If Southwest had its way, Delta couldn’t even park its planes at Love Field…
Dallas Love Field has undergone explosive growth since the repeal of the Wright Amendment in October, 2014. Though most of the press has been focused on airline growth – Southwest and Virgin America will combine for 200 flights a day by the end of summer – an infrastructure problem has been getting more and more acute as the number of flights increase. That problem is parking, as Love Field’s existing two garages are simply inadequate to handle the influx of traffic. Particularly at peak periods such as holidays, the city has had to warn travelers not to bring their vehicles to the airport because no parking spots were available. I haven’t run into this problem, but have heard from a couple of friends and co-workers who have been left SOL because the garages are full on the weekends, and I have to imagine the issue will get worse over the summer as the number of passengers increases.
Temporary help is on the way, however. According to the Airline Biz Blog’s Terry Maxon, Southwest Airlines is partnering with ride sharing service Lyft to offer discounts on Lyft service to and from Love Field. A code will apparently be included on Southwest boarding passes and confirmation e-mails to provide passengers up to $10 off the cost of a Lyft ride to and from the airport (I’m not sure if you’ll be given a code if you’re originating outside of Dallas, but assuming you do, the discount will work for an airport pickup). In case you’re wondering how Lyft can operate to and from DAL, both the city of Dallas and the DFW Airport Board recently modified their policies to allow ride sharing services, including Uber and Lyft, to legally operate to and from either airport, provided that they institute the same airport pickup/drop-off surcharge that are required of taxi drivers. This will undoubtedly help, especially if you are coming from downtown Dallas or other closer-in neighborhoods. I’ve used Uber to get to meetings a couple of miles north of Love Field, and a ride generally runs $10-12 from downtown as long as surge pricing isn’t in effect. That suggests around $15 to the aiport with the surcharge included, before discounts. Even at the full price, a round trip is cheaper than parking in the garage if your trip is going to last more than 2 days.
Ultimately, though, this is only a stopgap measure. Maxon also reports that Love Field traffic was up a whopping 55.9% year-over-year in April, and updated projections suggest the airport could see 8 million passenger enplanements a year by 2020. That compares to approximately 4.7 million enplanements for the full year 2014. The airport won’t be able to Uber or Lyft its way out of that problem, but don’t fret – the Dallas Morning News reports that the city is planning a $181 million project to construct a new 5,130-space parking garage on airport property, along with space for an adjacent airport hotel. The bad news is the garage isn’t scheduled to open until 2018, so the next three years or so promises to be tight. Of course, the ultimate fix would be the construction of the automated people mover from the Inwood-Love Field Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) station to the terminal, but that’s apparently not on the menu in my lifetime.
The bottom line is, before you leave home, check the Love Field website for parking space status. If you’re in a hurry and the garages and Parking Spot are full, taking a Lyft car to the terminal probably is the best way to go with the discount. In case you aren’t flying Southwest and/or a $10 coupon doesn’t do it for you, Uber also now operates to DAL, and feel free to use my promo code: ttwfo. It’s good for a free ride up to $20 (anywhere Uber goes, not just to or from Love Field). If you have the time and don’t mind a connection or two, you can also take a Lyft or Uber to the nearest DART Light Rail station to the Inwood-Love Field Station and hop the shuttle from there ($2.50 for a DART ticket, plus the Lyft or Uber fare). Or if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can park at Inwood-Love Field Station and take the shuttle from there. DART does permit overnight and long-term parking at all of its park and ride facilities at no charge. Just beware that the lot is unsecured and isn’t in the best part of town.