Parking tight at Charlotte Douglas ahead of holiday weekend

05/23/2014 1:52 PM

05/24/2014 1:47 PM

Traffic was flowing without major delays at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Friday, but some drivers complained of confusion getting to the parking lots because of the new roadway system.

“I was expecting to come in and make a right, like I always do,” said Herbert McKinney, who was flying to the New York City area. He said he circled twice before locating an open parking lot. “It’s kind of a mess.”

Extra traffic officers and parking workers were deployed to direct motorists. The airport was also running shuttle buses from the parking lots to the lower level of the terminal, keeping the upper level clear for drivers to drop off departing passengers.

Still, some passengers said the airport could make things more clear amidst the multiple construction projects that have shifted traffic patterns and closed some roads.

“The substitute signs are not really as accurate as they could be,” said Robin Willis, arriving from the Long Term 4 parking lot.

Charlotte Douglas is suffering from a parking crunch this summer that has multiple causes. The airport is down about 5,000 parking spaces from last year, while new hourly parking decks are being built. The new decks are expected to open in November.

About a third of the airport’s parking shuttle buses weren’t running this week because of breakdowns, and while Charlotte Douglas plans to replace much of the fleet over the summer, officials warn that won’t solve all the problems.

Officials have warned travelers to expect full parking lots for most of the summer. You can check which lots are open at parking.charlotteairport.com before leaving for Charlotte Douglas.

If surface lots or daily parking decks are not available, travelers may have to use the more expensive business and valet parking options. There are headaches with valet parking too, however, as the airport is in the midst of a planned switch to a new valet parking provider next month. Travelers have complained of long waits to pick up cars.

John Bona, owner of Park’n Go, said business has been brisk at his lot on Scott Futrell Drive, north of the airport. He said Friday that his almost 2,000-space parking lot was about 65 percent full.

“This whole place is under construction,” one traveler complained to companions after getting off the daily parking deck shuttle. “It’s a nightmare.”

McKinney said he understands that Charlotte Douglas is growing and hopes the airport will soon be better. But he said Charlotte Douglas has lost a lot of the convenience that used to go with a smaller size.

“This airport’s getting too big and too crazy,” said McKinney. “It’s not fun anymore.”

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