SRQ Airport opens new Cell Phone Lot and welcomes another new route

Cell Phone Lot has 124 paved spaces at 1180 Rental Car Road

This aerial map shows the location of the new Cell Phone Lot; it is marked with a red balloon. Image from Google Maps

On Friday, Aug. 11, the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority (SMAA) announced the opening of the “new and improved Cell Phone Lot at the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport.”

That news came just a day after Avelo Airlines announced that it will begin a third nonstop route from SRQ. This one will fly to the Wilmington, Delaware, Airport (ILG), the company said.

The new Cell Phone Lot is located at 1180 Rental Car Road, directly across from the previous, temporary location, an SRQ news release says. The facility “offers easy access from Old Bradenton Road or the main airport entrance off University Parkway,” the release adds. The Cell Phone Lot consists of 124 paved parking spaces, five of which are handicap-accessible; along with restrooms and vending machines, the release notes.

Moreover, the lot “is well lit with LED lighting and secured with fencing, the release points out. Further, two 8-foot by 16-foot flight information screens are scheduled to be installed within the next six months; they will provide updated information on flight arrival times, the release notes. In the interim, the users of the facility can find flight information on the airport website or by downloading the AeroCloud app, the release adds.

“To maintain a smooth flow of vehicular traffic when dropping off or picking up passengers, the airport requires all vehicles to be loading or unloading while parked curbside in front of the terminal,” the release points out. The new Cell Phone Lot, “located only a minute’s drive from the terminal,” provides a convenient location for drivers to wait with their vehicles to wait until their travelers’ flights have landed and they are notified by cell phone that their passengers are ready to be picked up, the release continues.

Rick Piccolo, president and CEO of the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport said in the release, “The new Cell Phone Lot will offer the amenities necessary to ease the process of waiting for arriving passengers at SRQ. We encourage all airport patrons to use this new lot, or park in our short-term parking lot, when picking up passengers at the airport.”

During a June 9, 2022 presentation to members of the Sarasota County Tourist Development Council (TDC), Piccolo explained that, among other upcoming construction plans at that point, work would begin later that month on a new paved parking lot in the area of University Parkway and Old Bradenton Road.

In close proximity to that facility, he continued, SRQ would spend about $2 million to create the Cell Phone Lot. During that presentation, he reported that it had been designed with 152 paved spaces, restrooms and a board showing when flights have landed, so drivers waiting there would know when to proceed to the terminal to pick up passengers.

Image courtesy Sarasota County

As for the Avelo Airlines news: Avelo officials characterized the Wilmington, Delaware, airport as “a convenient and travel-friendly alternative to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)” for persons heading to Philadelphia and the greater Delaware Valley region.

Avelo is the first and only airline to offer this nonstop service between Philadelphia/Delaware Valley and SRQ, the airline pointed out.

Its other nonstop flights from SRQ go to what the company called “Southern Connecticut’s most convenient airport, Tweed-New Haven Airport (HVN),” and Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) in North Carolina.

The SRQ/ILG service is scheduled to start on Nov. 2, Avelo said; it will be offered twice a week — on Thursdays and Sundays, utilizing Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft.

Avelo was founded with a vision to help its customers save money and time,” that news release added. “Since taking flight on April 28, 2021,” the release noted, Avelo has flown nearly 3 million passengers on more than 20,000 flights. The airline serves 47 destinations; they are in 25 states plus Puerto Rico.