Yes, its 2018 and I want to talk about cell phone lots at airports. Specifically about folks that prefer the highway curb over cell phone lots, to wait for the arrival of their loved ones.

What are Cell Phone Lots?

Cell Phone lots are free parking lots, built close to airports, where people can wait before picking up passengers from arrivals. Its called a cell phone lot because most people that are parked there are waiting for a phone call from their loved ones, once they have picked up their baggage.

My experience

Generally speaking, cell phone lots help alleviate the frustrations of circling airports. However, if you are not well acquainted with the airport area or are new to the concept of cell phone lots, the obscure and tiny signage can be a challenge. On a recent trip to Toronto, I was baffled at the lack of signage – took me two rounds to finally figure my way to the parking lot. Most of the signage were either tiny or placed outside the line of vision. One wrong turn, and I was out on the highway again.

Cell Phone Lots

Cell Phone Lots at Ottawa International Airport – Easy to miss tiny signage!

Which brings me to the most annoying aspect of cell phone lots – people that don’t use them! Each time I looped around to the Toronto arrivals terminal, I came upon a line-up of cars parked on the shoulder of the on/off ramps!! Do they not know about cell phone lots? It was a disaster waiting to happen, with cars coming off the highway ramps into airport terminals.

While cell phone lots are pretty standard at North American airports, not every country has latched on to the concept. My mind raced to other homeland, India, where its customary for people to ignore rules and park on curbs outside the airports, waiting for a phone call to pick up arriving members. At least in their case, free parking lots are not a thing, yet (not an excuse to park illegally).

Are cell phone lots an under appreciated airport perk? Is enough done to promote their existence?

Take Away

For airports that have cell phone parking lots, two things need to happen right away;

  • Better signage and promotion
  • Better policing around airports, especially towards rogue drivers parked on/off shoulders.

And for airports that do not – Get with it, its 2018!