WITH FEWER PEOPLE boarding airplanes during the pandemic, shuttle lots around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are awfully empty these days.

ShuttlePark2, my family’s go-to lot when we travel, is no exception. 

Oscar Garcia, the company’s general manager, says in normal times, three or four vans would be in service. Today, all but one are sitting idle by the entrance. And he is the driver on duty.

“It’s been a struggle. If people don’t travel, we don’t exist,” says Garcia, who had to lay off half of his 30 employees and apply for a Payroll Protection Program loan to keep the 24-hour business afloat.

“March 13 was the last day we were at 80% capacity,” he adds, recalling a painful timeline since the pandemic started. “In all April, we had 30 cars in the lot … we can park 1,050 cars. Today, we have 135,” he says after returning from the first run of the day, hours after he had arrived to work.

So many of our family vacations over the years have been bookended by rides from ShuttlePark2. I wish we were here again, readying for an afternoon trip to Spain, perhaps. Who knew I would miss a parking lot so much?