South Carolina Airport to Add Valet Parking Service

Jan. 31--Valet parking is coming to the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.

When the valet service begins -- the airport is aiming for March 1 -- passengers will be able to drive up to the terminal and leave their keys with a valet who will park the vehicle, then retrieve it upon the passenger's return.

Cost will be $15 a day.

In adding this service, GSP joins the ranks of other airports around the region. Columbia, Charleston and Charlotte, N.C., all offer valet parking at rates ranging from $14 to $19 a day.

"What we're finding is, valet parking is growing in popularity and it's all around," said Roger Milliken, chairman of the airport's board of directors.

"It's a very much modern service for people that are in a hurry."

Passenger Peter Brandt, who works for BMW and travels frequently for business, said valet parking would appeal to him if he received enough convenience to make the extra cost worthwhile.

Is it worth the money?

At his home airport, O'Hare International in Chicago, Brandt said it takes up to 30 minutes to get to his car from the airport terminal. But at a smaller airport like GSP, Brandt wondered whether passengers would find the service worth the money.

"I don't know if this airport is big enough," he said.

Officials at the Charleston International Airport wondered the same thing when it added valet service in 2004, said Susan Stevens, deputy director of airports for the Charleston County Aviation Authority.

But the service caught on fast with a variety of travelers, Stevens said.

"It became very popular very quickly," she said.

"It's people with children who have a lot of luggage. It's the business traveler. Females traveling alone seem to like it."

At any given time about 100 cars are valet-parked overnight at the airport, Stevens said.

At Charlotte Douglas International Airport, valet parking is $19 a day -- significantly more than the airport's daily and long-term parking options, which cost $6 and $3 a day, respectively,

Despite the expense, the valet parking has been "very well received" by customers, according to Will Plentl, the airport's deputy director.

In other business at GSP, the board:

-- Voted to raise daily and economy parking rates effective March 1. Daily rates will go up to $10 a day, and the economy rates will go up to $10 a day. Short-term parking rates will remain unchanged at $12 a day.

-- Authorized Republic Parking Co. to purchase and install new gate arms, computers and other revenue control equipment in the airport's public parking lots.

The cost will be $193,543, which Republic will recoup through the increase in parking fees.

-- Approved Hudson News' plans to expand and renovate its gift shop. Hudson will expand into the space across the hall that now is used as a regional art gallery. In that space, the retailer will add children's gift items and $10 gift items. Hudson News also plans to renovate its existing shop. Total cost for the renovation and expansion is $116,000.