As more travelers are booking flights again, some are encountering another pandemic-era challenge at Philadelphia International Airport: parking.
The airport’s $13-a-day economy parking lot has been closed since March 2020, and there’s no reopening date on the calendar. Another long-term lot, run by PreFlight Airport Parking, announced plans to shut down this month. That privately owned lot, at 4700 Island Ave., stopped accepting cars after July 14, according to its website, and was scheduled to close for good July 18.
PreFlight’s parent company, Chicago-based InterPark, didn’t respond to requests for comment about its plans for the property.
Zachary Young, of Camden County, said he’s been flying more often since he graduated from college recently — and first noticed in May that airport garages were getting full. His family often relied on the PreFlight lot.
Now that PreFlight won’t be an option, he’s saving up for what he expects will be more expensive garage parking when he flies to visit relatives in August. Two nights of garage parking on another trip cost him almost $80, he said.
“I don’t know how families or those simply traveling on more of a budget like myself can be expected to afford higher fares just for parking,” Young said.
Gary Cassidy, of Bensalem, travels for work two to three weeks each month. “I have been lucky to find a space every time, but it’s becoming more and more challenging,” he said.
“It would just be nice to know” what the airport is planning as far as the economy lot goes, Cassidy said. “It would be very frustrating if I got to the airport, and they had no parking.”
PHL spokesperson Florence Brown said that the airport is assessing its parking facilities, and that there’s “no estimated reopening date” for the economy lot, which has just over 7,100 parking spaces.
Total passenger traffic at PHL was up more than fivefold in May compared with May 2020, according to the airport’s most recent monthly activity report. Yet while the summer travel season has been busy, particularly compared with the periods when passenger levels plummeted during the pandemic, airport officials are bracing for a slowdown later this year.
“Given the outsized impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international and business travel, the airport anticipates a drop in passenger traffic for the fall and winter seasons, which will make scaling operations up and down particularly difficult,” Brown said. “The airport appreciates the public’s patience as it works through these challenges.”
The airport’s nearly 11,000 garage spaces remain open, as do PHL’s short-term parking facility and its cellphone waiting lot.
One recent change that could help travelers trying to park: PHL reopened its employee parking lot on Bartram Avenue, which should take some pressure off garages and make available nearly 3,000 parking spots for passengers, according to Brown.
“The employee lot opened two weeks ago in order to free up capacity in the parking garages, where employees have been permitted to park since last year,” Brown said.
PHL also published a short guide to parking and ground transportation options for summer travel, which includes a link to a list of a half-dozen options for private parking lots within 4½ miles of the airport.
As for long-term rates at the airport’s own facilities, the cheapest options available are on garage upper levels: $24 per 24 hours, when parking 72 hours or fewer, and $16 per day when parking 72 hours or more.
Short-term parking on the garage ground level has a maximum rate of $44 for 24 hours.