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.
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.
Drivers should note, however, that not all fines are in fact fines. The only bodies allowed to issue fines are the police and councils. Since airport land is private, the “fine” you are likely to receive will be issued by a private parking company. They are not legally able to fine you and indeed are even prohibited from using the word “penalty” on their notices.
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.
If you have received an airport parking “fine”, have a look at the very useful POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals) website. It will guide you through the procedure of appealing, provided the notice was issued by a member of the Approved Operator Scheme.
A few points to note are as follows:
– You should not pay the charge if you intend appealing.
– It will help your case if you have photographic evidence of poor signage or anything else you are relying on in your appeal.
– Appeals can be made online or by post.