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Hacking the Philadelphia International Airport: Tips and tricks for traveling through the PHL

With plummeting gas prices and increased confidence in the economy, experts expect the highest Thanksgiving travel levels since 2007 — including through the air. (That’s despite the Nor’easter that has many predicting massive delays, whether by air, rail or car).

But guess what? The ol’ Philadelphia International Airport can be a breeze to get through if you know the right tips and tricks. Here’s how to survive the holiday travel madness:

Getting there

There are a few ways you can get to PHL efficiently if you don’t want to take your own ride and have to park and store it at the airport. Uber Black offers flat rates to and from the airport: $35 for airport-Navy Yard travel, $45 for Center City and $55 for anything north of Vine Street.

The Go Airport Shuttle also offers shared rides from Center City to the airport for about $45. City cabs offer a flat rate that starts at $28.50 to go from the airport to Center City. Find of the rest of the cab rates here.

Or you could save and take trusty ol’ SEPTA’s Airport Line. Fares will be much cheaper, but will depend on what zone you leave from. Click here for information.

Parking there

Good news! You can park your car for free!… if you’re down with randos driving it while you’re away. Newsworks reported last week that San Franciso-based Flight Car, a “peer-to-peer” rental service, launched in Philly. This means that you can avoid $11-a-day parking (the airport’s cheapest price in the economy lot) but anyone who can pass a driver history test and is over 18 can rent out your ride.

Decide you don’t want a stranger taking your baby for a spin? No worries. Our friends at Philly Mag have some handy PHL tips, including that you shouldn’t believe those “available spaces” signs in the parking garages. According to Gene Marks, “The system’s accuracy is questionable at best… I’ve driven hundreds of times around Garages B and C, and rest assured I don’t care what the flashing sign says: There are not 10 available spaces in that row!”

But, Marks did offer this gem of advice: “Journey to the fourth floor of Garage B. Despite what the signs tell you, there’s always a spot.”

There’s also this super-handy Winner Airport Parking Service that claims to save you 40 minutes of travel time. Get the White Glove service and provide your credit card to them when you arrive at PHL. They’ll drive you to where you need to be in your own car, drop you off, park it for you and then will come pick you up when you get back. You can get the service for a one-time charge of $13.99.

If you’re just swinging through to pick someone up but you’re a bit early, the airport does have a new cell phone waiting area with free parking for 150 vehicles, but you’ll have to stay in your car if you want to chill there. You can access the lot by getting off I-95 and entering the airport on the Arriving Flights roadway. From there, follow signs to the cell phone waiting lot.

Getting through 

Go at down times to zip through security

Check out Philadelphia airport approximate security wait times here, courtesy of iFly.com.

Don’t go through security twice

USA Today points out that if you walk to or from Terminal F, you’ll have to go through security again to access the other terminals. Instead, use the post-security check shuttle service available to and from Terminal F at Gates F-10, C-16, and A-1.

You can… exercise?

If you’re getting a little antsy ahead of your flight, the airport offers little electronic bikes for you to ride and spin off some steam. If you’re into that sort of thing.

And then when you’re done, you can sleep

Here’s a happy ranking: Lifehack came up with some of the best tips for sleeping in airports, and PHL is on the list of the top 15 airports in the U.S. if you need to sleep over — we’re no. 13.  According to Lifehack, terminals B and C “have well-padded seating without armrests that offer a comfortable snooze spot.”

Looking for a rental car? Avoid the suffering

If you’re flying into PHL to Terminals E or F and need to take an annoying shuttle to get to the rental car offices, fear not! There is an alternative. The Hipmunk blog outlines exactly how savvy travelers get to the rental car office without hopping on the shuttle. They recommend totally bypassing the vans, walking along the sidewalk and then through a grassy area. Check it out for detailed directions.

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