Our top story this week in Aviation Daily's Airports (see here for free) is about efforts at Phoenix Sky Harbor and Portland International airports to better inform passengers on available parking.
Phoenix is installing a system that will more accurately count the number of available spaces in its lots and and let passengers know by electronic signs at the entrance of each lot and on each level of its parking garages. But the system will not tell drivers exactly where the spots are. The new system will cover more than 10,000 spaces at the airport.
Portland is taking its system to the next level by actually showing drivers where spots are available, except on the top floor of its lot. The Portland system uses overhead sonic detectors to show available spaces. The Portland system will be available in spring 2007, while Phoenix will begin to go online in 2008.
As someone who parks at airports regularly, I have to commend my hometown airport -- Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International -- for installing the Portland system in its hourly and daily lots. When you drive in, a sign tells you how many spaces are in each level of the parking lot. Once inside, each row has a sign that shows how many spaces are available in the row. And each row has a light showing availability of a space -- red for occupied and green for available. The BWI system has probably saved me hours of driving around trying to find a space. And now that I am usually carrying a baby with me, it's even more important.
I was recently traveling out of Sacramento International, and I drove my sister's truck for her to pick up. This airport's daily parking garage has a system that is similar to what Phoenix is going to install. It was convenient to know exactly how many spaces were available in each level. Anything that improves the parking experience for customers can only contribute to an airport's bottom line.