Think back to the days when going to Grandma’s house for the holidays meant a quick drive across town. Today, it may mean driving to the airport, finding a parking space, and boarding a plane to get across the state or even the country. Maneuvering through airline checks and TSA security challenging enough–especially this time of year–but finding a parking space at the airport can be just as difficult.
Parking at airports for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas presents unusual challenges. Travelers are looking for deals on airfare and the lowest priced parking available, so they are willing to park in the lower-cost economy lots. The large influx of parkers in a span of a day or two often fills the economy parking space, forcing the operator to pack vehicles into every nook and cranny in the lot. When that fills, overflow lots and other creative parking measures are implemented. Most parking managers are happy to contain the traffic into their facilities and maximize the revenue for the holiday period.
What if this pattern became the norm and not just a holiday event? A recent article in USA Today cites a study projecting that within a decade, 24 of the 30 busiest U.S. airports will become as congested twice every week as they are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Several airports will experience the holiday-style crush twice weekly in as little as three years. Why will this occur? More people are traveling and airline consolidation has funneled more passengers through key hubs. Experts worry that if the congestion is not addressed at these airports, longer security lines, delayed flights, and unhappy consumers will be the result. Airport master plans will accommodate the necessary infrastructure to meet the demand for more gates, parking, and ancillary facilities. The larger question that needs to be asked is, what are the ramifications of this congestion, and how will it affect parking at these airports?