An Insider’s Guide to Parking at Small and Regional Airports

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Are you looking to park at small airports and feeling a little lost, and feeling the same way about regional airports? No worries. We’ve got you covered in our guide for parking at both types.

Small Airport Parking

We need to take a look at the difference between small and regional airports. Small airports differ from large airports in a couple of different ways. First, small airports generally have less air traffic (actual flights arriving and departing) and don’t receive as many larger jets versus small propeller-driven airplanes. Small airports may also function as a Fixed Base Operator (FBO) in order to provide services like maintenance and fuel to aircrafts that pass through their airports. They also might offer flight training to their communities.

Des Moines International Airport, located in Iowa, is an example of a small airport. Total, they had 219,746 passengers in February 2023 according to their own traffic statistics, available here. As a result of being a smaller airport, they have limited parking availability. A quick check of their parking show these fees:

  • Hourly:
    • First 20 minutes are free
    • Max per 24 hours is $38/day.
  • Long Term Premium:
    • $1 every twenty minutes
    • Max per 24 hours is $28/day
  • Long Term: 
    • $1 every twenty minutes
    • Max per 24 hours is $18/day
  • Green Economy Lot:
    • $2 per hour
    • Max per 24 hours is $10/day
  • Blue Economy Lot:
    • $2 per hour
    • Max per 24 hours is $10/day
  • Red Economy Lot:
    • $2 per hour
    • Max per 24 hours is $8/day
  • Grey Economy Lot:
    • $2 per hour
    • Max per 24 hours is $7/day

They do offer an online parking tracker, which is helpful when planning when to park and what spaces will be available in their lots. Additionally, they have a Cell Phone Lot for free parking while you wait to pick up an arriving passenger. They also offer a free shuttle from their economy lots to the terminal. They allow vehicles to be parked for up to 60 consecutive days in any of their airport lots, but beyond that, it is considered an abandoned, unattended vehicle. You can call to arrange longer stays if you’re going to be away from your car for more than two months.

Another example of a small airport would be Huntsville International Airport, located in Alabama, which also has their passenger activity available online. According to their website, in February 2023, they had 96,531 total passengers. That’s not very many, even in comparison to Des Moines in Iowa, solidifying Huntsville International as a small airport. Even still, they offer their own on-site parking available at these rates:

  • Hourly Parking
    • Parking Deck Level 1: $24.00/day
    • Parking Deck Levels 2-6: $12/day
    • Economy Parking: $8/day
      • This is deck parking as well

They do note that all rates are $2 per hour up to the maximum per day and the first 30 m minutes of parking in any lot at HSV are free.

They also offer electronic car charging stations, available in the airport parking deck north face, opposite the elevator interface. Two units are located on the first floor, and four are located on the fifth floor.

Regional Airport Parking

Now that we’ve taken a look at small airport parking, now let’s look at regional airports. Regional airports are generally located in metropolitan areas and serve relatively large populations, with high levels of activity and some jets and multi-engine propeller aircrafts coming through the airport.

The first example of a regional airport we’ll look at is LGA – LaGuardia Airport in New York. Based on the statistics from January 2023, they had a total number of flights sitting at 25,853. Their monthly commercial passengers totaled 1,367,226 in July 2022. That is a big airport, and because of that, their parking lot solutions are very different than the ones we saw in small airports.

Based on the information available on their airport parking rates page, LaGuardia has three terminal lots (A, B, and C) and two economy lots by reservation only (Prepaid and Discount).

Their Terminal Parking fees are:

  • Terminal A
    • ½ hour: $5
    • Each additional half hour or fraction thereof: $5
    • Each additional half hour or fraction thereof, over three hours stay: $10
    • 24-hour maximum: $55
      • They offer a discounted prebooking rate (booking at least 24 hours in advance) of $39
  • Terminal B
    • ½ hour: $5
    • Each additional half hour or fraction thereof: $5
    • Each additional half hour or fraction thereof, over three hours stay: $10
    • 24-hour maximum: $60
      • They offer a discounted prebooking rate (booking at least 24 hours in advance) of $39
  • Terminal C
    • ½ hour: $6
    • Each additional half hour or fraction thereof: $6
    • Each additional half hour or fraction thereof, over three hours stay: $12
    • 24-hour maximum: $70
      • They offer a discounted prebooking rate (booking at least 24 hours in advance) of $45

They also offer the previously-mentioned, reservation-only lots: Prepaid Economy and Discount Parking. Prepaid Economy starts at $29 for the first 24 hours; after 24 hours, each 12 hours, or fractions thereof are $14.50.

It’s easy to see the difference between a parking situation like LGA, a regional airport that handles much higher traffic, than something like Des Moines, which has far less traffic and thus, less space available and cheaper rates.

We’re going to take a look at another regional airport that handles high traffic: Detroit Metro Airport. According to their year-end statistics in December 2022, they had 2,311,822 passengers. Detroit Metro Airport offers their own on-site parking, including short term parking, long term parking, electric vehicle parking and valet services.

They have two short term parking lots, McNamara Short-Term Parking and Big Blue Deck Short-Term Parking. Both have a maximum daily rate of $40, starting at $4.00 for half an hour of parking. Their valet parking has a maximum daily rate of $47, starting at $12 for up to 2 hours.

Taking a look at long term parking, there are, again, two lots: McNamara Long-Term Parking and Big Blue Deck Long-Term Parking. There’s a bit of a difference in the cost here; McNamara has a daily maximum rate of $28 and Big Blue Deck has a maximum daily rate of $20. There’s also Green Lots 1 & 2 which have a flat 24 hour daily rate of $17.00, which includes additional or partial dates.

Of course, Detroit Metro AIrport also offers EV parking stations in both the McNamara and Big Blue Deck parking lots, at no additional cost. They are only available in the Long-Term Parking portions of the lots.

Wrapping up our guide: it’s easy to confuse small and regional airports, since regional airports are often in your backyard or are otherwise very local. While small airports may be a bit of a trek away, advantages like a smaller staff, cheaper parking, and other amenities may appeal, whereas regional airports offer more variety, often have on-site dining options, and are prepared to handle long-term and short-term solutions for parking for their passengers.

On Air Parking Lots

With 4 to 5-star service, pain-free online reservations, and customer service available by calling 10am-7pm ET, Monday through Friday, On Air Parking has got you covered regardless of your parking situation, whether you’re looking for small airport parking or regional airport parking. Give them a call at 424-532-8940 if you have any questions about where you can park, or take a look at their complete online list.

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