No quick fix for airport issues, city committee told

Backlogs due to issues with a new baggage system have been prevalent, thanks to an influx of travelers. Officials are working on solutions but still suggest you arrive early at certain times.
The new baggage handling system at Palm Springs International Airport has capacity issues.

Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) has issues with its operations, especially its new baggage handling system, a city official acknowledged Wednesday while promising there is a movement afoot to bring improvements.
Driving the news: PSP Executive Director Harry Barrett appeared before the Operations, Properties and Facilities Committee Wednesday morning, reporting on a mix of short-term and long-term efforts underway to improve issues with parking, baggage, and the rental car facility.
Of particular concern for those traveling through the airport are backlogs due to issues with a new $7 million baggage system that Barrett said was stressed by an influx of travelers at the airport, one of the fastest growing in the nation.

  • Other issues that flare up during tourist season include packed parking lots and the location of the rental car facility.

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Zoom in: Issues with the automated baggage system may not be solved anytime soon, but until they are, airport staff have been lending their hands.

  • “We already have staff trained to start moving luggage manually as baggage starts to increase,” said a member of the airport’s operations department, Ramon Sanchez. “But we’re already seeing congestion, more flights are coming in, and airlines have even more scheduled in the next couple of weeks.”

  • Short of a permanent fix for the stressed system, Barrett told commissioners a city attorney is taking the lead on speaking with the baggage system’s designer to see if there’s any liability on their end and whether the city is entitled to getting some money back.

Yes, but: Though he’s optimistic, Sanchez pointed out the realities of the situation. “We foresee increasing but not meeting the demand,” he said. “We will at least decongest the front of the terminal to minimize the visual of all the bags.”

What else? Barrett said that short-term options to ease overcrowded parking lots should be presented to the committee in about two months, but it will take longer to work on the rental car situation.  

  •  Ideas on the table for parking include changing hours that overflow parking lots and shuttles are used, creating separate arrival and departure lanes, moving the taxi and Uber/Lyft area, and creating both premium and economy parking.

  • Barrett said airport officials need to be cautious about the rental car facility. “The idea is to make sure everybody’s on the same page and that if we build something, it’s going to stay there for 50 years,” he said.

Bottom line: “This airport has a history of putting a Band-Aid on problems, and we’re trying to get out of that mindset,” Barrett concluded.

  • If you have a flight between the peak hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., he recommends arriving two hours early.

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