Jackson Hole Airport parking maxed by ‘busiest’ Christmas
By Mark Huffman, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
December 28, 2012
Jackson Hole Airport had an unexpected flood of business over Christmas week and felt the worst of it in the parking lot.
“It’s the busiest Christmas I’ve seen in 10 years,” Airport Director Ray Bishop said. “We got crushed everywhere.”
Because of the unpredictability of winter flying, the airport at one point Saturday “had two aircraft come in late, so we had four big airplanes land within five minutes with over 900 people,” Bishop said.
Airport staff kept things moving inside. But outside, starting Saturday, it was hard on people driving in.
Among those who told the Jackson Hole Daily about parking woes was Jackson Councilman-elect Jim Stan-ford, who was dropped off at the airport Dec. 23.
“I observed cars being towed, cars with local plates, and I felt sorry for those people,” Stanford said. “If you drive up and there’s no place to park, you have no choice, you have to get on that airplane.”
It’s not unknown for people to abandon their cars, figuring they’ll pay the cost of a tow instead of losing their airfare. Some cars were towed over the weekend in those circumstances, Bishop said. But, he said, when cars are parked illegally, it’s airport policy just to move them, without charge to the owner.
The airport has 390 public parking spaces in front of the terminal. But many people flying out park their cars and leave them until they return, filling many spaces. In the past week, Bishop said, the airport started several days with only 60 open spaces.
About 100 spaces normally used by employees were added to the mix over the weekend, Bishop said, by having workers park farther away toward the south. Even those spaces filled quickly, he said.
Bishop speculated that good snow conditions influenced skiers to choose Jackson Hole for their vacations.
Stanford supports public bus service to the airport “at least during peak times.” Bishop said that might help but noted that most people are going to drive or take a taxi rather than drag their luggage to a bus stop.
The airport was “still pretty busy” Thursday, Bishop said, but not overwhelmed.
“Christmas is over, the situation is better today,” he said. “We’re on the backside of the problem.”