Flying Home for the Holidays Can Be a Drag! Where Do You Park When All of the Airport Lots are Full?
Updated: Nov 8, 2019
I just talked to one of my tenants and she told me she was getting ready to fly back home for the Thanksgiving weekend. She had already booked her airfare and was thinking about how to go about getting to the airport to catch her 7 am flight. Since she'd need to be there several hours in advance, she said she didn't want to bother anyone by asking them for a ride to the airport. She said she's always had someone take her to the airport and had no idea of what it cost to park there and was really surprised when she started taking a look at prices. At a minimum, parking at the Orlando Airport would run her between $10 - $29 per day! The $10 per day options would involve parking in the economy parking lots and then taking a shuttle in to the airport terminals. If she wanted to park in the garages and be able to walk in, the price was $17 - $19 per day. The most convenient option was valet parking but it was really expensive at nearly $29 per day. Ouch!
I thought back to when my husband and I used to do a lot of flying out of airports in the northeast like Philadelphia or Newark and remembered that there were other options. I looked back through my notes and found that we had frequently taken advantage of off-site parking options and had been happy with them. Yes, we needed to take a shuttle in to the airport, but we would be doing that anyway if we parked as cheaply as possible in one of the airport economy parking lots. But on certain occasions like holidays, it was our best option. We tried to find parking over the 4th of July weekend one year at the airport and the lower priced choices weren't an option - they were full. Ever since, we have always reserved our parking in advance for an off-site location like a parking lot, garage, or hotel.
I absolutely hated having to get up before the crack of dawn, load up the car with our luggage, and drive across to the airport in the dark (we were an hour+ away). We discovered the option of using a park and fly hotel for times when we knew we needed to fly out bright and early in the morning. We'd drive across the night before, stay the night at one of the hotels that had park and fly rates, catch their shuttle to the airport the next morning, leave our car in their parking lot, and catch their shuttle when we returned. For us, that was the best way to handle leaving on an early morning flight. If our flight was later, at times we would simply reserve parking in an off-site lot and enjoy the considerably lower prices than what we'd pay at the airport. We knew we had parking reserved so we knew we wouldn't be left scrambling to find a place to leave our car.
So here's an example - I ran prices for her. She was looking at flying out of Orlando on 11/27 and needed to be to the airport by 5 am, and she'd be flying back on 12/1 at 7 pm. She'd be paying for 6 days of parking (because each day includes 24 hours maximum). At the airport with no reservation for parking (and a chance that lots would be full and not an option anyway), she'd pay $60 for parking in the economy lot & taking a shuttle in to the airport, $102-$114 to park in the garages and walk into the terminal, or as much as $174 for valet parking. I ran quotes through each of the following companies - she could park in an off-site lot for as little as $32.18 which is about half of what she'd pay parking as cheaply as possible at the airport! For the convenience of staying at an airport hotel the night before her flight, leaving her car there, and then taking their shuttle back and forth to the airport, she'd pay $115.45 which was within the range of what she'd pay to park in the airport garages.
Here's my thought - think about your situation. Depending on your flight (or cruise) time, you may prefer to find an option that includes a hotel stay. Yes it will cost you more, but it could be worth it since you won't need to head to the airport quite so early. If you can be happy with parking only, there are options that will save you a good amount of money out there. Do your research - figure out what parking at the airport will cost you. Then run prices on services like these to see how much you can save. Many of these offer free cancellation, and some don't require you to pay in full up front.
Airport Parking - you'll find parking options in off-site parking lots and at nearby hotels that don't require a stay. Use the code HELPER5 through 2019 to save $5 on your parking stay.
Airport Parking Reservations - you can reserve parking only or hotel and parking packages at many airports including Orlando.
Looking 4 Parking - search for prices on parking off-site at the airport. You'll likely find self parking and valet parking options.
Park 'N Fly - save on parking at various airport locations; typically less expensive than parking on-site at the airport. Some locations include self parking, valet parking, luggage assistance, and car washes.
Park Sleep Fly - reserve your choice of hotel + parking, hotel only, or parking only. Available at airports or cruise ports.
Park Sleep Hotels - book packages that include a night's stay with parking for up to two weeks at airports or cruise ports. You can select to stay the night before you leave, the night after you leave, or both. You can also book just hotels or just parking.
The Parking Spot - book uncovered, covered, or premium covered parking at off-site airport locations including Orlando.
Happy traveling! I hope one of these suits your needs. I never liked to chance not being able to get parking at the airport when I needed it. By reserving up front, that was one less thing that I needed to worry about when I traveled.
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