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Parking becomes a premium during the holidays

Lake Charles Regional Airport parking spots fill up quickly, as people begin to travel again
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 9:34 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Parking has become a premium at Lake Charles Regional Airport, with some people even having to park in the grass during busy holiday weekends. This comes as the airport anticipates an increase in travel as the holiday season gets closer.

While these spots are filling up quickly, Executive Director of LCH, Health Allen, says it’s not necessarily a bad thing, and that he’s glad people are able to travel again this holiday season, after the difficult year we’ve all had.

“To sit here now approximately 20 months later and to be talking about ‘well the parking lots full and that sort of thing’ that’s a good thing, it’s good news.”

“It is a problem, but it’s a good problem to have,” Allen said.

Even though people are getting the itch to travel after being cooped up for a year, not all of the parking spots at the airport are being filled by people catching flights.

“I always like to say we don’t really have a shortage of parking, we have a shortage of control out here at the airport, and the reason for that is; and it’s very popular; is that we have free parking,” Allen said.

That free parking saves travelers tons of money, but also means there’s no way to regulate who is parking in the airport lot.

“They may be out here to rent a car and they’ll park in the parking lot, they may just be meeting somebody here to go south down to Cameron Parish and we know a lot of that stuff goes on,” Allen said.

Also contributing is a group of workers that were displaced after Hurricane Ida. Bristow Helicopter’s base in Houma was damaged, along with many of the worker’s homes. Until that base can be fixed, many of those helicopters are temporarily flying out of LCH.

Allen says that should only be a problem for about two more months, and those parking spots will be free as soon as the Houma base in repaired. He also adds that the Bristow management has done what they can to secure other parking for workers, such as at Burton Coliseum.

They are working on plans to create and build more parking, both for passengers and employees. The plans were put on hold during the pandemic, but they are back in the works now.

The expansion for passenger parking is in the planning phase and is awaiting funding, but he hopes the project will begin to take shape in later 2022. The employee parking expansion is in the design phase and has been fully funded, so Allen says they expect the project to bid in early 2022.

The employee lot will also help provide relief for passengers by opening up the main lot, where most employees are currently parking.

Allen says he hopes these new parking lots will provide a solution, hopefully by next year’s holiday season.

“Moving into the holiday season we know we’re going to have some parking issues so hopefully this is the last year we have that as we move forward with expansions going into 2022.”

If you do plan to travel for Thanksgiving or other upcoming holidays, Allen advises to give yourself enough time to park before your flight, and if you can’t find a space in the lot, you can park in the grass without fear of being towed.

Allen also adds that this is not an ongoing problem with full parking lots on a regular day, and is usually only full on holiday weekends. He said Columbus Day had a 23% increase in passengers coming through LCH, so that was one of the first weekends the lot was completely full, forcing some passengers to park in the grass.

They do expect the lot to be full this Thanksgiving, along with other upcoming holiday’s such as Christmas.

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