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Cellphone Lots at Airports Becoming a Popular Trend

LCT Staff
Posted on January 9, 2008

U.S. — With post-9/11 security measures, the onset of cellphones, and increased traffic, traffic loops through airports have been getting more and more crowded. Now, several airports are constructing cellphone lots, where drivers can park for free nearby and wait for a call from their passenger to say they’re ready.

The idea has captivated not only airport managers, but also limousine drivers and drivers who are picking up relatives or friends.

At the cellphone lot at Logan International Airport in Boston, William Young was waiting for a friend after driving from Exeter, N.H., on the day after Thanksgiving. “It’s a great idea,” he said. “I tend to be on the early side, and this is better than spinning in circles or paying for the garage.”

Another driver waiting in the lot, which holds about 30 cars, echoed his sentiments. Mary Boland had driven to Logan from Springfield, Mass., to pick up her son and daughter-in-law, visiting from Florida. She has used cellphone lots several times at Logan and in Florida, and she said, “With cellphones, it makes a lot of sense,” she said. “I’m here 15 minutes and they call me,” and her family reunion begins without a jockeying for space at the curb of the arriving-passengers area.

Professional drivers love the cellphone lots, too. Mike Gres, who drives for a limousine company in Mount Vernon, N.Y., was standing next to his car smoking a cigarette while waiting for a passenger in the cellphone lot at the Westchester County Airport in White Plains one recent afternoon. Gres raved about the concept. He also said he appreciated the cellphone lot’s electronic arrivals board — a duplicate of the one in the terminal.

“You can tell when the flight is delayed, instead of wondering about its status,” he said. That means he does not have to pay to park in the regular lot and go into the terminal.

The lot also has portable toilets, which many drivers consider a convenience — even in the winter.

La Guardia simply does not have the room for a cellphone lot — some would say it does not have room for one more taxicab, for that matter. But its big sister, Kennedy International Airport, which covers far more land, does. Its 250-car cellphone lot opened late last spring.

There are no current plans for a cellphone lot at the third major New York area airport, Newark Liberty, where space is also tight, said Pasquale DiFulco, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the region’s airports. Still, he did not rule such a lot out in the future.

At airports where cellphone lots exist, airport managers usually call attention to them with big signs. At the Westchester airport, large electronic signs near the entrance urge drivers to use the cellphone lot.

Other airports do the same and some promote the lots on their websites, too. The Palm Beach International Airport website, for example, clearly shows the lot, which is on the airport’s northern edge — and warns that leaving cars there unattended is prohibited.

Casandra Davis, the airport’s spokeswoman, said that when the lot first opened, officials expected it to be used by private cars, which it is. It has also become extremely popular with taxi and limousine drivers, but there is no competition for space, she said. “Everybody gets along fine.”

SOURCE: New York Times

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