dollar, and Thrifty on the far right.
View of the second floor of the Rental Car Center from the righthand side at the Dollar/Thrifty counter. A slightly outdated sign above indicates the counters on this level and a second sign in the middle of the room points the way up to the third-floor counters. Two sets of escalators and two sets of elevators serve this floor. The skybridges to the garages are on the opposite ends of the room.
National’s customer service counter in the second-floor garage. A directory including other car rental agencies is on the wall, seen here on the left.
A selection of upgraded sedans, SUVs, and sportscars in National’s garage space.
Budget is also on the second-floor garage, with their customer service counter shown here along with a convertible Mustang.
SUVs, sedans, and sporty coupe in the Budget garage on the second floor of the Rental Car Center.
Enterprise and Alamo share a customer service kiosk on the second floor. Enterprise has an excellent selection of luxury vehicles.
A wide selection of pickup trucks…
Along with SUVs and minivans here.
Full-sized vans in the Budget lot.
Ace and Airport Rent A Car share a kiosk on the second floor. A minivan and a few SUVs of theirs are seen here.
These three companies offer affordable rentals in great condition. These Kia SUVs and sedans are in the Advantage lot.
As for Dollar and Thrifty, pickup is also on the second floor, opposite of Alamo and Enterprise…
But, since the companies are owned by Hertz, you’ll find them under the yellow Hertz-brand signs. It can be a little confusing to locate your car, so don’t hesitate to ask an attendant in the garage.
More car seats in the second-floor garage.
A closer look at one of the child seats.
Head down to the first floor (ground floor) to pick up rental cars from Sixt. Here in the background, you can also see some yellow signs, indicating the rental return area for Hertz (more on returns shortly).
A sample of rentals available from Sixt: a convertible sports car, minivan, SUV, truck, sedan, and more.
Returning a Car to the Rental Car Center
From the highway, follow signs for the Rental Car Center. (Don’t worry; I had a passenger take this photo).
Once at the Rental Car Center, find the rental car drop off area for the company you rented from. If you miss your turn, just follow the Return Loop signs to come back around.
Turn into the designated garage and follow signs for Return. This area will be narrow, so drive slowly and carefully. Drivers with mobility impairments should follow the symbol above for parking spots that are closer to the Sky Train to return to the airport.
The rental area will widen out toward the end. Just follow the overhead signs and the arrows on the ground.
Some rental car returns aren’t marked as well, so just follow the arrows on the ground and stay within the single-line lanes.
Standard rental car returns park near the escalator and stairs leading up to the Sky Train station. Persons with disabilities should follow the signs with the wheelchair symbol for parking closer to the elevator. Head back up to the fourth floor to take the Sky Train back to the airport or Gateway Center hotels.
Most airport rental companies ask that you leave the keys in the car upon return. But if you forget or if it’s after-hours and the customer service kiosks are closed, just leave them in the appropriate drop box.
If you rented a car off-site, the rental car shuttle will drop you off outside the first floor of the Rental Car Center. Head inside and up to the fourth floor to catch the Sky Train to the airport.
For international travelers, it may be faster to take the free shuttle seen here to get directly to the International Terminal, rather than taking the Sky Train plus the Plane Train. The international shuttle picks up and drops off on the first floor of the Rental Car Center.
More Transportation Options at the Atlanta Airport
There is no shortage of transportation options from the Atlanta airport into the city and beyond. From the Domestic and International Baggage Claim areas, look for signs overhead leading the way to various ground transportation types.
In some cases (to reach the MARTA trains or Greyhound buses, for example), international travelers will first need to take the Plane Train or International Shuttle to the Domestic Baggage Claim area. The International Shuttle is blue, and stops at the International Terminal, Rental Car Center, and the Domestic Terminal near the W2 gate and Baggage Claim area.
The train into Atlanta is run by MARTA. Follow the signs to reach the train station inside the domestic airport terminal. The MARTA station is at the west side of the domestic terminal (near the exit for the Sky Train). Trains run regularly every day of the year.
The Airport Station is the southernmost stop of both the Red and Gold Lines, which run north from the airport through College Park, East Point, West End, Five Points, Peachtree Center, Civic Center, North Avenue, Midtown, and the Arts Center and more before splitting off toward Buckhead and North Springs (Red) and Lenox and Doraville (Gold). Change at the Five Points Station to catch the Blue or Green Lines to West Lake, GWCC/CNN Center, Georgia State, King Memorial, Inman Park, Edgewood, Decatur, Avondale, and more. See the official site for more detailed rail information.
Everything you’ll need to ride the train is in the main rooms as soon as you pass through the doors. Buy tickets at the self-serve kiosks on the right; the gates to the trains are on the left. The customer service desks are straight back past the gates as is a large route map.
Several self-service kiosks are available for purchasing one-way, round-trips, or multi-day passes. Small route maps and an overview of fares are at the top of each kiosk. Standard adult tickets cost $2.50 and are valid for three hours and up to four transfers. Up to two children up to 46 inches tall ride free with a paying adult. Seniors, persons with disabilities, and Medicaid recipients qualify for a reduced fare of $1.00. More info on fares, tickets, and passes can be found on MARTA’s website.
Scan the ticket pass through the gates to the train platforms. All gates are wheelchair and stroller accessible. On the other side, there are elevators up to the trains where the gray cylinder is and stairs leading up on the right behind the customer service desk.
From the Domestic Baggage Claim area, follow overhead signs for Taxis.
This should lead to the W2 exit. Continue out the doors and turn right.
Taxis will be lined up on the curb in numbered stalls. In this picture, you can also see the local and regional shuttles on the opposite curb and hotel shuttles across the street.
Flat fares are listed according to predetermined zones. Rates are listed for single riders; add $2 for each additional passenger, plus a $1.50 fee per vehicle for airport pickups. Additional info on non-flat fare rates is detailed on the sign.
International arrivals will proceed from baggage claim directly out the doors seen here on the left to reach the taxis.
Taxis will be lined up along the curb as soon as you exit.
Flat fare and additional rates are the same at the International Terminal as they are at the Domestic Terminal.
Local, Regional, and Hotel Shuttles
From Domestic Baggage Claim, follow signs for Hotel, Local, and Regional Shuttles.
Signs will lead outside in the same direction as the taxi pickup space. Cross at the red crosswalk.
Local and regional shuttles pick up from numbered stalls on the opposite curb of the taxis.
Continue across a second red crosswalk to reach the hotel shuttles. You’ll pass the international shuttle stop along the way. The Sky Train Station is this direction, too.
Hotel shuttles pick up along the inside curb in numbered stalls, always with the hotel logo on the shuttle.
From International Baggage Claim, follow signs for Passenger Pick-Up, seen here on the left, and head outside.
Shuttles pick up on the curb to the right. Park and Ride Shuttles pick up at the orange signs, local shuttles (including those to the Rental Car Center) pick up under the red signs, and hotel shuttles (and ride shares) are at the far end at the green signs.
For Uber and Lyft, follow the bright orange and pink signs from Domestic Baggage Claim.
Head downstairs via escalator or elevator (on the opposite side).
Once downstairs, continue down the hallway to the outside.
Keep going across the blue crosswalk straight into the parking garage.
Continue straight for a few meters, then hang a left through the garage.
Exit the garage and cross the street to the covered Rideshare waiting area. The Rideshare area has eight pickup zones.
Meet your driver at the assigned pickup area. Note that there are often drivers not affiliated with any taxi or rideshare agency offering cheap rides with no wait time. Though the rates are usually low, these drivers are not vetted or background checked, and you will have no easy recourse (aside from the police) if something were to go wrong. Politely decline and wait for your Uber or Lyft driver.
The driver will pull up to the curb at the assigned zone. Be sure the verify that the license plate on the driver’s car matches with the plate Uber or Lyft sends to you.
From International Baggage Claim, getting a rideshare is a much faster process. Proceed out the exits, just like you’re meeting a taxi or shuttle.
The Uber/Lyft pickup area is past the taxis and shuttles in the area marked with the green signs. Again, be sure to verify that the vehicle’s plate number matches the one shared to you by the app.
From the Domestic Terminal, follow signs for the Greyhound bus stop downstairs. It will be in the same direction as the Rideshares. International arrivals will need to make their way to the Domestic Terminal via the International Shuttle or the Plane Train first, then follow signs for the Greyhound.
Go down the same escalator or elevator as the Rideshare passengers and continue through the hallway to the outside.
The Greyhound bus stop is immediately outside the door before you cross the blue crosswalk.
Greyhound buses operate daily from the Atlanta Airport Station from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The office here is not always open during those hours, but be assured that even if the office is closed the bus is still running. For info and tickets see Greyhound’s official website