Parking is a nightmare right now at Atlanta airport -- but that could soon change

ATLANTA — If you’re flying out of Atlanta for summer vacation, you may need to plan ahead if you plan to drive to the airport.

The crowds have returned and parking is at a premium.

Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach was at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, where lots anywhere near the terminal were full on Friday.

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Even the overflow west parking deck is full.

Car after car was being turned away by workers and cones.

“I tried to park at the South, but they said it was completely full,” one passenger said. “I’ve been flying about 15 - 20 years and never experienced this before, ever.”

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Luckily, starting tomorrow, there will be some relief. The park-and-ride lots, which have been closed since the pandemic started, will reopen around 7,500 spaces.

The shuttles and buses that have sat idle for over a year will be up and running again.

Passenger Brianna Miller was happy to hear that news, since she said she had been driving around for an hour and a half trying to find a parking spot.

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“It’s crazy,” Miller said. “I’m going to miss my flight, probably.”

Other passengers advised to not even bother trying the airport, but instead to go directly to some of the off-site private lots along Camp Creek Parkway that provide shuttles to the airport.

“Leave real early,” one passenger said. “It’s going to be a monster trying to find a parking space.”

Darrick and Gwen Sealy, who were leaving for their 25th anniversary trip, said they got to the airport about four hours early and needed a lot of that time because they couldn’t find parking anywhere near the terminal. They welcomed the news of the reopened lots.

“They better, because this is insane!” Sealy said. “They say get here two hours before, but it should be three hours now.”

More than 2 million passengers went through security checkpoints Thursday, which is the third time in a week the traffic has hit that mark.

The number of passengers is still about a half a million off of the peak summer flying numbers from 2019, before the pandemic began.