Spokane International Airport is going uptown.
A new valet parking service opened at the terminal Tuesday for the convenience of Christmas travelers and will end Saturday night.
For $6.50 a day, an attendant will whisk away your car for safe keeping until you return. For an extra $9, you can have it washed and vacuumed. Of course, tips are extra.
But are Spokane passengers ready for such extravagance?
By mid-morning, only five customers had pulled into the new service, located in the left-hand lane in front of the airline departure counters.
Two valet customers were from Montana. Both of them ordered the car wash, too, said attendant Paul Hassett.
“They want to feel like they are in the big city,” joked Hassett.
Airport officials said they aren’t surprised the service had few takers on Tuesday. They were averaging about one an hour.
It’s the first time the airport has tried valet parking, so most travelers probably don’t know it’s available, they said. The service is available at airports in other cities.
“This is an experiment,” said Todd Woodard, an airport spokesman.
Valet parking will be available for departing passengers from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Saturday night. Passengers returning to Spokane can pick up their cars when they arrive.
The service is being offered through Budget Car and Truck Rental, which parks the vehicles in a locked lot near the terminal.
Airport Director John Morrison said parking at the airport is getting more crowded during peak holiday periods since the arrival of low-cost fares a few years ago.
The holiday valet service simplifies the chore of parking, especially for passengers arriving late, he said, and it frees up slots in other parking lots at the airport.
“It’s an added convenience,” Morrison said. “It’s only a buck more.”
Parking in the covered garage across from the terminal costs $5.50 a day. An economy lot nearby is $3.50 a day.
Travelers using the valet service simply pull into the lane marked with valet parking signs, and then give the attendants their names, addresses, telephone numbers, scheduled flights and, of course, their keys.
Returning passengers pick up their keys at the Budget rental counter after their cars are brought to the parking area just outside the baggage claim area.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo