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What Are Cell Phone Waiting Lots & What Are They For?

Learn about cell phone waiting lots and what they're for. Typically reserved for rideshare drivers, these can be used by regular drivers too.

Key Takeaways

  • Cell phone lots reduce airport congestion, offering a designated waiting area for drivers.
  • Globally recognized, these lots are available at various airports, enhancing pickup efficiency.
  • Amenities like vending machines and free usage make waiting comfortable and cost-effective.
  • Usage rules ensure short-term waiting, though challenges exist in promoting awareness and signage.

What is a Cell Phone Waiting Lot?

Cell phone waiting lots are specific lots near airports, usually within a minute or two from the terminals, that have been designed and built to alleviate congestion at airport arrival sections.

By providing a designated area for drivers to wait, these lots prevent unnecessary circling around the airport and unsafe parking practices – such as illegal parking on highway shoulders – facilitating smoother traffic flow and enhancing safety around terminals.

Brett’s Take: Thoughts From an Expert

I frequently pick family and friends up from the airport. Since I like to arrive early, my go-to spot to wait is the cell phone waiting lot. These spots provide me a safe and clean spot that is very close to the airport.

Instead of having to aimlessly drive around until I get a call or text that my passenger’s flight has arrived, I simply wait at the lot. When I get that call or text, I’m only about 30 seconds away.

Which Airports Have Cell Phone Waiting Lots?

Many airports across the United States, from Austin–Bergstrom International Airport to Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, have implemented cell phone lots.

However, the concept of cell phone waiting lots is not limited to the United States. Airports in countries like Canada and Argentina, including Toronto Pearson and Ministro Pistarini International Airport, also offer these lots.

Despite their benefits, some airports face challenges in promoting cell phone lots and providing clear signage.

Ensuring drivers are aware of these lots and can easily find them is crucial for their effectiveness, highlighting the need for better signage and awareness campaigns.

Facilities and Amenities at Airport Waiting Lots

In my experience, airport waiting lots are typically just an open parking lot. However, some do offer small conveniences like vending machines and flight information displays.

From an operations standpoint, airports don’t really want to encourage people to wait there for long, so they provide them with a place to park but little else.

But, in cases like flight delays, it is important to also keep a fair balance of offering basic amenities while still figuring out the operational efficiency aspect.

Rules to Keep in Mind While Using Cell Phone Waiting Lots

Cell phone lots typically have operational rules, such as a maximum waiting time (often around 60 minutes) and restrictions against unattended vehicles.

These guidelines ensure the lots are used as intended, for short-term waiting, and help maintain order and accessibility for all users.

The last thing that airports want is to offer a free and convenient waiting lot and then have people start treating it like a no-cost parking option.

To solve this, they’ll typically tow vehicles left there unattended, but do a good job of placing signage throughout the lot to make it very clear what the lot is intended to be used for and what happens if drivers break the rules.

Staying Safe While Using Airport Waiting Lots

While using airport waiting lots, I would suggest exercising a huge amount of caution.

There usually isn’t a ton of crime since these lots are usually monitored by the airport police. However, whenever you have a ton of people distractedly sitting in their vehicles, the chance of a mugging or robbery goes up substantially.

I see far too many people taking the “cell phone waiting lot” too seriously – sitting and waiting on their phones. At a minimum keep your doors locked and windows rolled up.

Some additional things to keep in mind as you wait:

  1. Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Recognize that parked cars can serve as hiding spots for potential attackers. They may conceal themselves behind or under vehicles, waiting for unsuspecting victims.
  2. Stay Alert: Avoid distractions such as listening to music, texting, or talking on your phone while sitting in your car. Continuously scan your surroundings and the path to your vehicle to remain vigilant.
  3. Carry a Defensive Tool: Equip yourself with pepper spray, mace, a whistle, a personal security alarm, or even your keys. These can be used to distract or defend against an attacker if necessary.
  4. Avoid Conversations with Strangers: If someone you do not know approaches you in a parking lot, it’s safer to avoid engaging with them. It’s better to come off as unfriendly or impolite than to risk becoming a victim of a crime.

For those who are particularly safety-conscious, consider choosing your parking spot wisely (with a clear, unblocked escape route), backing into your parking space (ideally trying to limit the open space behind you) and unbuckling your seat belt until your vehicle is moving.

Stay safe out there, and enjoy everything that cell phone waiting lots have to offer.

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