Raleigh-Durham International Airport parking employee Tanya Brown enters vehicle license numbers into a handheld computer that keeps track of which car is parked in which space in which lot. The airport conducts a census of its parking lots every night, in part so it can help travelers find their cars if they forgot where they parked. Staff N&O file photo
Raleigh-Durham International Airport parking employee Tanya Brown enters vehicle license numbers into a handheld computer that keeps track of which car is parked in which space in which lot. The airport conducts a census of its parking lots every night, in part so it can help travelers find their cars if they forgot where they parked. Staff N&O file photo

Business

Lost your car at RDU? The airport knows where it is.

By Richard Stradling

rstradling@newsobserver.com

December 22, 2017 12:49 PM

MORRISVILLE

You’ve just returned from a long trip when you realize that you can’t remember where you parked your car at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Fortunately, the airport knows.

That’s because every night, as you were sleeping in some distant city, a crew of airport workers has been tracking where every car and truck is parked in its massive parking garage and its satellite lots.

There are 19,277 public parking spaces at RDU, including 11,492 in the garage between the two terminals. Every day, people make it known to the airport’s parking staff that they’ve forgotten where they left their car, said airport spokesman Andrew Sawyer.

“Because we have an inventory, we can escort them to the exact space where they parked,” Sawyer said. “Also, it helps us quickly resolve lost ticket issues by understanding the number of days a car is in the garage.”

On one of the busiest days of holiday travel, those arriving at RDU International Airport were greeted by family and friends and the holiday sounds from the band “Southern Routes” with their jazzy version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on Frida

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The nightly census is done manually, with portable devices that record the type of vehicle and its license number. Depending on how many spots are filled, it takes a small army of workers several hours to do the count, working on foot and in vehicles.

Weekday travelers are more likely to use the Premier and Central lots in the garage, while weekend and leisure travelers will opt for the cheaper park-and-ride lots, Sawyer said. Over the holidays, it’s not uncommon for the airport’s satellite Economy 3 and Economy 4 lots to reach capacity, he said.

Lost your car? You can find members of RDU’s parking staff in the garage or contact them by stopping at the Guest Services desk in the terminal or by calling 919-840-2140.

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling