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Best of Benjamin Spillman

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Benjamin Spillman
 

Parking gobbled up fast

19 November 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- With about 800,000 people expected to go to and from McCarran International Airport from Wednesday through the weekend after Thanksgiving, airport officials are pushing their prescription for good mental health.

Get a ride.

That's what Clark County Director of Aviation Randall Walker said Friday from a spot in a new airport parking lot -- one he expects will fill up sooner rather than later.

"We don't think our over 14,000 spaces will be enough to meet demand this holiday season," Walker said. "We realize that it is difficult when you are stuck in traffic and driving around looking for a parking space."

With the airport undergoing expansion, the parking situation changes about as often as the arrivals and departures boards.

There are about 7,000 new spaces that weren't available during the holidays last year. But construction has wiped out almost 6,300 other spaces, leaving a gain of only about 700 spots.

With air travel via McCarran expected to be up 7 percent from last Thanksgiving, that doesn't leave much room for extra cars.

Premium parking such as valet spots or covered long-term parking will fill up early. Economy spots will also likely fill up, pushing drivers into overflow lots, which are farther away from the airport.

There will be frequent and free shuttle service from the overflow lots but it won't be as easy as hopping out on the airport curb from a cab or a buddy's car.

People who do drive themselves are advised to arrive 30 minutes earlier than normal. That means get there two hours early for a domestic flight.

People who are generous (or desperate) enough to drive a holiday guest to the airport can make the experience as painless as possible by verifying flight times online at www.mccarran.com or www.flymccarran.com from an Internet-enabled mobile phone.

Walker offered one more tip for people who leave their car at McCarran during a holiday trip, especially in light of all the changes.

"Obviously, it is important for you to remember which lot you parked in," he said.