Parking At Fort Lauderdale Airport? You Are In For A (Mostly Good) Surprise

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 9.12.30 AMFORT LAUDERDALE, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — We told you several weeks ago about the complete breakdown of the Fort Lauderdale Airport’s Sunpass system — creating massive delays on top of ongoing construction issues. Simply put: there are few things more annoying than flying cross country, only to be stuck at the airport because the parking exit system is suffering a computer problem.

But what a difference a few weeks makes.

Fort Lauderdale — which has somehow managed to miss the upgrades and enhancements that many other major airports have undergone in the past decade —  is finally in the midst of a revitalization. The parking garage is ground zero.

Travelers who use the airport infrequently — but have experienced the construction problems over the past few years — are in for a treat this Thanksgiving holiday. You’ll immediately notice digital signs as you enter the airport complex. The bright, easy to read signs report how many spaces are available on each level of each garage.

And they work.

As you enter the garages you’ll notice LED lighting on the ceiling over each space — red indicates a space is taken, green says “hey, you can park right here.”

Disney just installed the same system in its new Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) parking complex. It reduces the need to circle the garage.

Airport officials tell us the most impressive addition is just a few weeks away: the ability to reserve a space online, completely eliminating the need to troll at all. If your space is 278A, it will be awaiting your arrival. There’s an app for that, too.

Valet parking has returned to the pre 9/11 system. Yes, it took nearly 15 years for FLL to again allow curbside drop-off. Learn more about it here. The cost is $25 a day, but it’s as door-to-door as you can expect while flying commercial. Cars using the valet service are now parked above the car rental center, opening up what we estimate to be hundreds of spaces in the Palm garage.

Still a problem: the skybridge walkways from the Palm Garage into the main terminals. They remain under construction, creating what we believe to be a horribly managed situation by both the airport and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. We’re being kind by not publishing photos of deputies just standing around their cars — or sitting in their cars — as travelers attempt to cross the main driveway from the Palm garage into the airport. It’s a giant game of Frogger, and sometimes passengers die. We believe there should be nothing less than a massive show of speed-control force on both levels of the airport driveway. The current situation is inexcusable.

On the SunPass front, we encourage you to resist the urge. The SunPass system at Fort Lauderdale airport is buggy and not ready for prime time despite a few years of being in place. Sometimes it works. Often it doesn’t. The potential savings of a few seconds upon exit isn’t worth the potential 20 minute delay when the system experiences a problem and the non-English speaking parking attendant has to manually write down your SunPass number, call SunPass operations, determine when you entered the garage, manually enter it into a computer system, then start the process of charging your card. Take a ticket instead.

Despite these quirks — which we believe are being resolved — we whole heartedly say “focus on the positive.”  the airport parking experience is a massive upgrade from the past few years, and is unquestionably getting better.

PRICING: General parking in the Palm and Hibiscus garage: $15. Valet parking: $25 curbside. Official parking website: click here.

 

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