How Airport Parking Works: 5 Things to Know Before Your Next Trip

Airport parking is often left off the list of things to do when planning a trip because calling a ride-sharing company or taxi service is easier.

However, you may be surprised just how much you can save by driving yourself to the airport. Setting up your airport parking details with an airport or third-party service isn’t difficult to do, either, and can even be done last-minute.

Airport Parking vs. Taxi or Ride-Share

When determining the affordability of your ride-share or taxi trip to the airport, you need to consider your distance to the airport, where you’re flying out of, and the length of your trip. Unless you’re very close to the terminal, taking a short trip, or flying out of a budget airline, 80% of the time, it costs less money to drive yourself to the airport. It’s in your best interest to park.

What to Know About 5 Airport Parking Types

There are more options for airport parking than travelers realize, and many of them can save you time and money. The parking alternative you choose is determined by what matters most: proximity to the airport, convenience, available amenities, time constraints, and affordability.

1. Off-Airport Parking

Cost: $

Parking off-airport is an affordable airport parking option that isn’t affiliated with any airport service. Off-airport parking lots/garages allow you to reserve a spot in advance, offer free shuttle service to the terminals, and have the same amenities as an airport valet. You also have the option to buy a covered parking lot space complete with 24/7 surveillance and security guards.

2. Hotel Parking

Cost: $

Believe it or not, you can park in multiple hotel parking lots across the country, provided that you are permitted to do so. Permission is provided by the hotel by calling their front desk or through a third-party app or website. For example, if you wanted to reserve Nashville airport parking, you could do so through One Stop Parking without having to stay at the hotel itself.

Hotels that offer this option have a free shuttle service to and from the terminal and parking for the duration of your trip. This is often the most affordable and convenient option if you’re okay with open-lot parking. Some hotels are gated and have security guards, so check beforehand.

3. Economy Parking

Cost: $$

Economy parking is the least expensive option at the airport. While that means you’ll save more money than you would with daily parking, you’ll likely have an uncovered spot and a lengthy walk to the front of the terminal. However, economy parking is a convenient option for longer trips, and the airport will supply you with free transit to the airport via shuttle or the bus.

4. Daily Parking

Cost: $$$

Now we’re closing in on the most expensive options. Daily parking is often the first add-on option you’ll see when you purchase a ticket, which leads casual travelers to believe parking, in general, is expensive. However, if you have some extra cash and you value convenience and safety, daily parking often provides a covered parking garage and a short walk to the terminal.

If you’re planning a long-term trip, daily parking will start to add up really fast. We recommend searching for economical options if your trip lasts longer than 2 weeks unless you have an electric vehicle. If airports have electric charging stations, they’re typically in daily lots.

5. Valet Parking

Cost: $$$

Valet parking is the most expensive option at the airport, but they’re very convenient for last-minute travelers. Not all airports offer valet parking, so check beforehand if you want to use this service. Airport valets offer more than just parking. They also provide oil changes, car washes, and other convenient services that ensure your car is in tip-top shape when you return.

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