Parking at the Atlanta airport? Better reserve a spot

If you plan to drive to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for your next trip, be aware that you may need a parking reservation to ensure you get a space.

Some travelers have missed flights trying to find a parking spot, or given up entirely in frustration.

That’s because there has been a parking crunch at the world’s busiest airport over the last year and a half of parking deck construction. Many airport lots and decks reach capacity during peak periods, turning away those without advance reservations.

And it’s about to get even worse.

The airport is in the midst of a decade-long parking construction project, and on Oct. 23 is closing its massive South economy lot with 3,000 spaces. It plans to build a new deck on the site, but it will take three years to complete. Then, the construction will continue with the demolition and reconstruction of the existing parking decks, which are more than 40 years old. The full parking deck construction project is not scheduled for completion until 2034.

“If this is something that is going to be an ongoing issue and people are determined to not take public transit or not take a rideshare or taxi, then reserve in advance. Do not play games with this,” said Brett Snyder, who runs a travel assistance business called Cranky Concierge.

Snyder noted that “it’s incredibly stressful” to rush to find a parking spot at the airport. “You kind of lose your mind,” he said.

In years past, airport parking was “never sold out,” said traveler Scott Jeffries, who lives in Roswell. “You could just show up.”

“Now they’re sold out,” he said. “I make a reservation now.”

He learned that the hard way, when he found out that his usual off-airport lot was full, “and we went to two or three others and they were sold out.”

Travelers can book parking well in advance of their trips, just like they book flights and hotel for trips.

How to reserve a spot

At Hartsfield-Jackson, the airport offers parking reservations for the airport-run ATL West deck, ATL Select lot, and international terminal parking decks — but not at other airport-run lots that haven’t been equipped with the technology.

Some other airports, including Los Angeles International, offer more options to reserve parking across their array of lots and garages.

“It would be useful if Atlanta could join the 21st century and make it a little bit easier,” Snyder said.

Many off-airport lots take parking reservations, including The Parking Spot, WallyPark, Park ‘N Fly and PreFlight off Camp Creek Parkway, as well as Peachy Airport Parking north of the airport and FastPark & Relax near the international terminal.

There’s also long-term parking at some MARTA stations for a daily fee of $5 or $8 a day, including the College Park, Doraville, Lindbergh Center, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and North Springs stations, according to MARTA’s website. At the College Park station, the long-term parking is in the deck on the east side of the station, behind the surface lot currently being repaved.

And, some airport hotels offer parking for a fee along with use of their hotel shuttles to the airport terminal. Those and some other airport parking options are searchable at parking booking websites like cheapairportparking.org and spothero.com.

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