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KAI RYSSDAL: If you’re one of the umpteen million people who’re going to be traveling over the next three or four days, and you’re not already stressed out about it, just wait. Because there’s still time to dial into the upcoming logistical nightmare.
Crowded skies, delayed flights, unexpected weather and traffic jams, Marketplace’s Lisa Napoli’s here to help — with something you might not have thought about.
LISA NAPOLI: Plane tickets, hotels, even restaurants — you plan all that out before a trip. But parking is one thing you don’t usually bother to think about. People like Tom Lombardi are trying to change that.
TOM LOMBARDI: All you have to do is to drive into the airport, and see the lot that you usually park in full, and panic strickens you and now you begin to worry whether or not you’re gonna miss your flight.
Lombardi runs a website where you can reserve a parking spot at 200 lots around the country. He says 50 of the lots he represents sold out a week ago for the Thanksgiving holiday, and already 25 are sold out for Christmas. Supply in many parts of the country simply doesn’t match demand.
LOMBARDI: Seattle is gonna have over 200,000 people who come through their terminal Tuesday, Wednesday. They have 9,000 parking spaces.
The holidays may be so crazy that off-airport lots sometimes find themselves double-parking cars. But the rest of the year, they have to compete for business. Mark Wildman knows that to most people, a parking space is a parking space. So to entice you to drop your car at one of 35,000 spots his company operates near airports, he has to jazz things up.
MARK WILDMAN: Yeah, come on board.
We talked while riding around Los Angeles International Airport on one of his shuttles. It’s bright yellow painted with giant black spots. Parking spot — get it? Wildman knows people’s biggest fear about parking off-site is having to wait forever for the ride to and from the airport. So his spotted vans pull out every five to seven minutes. He also throws in free bottled water, cookies for the kids, newspapers and if you want to pay a little more, valet parking and some other stuff.
WILDMAN: You can have your car washed at many of our locations, your car detailed, your oil changed.
Over at the airport itself, you don’t get the perks, or have to take the shuttle, but the cost of dropping your car can be twice what it is off-site — up to $30 or $40 a day.
In Los Angeles, I’m Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.
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