BWI Institutes Gotcha Fee …

Today, The Sun announced that BWI is raising the fee on what was the first free half-hour of parking in BWI to $2 for the first half hour. This a small, but significant “gotcha cost” that the airport is trying to push its operation costs on the public.

Quoting from The Sun’s article: “As of last Monday, the airport has begun charging $2 for the first two half hours and $4 per hour after that in the daily lot. An airport spokesman said BWI officials made the change to help raise revenue during the slow economy. The change is expected to bring $500,000 in additional revenue.

“It’s primarily a financial decision,” said Jonathan Dean, a spokesman for the airport. “During this economic downturn BWI has worked to contain costs and raise revenue where possible.””

Why am I against this and why do I care: The problem stems from the aftermath in “revamped” security post September 11 attacks, when the dynamics of picking people up changed dramatically. In the past, when picking someone up or dropping them off, the choices were many. Among them, people simply clogged up the departure lanes at the airport. After September 11th, suddenly, the airport’s police, rightfully so, began a low-tolerance policy, issuing tickets to people whose cars were standing in the lane and were either waiting for people or not moving. This includes quick towing of unattended cars. 

In the rationale, it seemed completely reasonable to give people an option of parking in the garage and avoiding the fray and if desired walking their passengers into the airport or going in to pick them up while cracking down on the lingering traffic of the departure/arrival lanes in the name of security. The free parking is a good way to continue the tradition of being the “easy come, easy go” airport. It’s sort of like getting free wi-fi at a coffee shop: a small deal, but a “thank you” so to speak. Truthfully, it might take a half-hour to get in and out of the garage, but it was a nice benefit nonetheless to feel like you didn’t have to quick someone out of your car to not spend money taking them to the airport.

I think the thing that bothersome is these small fee hikes are circumspect in dealing with the flaws in the business plan but instead make a service model more cumbersome for people.

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