How to avoid the long lines and crowds outside the RDU Airport terminal


Travelers walk through the parking lots at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in Morrisville on Tuesday, December 21, 2021.

Travelers walk through the parking lots at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in Morrisville on Tuesday, December 21, 2021.

If you or a loved one passes through Raleigh-Durham International Airport on vacation, be aware that some of the worst congestion will be on the road and along the sidewalk outside the terminals.

If the Thanksgiving holiday were any indication, the most important backups will be outside the lower level of Terminal 2, where arriving passengers exit the baggage claim area. Some drivers invariably arrive before their passengers are ready and take up valuable seats while they wait.

RDU offers some tips for trying to alleviate these growls. He understands:

â–ª Consider making advance arrangements to collect your arrival party outside the upper level of Terminal 2. This is normally used for departing passengers only, but RDU makes exceptions during this busy travel season. Because people don’t linger in this area, traffic often moves more easily.

â–ª Use RDU’s cell phone and wait for your inbound passengers to call when they get off the plane. The land is located at 1000 Trade Drive, near the Aviation Parkway and Airport Boulevard entrances, a short drive from the terminals.

â–ª Wait 15 minutes after someone has landed to go to the terminal to pick them up. It takes time for passengers to exit the plane, pass through the terminal, and collect checked baggage.

â–ª Pay attention to the no parking signs. RDU says there will be more police officers to direct traffic and enforce parking regulations to deter people from waiting for incoming passengers where they shouldn’t.

“People will not be able to park on John Brantley Boulevard,” said RDU spokeswoman Stephanie Hawco. “Of course, they’re never supposed to park on John Brantley Boulevard, but we’re going to enforce it strictly.”

Travelers arrive at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in Morrisville on Tuesday, December 21, 2021. Travis Long

Air travel is still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, but people are packing planes during the holidays. RDU expects 494,000 passengers to pass through the airport between December 18 and January 2, down around 15% from 2019.

Airport officials have said their busiest day of the holiday season will be Thursday, December 23, when 37,600 travelers are expected. That’s about 7,000 less than the busiest day on Thanksgiving weekend, when vacation travel is limited to a few days.

“It’s more spread over the Christmas and New Years holidays,” Hawco said. “We don’t have people who fly on the exact same days that they tend to fly on Thanksgiving. So that helps. “

For travelers parking in Economic Lot 3, remote from RDU, the airport has launched a new phone application that allows them to track the shuttles that run between the lot and the terminals. The TransLoc app can be downloaded from Apple or Google Play.

You can find information on parking at the airport, including the cost and capacity of the bridge between the terminals, at You can also use the site to reserve and pay for a parking space at least 24 hours in advance. It’s a few dollars cheaper a day, and you can guarantee a seat on the deck, even when the electronic signs around the airport indicate that the Central and Premier lots are “closed.”

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Richard Stradling covers transportation for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, as well as ferries, bicycles, scooters and quite simply on foot. Also, hospitals during the coronavirus epidemic. He has been a journalist or editor for 34 years, the last 22 of which at The N&O. 919-829-4739,


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