AirportStudy bf 0089.jpg

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Welcome to Baton Rouge sign in front of the terminal at Metro Airport.

Advocate file photo by BILL FEIG < p>

The Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport is planning a free "cell phone lot" for people coming to pick up passenger — a type of waiting area that has become more and more common across the country.

Marketing Manager Jim Caldwell said the airport plans to pave over a grassy patch of land on the airport's extensive property to build the lot. And while its named purpose will be for family, friends and Uber drivers picking up travelers at the airport, Caldwell said, it will also offer great views of planes taking off and landing for those interested in watching.

Airport leaders should approach the Metro Council later this month with a proposal to fund the parking lot, as they apply for a state grant to help pay for it. The cell phone lot is expected to cost $500,000, with the airport expecting the state to chip in 10 percent of the funding.

"It's become a pretty common thing at airports and we thought, we have that land, it's not being used," Caldwell said.

The Baton Rouge Airport generates its own revenue and does not depend on general fund or tax money from the city-parish. The airport hiked its parking rates in 2016 to help pay for $5.1 million in upgrades to its parking garages.

Follow Andrea Gallo on Twitter, @aegallo.​