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Charlotte Area

Summer Brings Fewer Parking Spaces At CLT Airport

Tasnim Shamma

If you’re flying out of Charlotte Douglas International – the airport is advising passengers to arrive early this Memorial Day weekend …. actually, for the whole summer.

That's because parking spaces are hard to find. The airport has demolished one parking deck to build a larger one.

Cindy Crissman is frustrated. 

"There's no parking. It's all limited," Crissman says. "When I've been down before, all – even long-term lots were full." 

But she's not looking for parking.  She drove down from Lexington three weeks ago to drop her friend off at the airport.

"They knew they weren't going to find a place to park and all the lots were full," she says. "So I took off work today to come back down and pick the person up."

A parking deck was demolished last year to build a new hourly parking deck. That means this summer, there are 5,000 fewer parking spaces. But Assistant Aviation Director Herbert Judon insists there are still enough spaces to accommodate everyone.

"I think what we see more often is not being able to find a spot in that lot that they're used to going to," Judon says. "Maybe you're used to parking in daily parking lot and you come out here and daily is full."

Or maybe daily is open, but you just have to take a much longer bus trip to get back and forth. Judon says parking may get tight, but there's always another alternative. 

"We do guarantee that the valet option will be open," he says." So if all else fails you have the option of using valet."

But that'll cost you.  Business valet service runs $14 a day and curbside valet -- $28 a day.  The airport does have overflow lots it usually opens around the holidays to handle the extra traffic.  Judon says those will only open, once the valet spaces have filled up. 

Marti Caddell says she doesn't want to spend that much on valet. She's picking up an arrival from Miami.

"If I were just flying in and out for a day, maybe," she says. "But if I were going to be gone for an extended amount of time, I'd get someone to drop me off." 

Judon thinks that's a good idea -- along with carpooling and taking public transportation. He says it's not just the construction that's making parking tight, but more people are calling the Charlotte area home.   

"This is one of the growing pains that we're dealing with," Judon says. "You know, we've got more demand, more local originating passengers at the airport. Things are getting busy. We're growing, we're trying to create an infrastructure to handle this growth. So we did know there would be some challenges."

Beginning Friday, the airport will increase the frequency of its shuttle buses. The new hourly parking deck is expected to open this fall and will add 1,000 spaces.