RSW facing parking challenges as holiday travel reaches its peak

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
RSW traffic
Credit; WINK news

If you are heading out of town for the holidays, you may want to change your plans and find a different way to RSW. The parking situation at the airport is complicated.

The airport is working towards a significant expansion, but the initial stage doesn’t include additional parking.

The port authority recommends you find a ride to the airport or waste a lot of time looking for a space.

In a post on Facebook, RSW said:

As of 4:15 pm on Monday, Dec. 20, we are currently experiencing heavy parking volumes and cannot guarantee a parking space as we move into the busiest days for holiday travel. If you can get a ride with family or friends or use commercial transportation, that should be an option, especially starting Wednesday, Dec. 22 through Monday, Dec. 27.

Expect a repeat of Thanksgiving when the lots were full and cars parked on the grass.

“Thanksgiving was the busiest we’ve ever seen in our lots since we’ve opened the terminal,” said the port authority’s Barbara Anne Urrutia.

The December holiday rush could be worse.

Urrutia said lots of people want to come to Southwest Florida. “We know our seats and our numbers are up from December 2019 by 7%. People have had the pent-up demand for seeing their friends and family for the holidays and we think the holidays falling on weekends is probably a factor.”

The airport is in the midst of a three-year terminal expansion project. $331 million to consolidate the checkpoints and handle more passengers. What’s not in the plan, more parking for those passengers.

Marylu DiLorenzo of Naples said, “that worries me. I was thinking about that driving how that’s going to be an issue. They should get a plan before they expand definitely.”

Urrutia said more parking is in the 5-10 year plan when RSW adds more gates. After what they saw at Thanksgiving, Urrutia said, “we already are in the planning phases for coming up with a nearby and remote parking lot situation and maybe reservation system for next thanksgiving and holiday time.”

WINK News asked the port authority which days they expect to be the busiest. They said this Thursday and Sunday, then following Monday and Thursday.

Their advice is to get a ride, and if you can’t get a ride, show up early.

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