'It was crazy:' Travelers at RDU airport struggle to find available parking spots

Travelers are frustrated after dealing with parking problems at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

One of ABC11's photographers nearly missed his flight because the main deck was open to online booking only.

Then he was redirected to long-term economy lot 3 and he could barely find a spot.

"Even though they said it was open, you had drive around for 15 minutes," said Miles Whitaker, who was returning home to RDU Monday night. "So it was the worst experience I've had so far and then getting out of here, I couldn't pay my ticket."

Miles did eventually find a spot in the central deck and, lucky for him, got in even though he didn't book online.

"This is the first time since living in North Carolina that I could not find a parking space except on the upper deck outside," he said.

RDU provided the following information in a statement on Tuesday, after the story aired:

RDU continuously monitors parking capacity to ensure that a variety of options are available. Our staff calculates the number of online bookings for each facility and closes the entrance for drive-up customers when all available spaces have been booked in advance. There are 17 electronic signs across campus, including six signs between the I-40/Aviation Parkway exit and the parking garage, that inform guests which parking options are available to drive-up customers.

RDU takes a number of factors into consideration when determining when to open additional parking lots, including our ability to manage peak and average capacity, staff resources and the cost of operating shuttle buses to and from remote lots. Capacity in the parking deck peaks from Friday - Sunday, but is much lower during the week. For context, during the month of October, capacity averaged 79% in the parking garage and 55% in Economy 3 from Monday - Thursday. From Friday - Sunday, the average was 94% in the parking garage and 73% in Economy 3. RDU will continue to monitor parking trends to determine when an additional lot needs to open.

Guests are not allowed to park on the sidewalks, but it is not unusual for drivers to wait for arriving passengers on the side of John Brantley Blvd. instead of in the cell phone lot. RDU traffic control and law enforcement monitor the roads, parking lots and terminal curbs to prevent drivers from parking in unauthorized areas.

The complaints come as RDU said last week that the number of passengers in September exceeded what they were expecting by 8%.
But there are still about 10,000 fewer people coming through the airport per day when you compare data from 2019 at this time of year.

"We had to travel like 15 minutes to find a place to park and luckily some guy was backing out and we pulled in," said Channcey Simms, who had paid for premium parking. "I'm telling you, it was crazy."

RDU's Express mid-priced option in between central and long-term closed during the pandemic and remains closed.

The same goes for economy lot 4 and it seems there is no timetable for any sort of return.

The best thing is to plan ahead and check RDU's website where they show how full each garage is.

If you're leaving later on in the week, it's almost a must to book more than 24 hours in advance.
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