PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia International Airport is ready for its busiest travel days in two years since the COVID-19 pandemic.
With its economy lot shut down, officials are urging people to not drive themselves to their flights.
"It's horrible. Especially for me at my age. I'm having an issue," said Diana Perez, who didn't know where to go after seeing the closed signs on the economy lot. "I have no idea how to get back to find another spot."
Perez ended up going to one of the airport's garages, which is expected to fill up fast.
"If you're going to drive down here, you're going to have to come really early to try and find a spot because you're going to have to look hard," said Jim Tyrrell, the chief revenue officer for PHL.
Officials say taking SEPTA or using a rideshare service may be the better way to go.
"SEPTA trains leave you right off at the entrances of the terminal. UBER, Lyft, or somebody, they can drop you off -- that's also a great option," said Heather Redfern with PHL.
The airport shut down the economy lot in March 2020, eliminating 7,000 parking spots as travel plummeted during the pandemic.
Now, however, a rush is coming. American Airlines says it's back with 92% of its pre-pandemic travel schedule, and PHL expects nearly 900,000 travelers this week.
"We are experiencing tremendous volume in travel this year," said Tyrrell.
Some who came through the airport Wednesday arrived pleasantly surprised to find getting to their gate was less stressful than anticipated.
"I was expecting it to be really crowded because it's Thanksgiving, and I was expecting many people to be traveling," said Anindata Chakradyty of Society Hill.
For travelers who do have to drive, the airport says to plan ahead.
At least two offsite parking lots are also closed. You can find a full list of options here.
"We are booked, but we're still taking walkups. So you would need to call a couple of hours ahead to see what we have available with flight delays and cancellations," said Kiara Jones, the general manager of WallyPark, a parking lot half a mile from the airport that offers a shuttle for customers.
With parking at a premium, the cost is rising too. Wallypark says it will be between $20-$30 a day to use its lot, more than double what it was before the pandemic.
Everything's going up. Food is going up, prices for parts on buses, the gas is going up, so everything takes a part in that," said Jones.
The airport suggests that people driving themselves to their flights arrive three hours early to leave time to find a spot.