Construction set to begin on 520 new parking spaces at Chattanooga Airport
Big changes are coming to the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, where recently the authority approved construction for 520 additional parking spaces.
Soon, passengers will no longer have to circle the lot looking for a place to park.
Construction for the new economy parking lot begins in January and is expected to open by the end of March.
Two free shuttles will provide connection to the terminal, with pickups every 7-10 minutes.
It's a service, passengers like Cady Pannell said cannot come soon enough. Her hands are full with luggage, a backpack and a cellphone; luckily she doesn't have to carry all of this very far when she flies out of Chattanooga.
"I love the convenience of it, it's 15 minutes from downtown and it's super easy to get through security and quick," Pannell said.
Others have caught on, and passenger boardings continue to rise each year at CHA. This year, Chattanooga Airport President Terry Hart said plans are set to begin to add more than 500 parking spaces.
"On airport road adjacent to our current overflow lot, which will provide shuttles to and from the terminal building," Hart explained.
Some passengers agree parking is one of the main challenges they face when flying out of the Scenic City.
"It's super crowded, but I think just in general that's a big problem at airports," said Amanda Smith, flying out of Chattanooga.
"I typically leave my car here for the convenience and it can get a little congested. Usually, the early morning flight helps avoid it a little bit though," Pannell added.
Pannell is flying to Oregon for work, she said flying out of Chattanooga is much cheaper.
We compared a three-day trip to Portland, Oregon and here are the estimated costs:
At Chattanooga, you will pay a little more for the flight than in Atlanta or Nashville. However, once you factor in gas, parking and most importantly, your time, Chattanooga is the clear choice.
"You'd probably save $300 it's a huge difference," Smith said.
Hart said Chattanooga is exceeding its expected growth and they plan to do more after building the economy lot.
"That's big for us because that's the interim step we have to take before I build the parking deck," he said.
For business or for fun, traveling can be a headache. It's why Pannell is looking forward to more options next time she flies.
"With how much growth Chattanooga is experiencing, I feel like airport congestion can only get worse, so I think it's awesome they're taking a proactive approach," Pannell said.
Once construction begins, the airport is encouraging everyone to use ride-sharing apps, taxis or hotel shuttles.
The board also approved a parking rate raise that will go into effect next year. This is the first time the airport has raised its rates in six years.