For years this was the typical scenario that took place each time I had to pick my husband up from the airport: Get call from husband notifying me that he was on plane and that it was leaving on time. Get time he would be landing. Establish meeting place (in front of terminal across from baggage claim). Get into car, drive to airport, and loop around and around airport perimeter while waiting for him to appear at designated meeting place. Sound familiar?
Well, if you live in Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, Philadelphia, Jacksonville or the other dozen or so cities whose airports have constructed “cell phone lots,” your days wasting gas looping around the airport are over. The “cell phone lots” are designed to avoid road-clogging bottlenecks at passenger pickup spots. The lots instead give drivers a place to wait until their arriving travelers call for a ride.
The lots, which are free, grew out of two trends: the explosion in cell phone usage and post-September 11th security measures that prohibit motorists from lingering outside terminals. Airport managers say the creation of the “cell phone lots” helps reduce the slow driving and illegal parking that would occur when drivers try to time their pull-ups to their passenger’s arrival. Roadside idling became such a problem in Jacksonville that officials erected barriers to force motorists to keep moving rather than pull off illegally.
The lots typically are no more than two-minute drives from the terminals and most require drivers to stay with their car. I have used the “cell phone lot” at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and found that they do come in handy when loved ones are arriving on flights with a large number of passengers. In these cases, no matter how hard you try, it is virtually impossible to calculate how long it will take for family members to make their way off the airplane and at what time they will successfully get their bag off the luggage carousel. In the end, I have found “cell phone lots” help save precious time and money.