In preparation for my trip to St. Augustine over the weekend, it was brought to my attention that my esteemed colleagues here at the Agenda have absolutely no idea how to park at the airport. Andrew has somehow spent an entire lifetime cajoling his friends and loved ones into free rides straight to the check-in counter and Ted parks in the hourly lot for days on end like a complete psycho.
Meanwhile, I’ll do anything in my power to save $5 and not ask for help from fellow humans so I find myself navigating the long term parking lots alone… like a pro.
Never in my wildest nightmares did I think I’d be writing an explainer on airport parking, but after Ted, Andrew and even my boyfriend all expressed disgust and/or confusion about the process of parking and riding to the airport, I knew it was a necessity. One who shall remain nameless even asked, “But… how do you get to the long term lots?”
Let’s discuss this.
Long term parking
There are four long term lots at Charlotte Douglas International Airport and they’re all just $5/day with a free shuttle to the terminal. For comparison, the Hourly deck is free for the first hour and $1 per 30 minutes after that with a $20/day maximum. The Business Valet deck is $14/day and the East and West decks, cheapest among these selections, are still double the long term rate at $10/day. Long term wins.
The long term lots are located off Wilkinson Boulevard just north of the terminal but still on airport property. They are not far away and you can find them the same way you find everything at the airport: by following signs. Just drive to the main airport entrance like always but instead of following signs to the terminal (or to hourly parking like a psycho), follow signs to Long Term Parking.
How it Works
You’ll park in one of four lots. Again, signs will tell you which ones are open with available spots. (If you’re particularly anal about this sort of thing, you can also check a live status of available parking here.) You’re going to pull into the lot, take a ticket (don’t lose it) and find a parking space. Be sure to text yourself your lot number and row letter/number so you can find your car when you get back.
Stand at one of the free shuttle stops and an airport bus will be by to get you in minutes. Shuttles run 24 hours a day every 12 to 15 minutes, but I’ve never waited more than about three minutes. The bus will drop you off at check-in and from here the rest of the trip is on you.
When you return from your vacation, walk to the long term parking shuttle stop outside baggage claim. Again, the buses are running constantly so you won’t wait long. Look for the bus labeled with your lot number (you wrote it down, right?) and let the driver know what row your car is in.
The long term lots are large and mostly deserted. Although they’re safe and regularly patrolled, it’s not uncommon to feel like you’re the only one out there or on the shuttle. If you’re flying early in the morning or late at night when it’s dark, consider your level of comfort with wandering around looking for your car in such a setting. If this bothers you, you can let the driver know as soon as you board and they’ll have someone to escort you when you get to the lot. (The buses are too big to maneuver down the rows so the driver can’t just drop you off at your car.)
If you are parking or trying to return to the parking lot after 11 p.m. (when shuttles are running less frequently) you can call ahead to 704-359-4038 to give the driver a heads up you need a ride.
Also, if you travel with a lot of baggage, perhaps paying more to park close is worth it to you. I’m a carry-on only type of traveler so I see no hassle in the shuttle.
If you didn’t listen to me and didn’t text yourself the location of your car and you get back from a weekend of sipping margaritas on the beach and have no recollection of where you parked, you can call 704-359-4038 and someone will help you but not without at least a little judgement. WRITE IT DOWN.
I know you’re thinking all this long term parking is really thrilling and all, but the real question is: How long is Ted allowed to leave his car in hourly parking? The maximum limit (without notifying parking staff) is 30 days in all lots. Plenty of time for an Agenda team vacation.