Over 500 million passengers flew in the U.S. in 2011, and we would guess that around 90% of them hate airport parking. Airport parking is a pain. It can be exorbitantly expensive, infuriatingly hectic, and unnecessarily confusing. Nothing's worse than frantically driving from lot to lot searching for a last-minute spot when you're late for a flight. And when you do finally find parking, you could very well end up paying upwards of $100 for a week in a dubious locale.
Next time you travel, protect your wallet and mental health alike with these airport parking tips.
Do your homework
The biggest mistake you can make is driving to the airport without doing a little research. It's not hard. If you're looking for parking in a United States airport, check out TravelNerd's airport guide. Simply enter which airports you're flying to and from and choose the airport parking option. You'll find an extensive list of parking choices with prices, coupons, addresses, and amenities (valet parking, security, etc.). You can filter your results and sort by price or distance from the airport. For airports not listed on TravelNerd's guide, hop on Google. Google knows all.
The second biggest mistake you can make is not booking a spot in advance. This is particularly important at peak travel times. Going to the airport without reservations will work out fine most of the time. But once in a while, unforeseen circumstances will set you behind schedule and you don't want your plan A to fall through – especially if you don't have a solid plan B. So, when you have decided on the best parking lot, be sure to just reserve your spot online. Don’t risk losing your spot. Surprisingly enough, booking parking through an aggregator can be cheaper than booking directly with the lot. This isn't always possible at airports but is fairly common with offsite locations.
You will almost always find cheaper parking when it's not on airport property. Sure, the distance between your car and your plane is greater, but offsite garages sometimes offer shuttle service directly to and from the airport. This is actually quite nice because you're dropped off exactly where you need to be and don't have to lug your luggage across a giant parking lot. If the lot does not offer a shuttle service, you'll have to determine how parking offsite and calling a cab compares in price to paying for a spot at the airport.