What to do in the event of an airport parking fine: Your rights

  • 24 Aug, 2021
  • Alice Fowler

airport parking fines

It is unlikely that you will incur a parking fine when using a long-term airport car park, provided you have given the correct information when booking. These car parks charge per 24-hour period, so it is unlikely, even if your flight is delayed, that you will have overstayed your welcome.

In extenuating circumstances, such as the case of the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud a couple of years ago, which meant many passengers returned days late from their holiday, a common-sense approach was adopted by the vast majority of car park operators

As far as short-term parking goes, most car parks operate a pay on exit system meaning that even if the person you are picking up is delayed for hours you will not incur a parking fine.

When could I get an airport parking fine?

Most airport parking fines are incurred when dropping off or picking up passengers without using the short-term car park, and stories abound of drivers being hit with punitive fines for stopping on approach roads. Automatic number plate recognition technology makes it easy for the operator to monitor your comings and goings.

Many airports provide a drop-off zone and charge a fee of a few pounds for a short stop. If you decide to leave your car to help your passenger in to the terminal or overstay the allotted time, then fines of £80 are commonplace. At other airports it is forbidden to stop at all, and if you should grind to a halt briefly to read a notice, for instance, you can expect to be faced with a fine.

However, nowadays, most airports employ private parking companies and thus, their parking fines rules are applied. But this rule relies on the majority of the people not knowing the difference between the two and end up paying up the fine regardless. Airports tend to do this as they generate revenue from employing these private parking firms to police the parking at the airport. Therefore, if you’re ever fined, it is most likely from the private parking company. Yet, legally, these parking firms have no jurisdiction as the only bodies allowed to issue fines are the police and councils. Thus, in reality, they are not legally able to ‘fine’ you and indeed are even prohibited from using the word “penalty” on their notices.

PARKING Charge notices and PENALTY Charge Notices – they are different!

They do their best though to dress their notices up to look like official Penalty Charge Notices, even using the same initial letters, PCN, standing in this case for Parking Charge Notice (PCN). Some even go as far as using the word “enforcement” even although there are legally no powers of enforcement.

These so-called PCNs are in fact invoices for payment for breaching the parking company’s terms and conditions. The relationship between parking company and motorist is governed by contract law, and in cases where the terms and conditions are broken, the parking company can only claim the actual loss of revenue rather than the huge sums demanded by some.

airport parking fine

Therefore, be sure to check out what it actually states in the notice because if it is stated by a private firm, you may be able to ignore it. In the majority of the cases, the only way they can make you pay is by taking you to a claims court. So, if the fine wasn’t much and it’s less than their court fees, they might not bother! However, please read it properly because the notice is in conjunction with local council, they are able to enforce it. This means some airports have local byelaws which give them the power to give out fines under the authority of local council rules. Therefore, if the airport parking company can prove you’ve breached the byelaws, you will have to pay. So, read the notice carefully before taking any action.

The Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) was introduced in 2012 to help customers deals with non-council related parking fines. POPLA governs appeals from people who have been given a fine for parking on private land. However, they will only take your case if your appeal has been rejected by the parking firm first. POPLA is an independent body; they are not affiliated with any operators. If you are successful in your appeal with them, your charges can be cancelled. However, if POPLA disagree, then you would have to pay the fine and if you refuse, the parking firm could take you to a claims court.

Appealing with POPLA

you can appeal with popla

A few points to note are as follows:

1. Be prepared
  • You will need to have a 10 character verification code ready which the private parking firm should have provided you with. This, alongside the other evidence will quicken the process
  • 2. Appeal Online
  • Ditch the paperwork and upload your evidence and the verification code as this will mean they will reach their decision far quicker.
  • 3. Don’t lie
  • Honesty is very important. Pick one of the categories provided and add supporting details or documents when asked.
  • 4. Don’t rely on someone else’s words
  • The process is pretty straightforward so try not to use templates where they describe what to say. Because the chances are, it won’t make much sense.
  • About Alice Fowler

    I love to travel and working in the airport parking world for nearly a decade has given me inside out knowledge of the industry. I love to help travellers get the best out of their trip, and their journey to the airport is an important part of that. Whether it's using our data to spot trends and pinpoint when people can save money, or opening the lid on airport parking tips and tricks, if it helps our customers, I'll write about it!

    Related Posts

    177 responses to “What to do in the event of an airport parking fine: Your rights”

    1. I went down the “authorized “ vechicle only lane by mistake at Gatwick North terminal, I didn’t stop and there’s no way to turn back.
      Then I found the short stay and paid the £5 I have the parking ticket

      • Hi, you could try contacting the POPLA and they might be able to help! We’ve listed the steps on how to contact them in the blog post.

    2. I needed to extend my stay in Brazil but forgot to extend my long term parking in terminal 3 car park. I’ve done it now but there was 7 hours in between that I haven’t paid for. Will I get charged for these on my exit? Thanks

      • Hi! Some airport parking does have a grace period but it depends on the airport how long or short it is. I suggest you check that with the airport you parked in; you might be okay if you fall within that time. But if not, unfortunately, you might have to pay for that extra time!

    3. I went to Gatwick this morning for Covid test and inadvertently turned off on wrong road and was forced to drive through drop off zone I did not stop will I get charged

      • I believe fines are normally reserved for if you stop for too long, but I’m afraid I cannot answer for certain.

    4. Hi my husband has just dropped my 78 old farther off at Bristol airport on road he never seen any signs and had trouble even trying to see where he had to go as he never been there at all before from wales he was very unsure as to where to go he never been there before and he said signs wasn’t really helpful with him having the disabled son with him he dropped him at the steps will he get a fine

    5. Can anyone advise me on my case plz.
      My friend picked me up from east Midlands Airport , i walked to the bp station and she drove in and went in to the petrol station and purchased goods from there.
      I put my hand luggage in the car and we drove off.
      The car was mobility car and the registered kerper doesn’t drive at all and wasn’t present at the Airport.
      We haven’t not responded to any correspondence been sent to us at all.
      Because the the registered owner doesn’t driver are they “obliged to” provide the other drivers details to these ppl?
      We have now been sent cc letter but we are not sure if it genuine or not.
      Any advice is appreciated
      Thank you

    6. My Dad went to collect his friend from Bristol airport and is the dark was unsure of how to access the short stay car park. He pulled over for about 30-40 seconds to get his bearings and then entered and parked in the car park.

      He then received a ‘charge notice’ for £100. Is this enforceable? It seems extreme when it was a matter of seconds and then he parked in the correct short stay car park after he got his bearings. Can we ignore this charge? It is from a company called Vehicle Control Services Ltd.

      • Hi Sharon,

        I wouldn’t ignore it but I would contest it and ask them to review security footage. It will also depend on if there were any notices around advising you not to park and pulling over is sometimes considered so.

    7. I accidentally missed the short stay drop off point at Gatwick, I went through the car park, taking a ticket and driving straight through, when I approached the barriers my number plate appeared on the screen and barriers opened without asking for payment. I then stopped on the yellow lines just outside the barriers, will I get a fine?

    8. I went down the “authorized “ vechicle only lane by mistake at Gatwick North terminal and then found the short stay car park, I ve got my short stay ticket to prove I packed legally , but will I get fined for driving through that lane (without stopping)

      • Hi Michael,

        I would assume it would depend on whether or not there was a camera that caught you using the lane so I couldn’t say I’m afraid

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You must be 13 years old or older to comment on this blog.
    By submitting your comment, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.