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

  • 24 Aug, 2021
  • Alice Fowler
  • 174 Comments

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 five years 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!

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

    1. Hi there,I m cab driver and this morning I was expect on the main road at Heatrow Term 2 at the gate parking car,they open at 5 am,it was 4.45 and the car from Heatrow enforcement trafic he caught me and they wright down my plate number,what hapened,I have to pay the penalty

      • Hi

        If you were parked in a none-parking zone, you will probably get a fine, yes. Their argument would be that you could have driven around until 5am / found somewhere else to wait. Airports are hot on enforcing the no stopping / parking rules. If you receive a fine, pay it early as you’ll usually get a reduced fee.

    2. Hi I was picking family up from t3 Manchester airport and I went into the drop off zone and picked them up.. a man came and wrote my registration down on a card and said I would receive a fine.. I explained that I didn’t understand the signage properly and went down the wrong way.. I picked them up not even one minute and paid the 3 pound to exit the drop off area.. will I receive a fine for this?! To me it looked like the left lane was drop off and right lane was pick up.. I was with my pregnant girlfriend who was dieing for the toilet and too hot me couldn’t breathe. Should I expect a fine?! Thanks Anthony

    3. Hi there i have pickedup my Customer from gatwick north in shortstay parking but I didn’t park inside parking lot , when i entered in the short stay car park my Customer was standing on main road and i picked him from there , some parking attendent came and took my car pictures and said I cannot pickup from here and then i drove away.
      Worried now will i get a ticket?

    4. Hi I dropped my wife off in the drop off carpark at Newcastle Airport and stopped g for about a minute as I was leaving a taxi driver stopped and told me I had just got a £60 as park as my car was on a double red line. Is this correct and can it be I forced?

    5. Hi there.. I go to Heathrow T4 sometimes to pick up my cousin at the DROP OFF site. I have noticed there is a sine, “only for drop off & there is a penalty”. I never wait more then 2 minutes & pick up my cousin. Is there any camera so they send any penalty by the post? Please reply.

      • Hey Prakesh,

        You may have been lucky so far as the airports are cracking down on people stopping in the drop off areas of the airport to collect passengers. There is a dedicated pick up zone in the the Short Stay car parks which is £4.20 for up to 30 mins or free for up to 2 hours in the long stay car parks.

        £4.20 might sound a little steep, but we bet it’s a lot cheaper than the fine that may come through your door..!

    6. Hi, wonder if someone could advise me of what I can expect… My mum & I (who aren’t familiar with airport parking or drop off zones etc) dropped a friend off at Belfast international Airport today at the set down / pick-up zone, there are no tickets issued when entering for this, u just wait for barrier to go up & pay what the screen says when exiting. However, when we were leaving the bay to pay at the barrier there were no cars in front of us, the barriers were up in the air on both lanes & there was just a blank screen! After a moment we decided to drive on because we had school runs to do & we weren’t sure what to do & there was no airport staff around. We thought if we dropped any amount of money in machine that it might not even registercause screen was blank & we could get charged twice! Can we be fined for this!

    7. Is it possible to get the Telephone number of the parking machines on Terminal One Manchester airport as the machines were not working properly. It would not take a visa card ,it took a ten pound note no change and did not give a proper token. So I had to pay on another machine 4 pounds to get out. 14 pounds for less than 5 minutes every body was having the same problem

      • Hi Dennis,

        Oh, how frustrating! You can call the airport on 0808 168 6111 for car park related matters

    8. We went to drop of a friend at the airport she was female she had a lot of luggage and two young children

      My husband kindly helped her to the terminal and came back we were 5 minutes over yhe limit time unfortunately we were not aware of this my husband said he saw a notice whilst driving into the terminal which said £3 for 5 minute and £4 for 10 minute unfortunately he was tied up looking for her trolley and by the time he managed to get change it delayed it for him we had no intention on going in however as we left they gave us a fee of £25 we rang them y we were charged such a high amount we were told that we were over the time we said we wanted to appeal but yhey said we couldn’t we had to pay that it was a penalty we had no choice but to pay for them to open barriers for us to be let out

      We said we wanted to appeal he said we couldn’t i think it was unfair he said there were plenty of notices showing the penalty but we saw none and my husband we did not see yhe notices which he insisted were very but weren’t very clear at all

      The fees were but not the penalty

    9. Hi,
      I would highly appreciate if anyone can reply my post. Tonight around 8:50pm I went to London City Airport to pick up a customer, but my navigation (uber and also waze) took me through wrong way where there was “no entry” sign displayed which I missed seeing. well, when I was in short stay car park loading customer’s luggage security guys stopped by me to tell me that my car’s position is wrong way. then I told him that I came from other side. He then smiled and congratulated me and told me that I had just incurred three points on my licence. when I turned the car round and going out the guys showed me the no entry signs and also camera on the sky. I am panicking. is it really true or how potential it is to have three points for this wrong entry? Thanks in advance.

      • Hi there,

        We don’t know how true that is so we wouldn’t want to say either way. You’re best off calling the airport car park directly on 0344 332 1237 and discussing it with them.

    10. Hi, this afternoon I picked up my wife from City Airport – it was my first time at City and was passing her coming out of the terminal building so pulled up in the drop off area. There was a guy in a hi viz jacket and body cam standing there, not saying anything until my wife was in the car, then he came round to say we could expect a fine. I’ve looked online but don’t seem to be able to find what amount I’ll be charged – would you be able to help? Thanks!

      • Hi Martin,

        We can’t seem to find any info on how much the fine will be either, however from experience we know that if you pay it within the first 14 days or so, it’s usually half the cost. Fingers crossed!

    11. At LCY today, I had to stop at the zebra crossing on the road in front of the drop off point, a lady was crossing.
      Immediately on front of the zebra crossing is a yellow hatched area. To stop for the crossing, I had to stop in the hatched area.
      I was heading down to the pickup point further down, but by coincidence, my pick up saw me, ran over and jumped in.
      A guy in hi vis jumped out with his mobile phone, laughed at me, took a photo and shouted, “ha, you getting a heavy fine”
      Should I challenge this?

      • Hi Mike,

        Oh, what a cheeky way to get people! I can understand why you stopped as it’s a zebra crossing, but they may contest that you stopped in a hatched area and should have stopped before it. I think you have grounds to challenge the fine if you do receive one, especially if there is CCTV around the area that would show the lady crossing the road. But we wouldn’t suggest you don’t pay it. We suggest contacting them as soon as you receive the fine (if you do end up with one) with your challenge. Where you can, provide as much detail and evidence as you can to back up your claim. Good luck!

    12. Is the road itself owned by LCY?
      Surely the private parking company only have jurisdiction on LCY property.
      “If” the road is owned by Highways/council, surely they have no power
      Please correct me if I’m wrong.

      • I’m afraid Mike I don’t know who owns the land!

        But yes, if it is council owned, they wouldn’t have jurisdiction – as far as I’m aware! Have you had anything through at all?

    13. Hi Franki.
      I parked in the Long stay (NCP) car park at Gatwick for 5 days.
      Not realising you had to pre-book for a reduced cost, I returned to a £125 fee for the 5 days parking. I explained I didn’t have the funds to pay it, and they gave me 30 days to pay.
      I phoned them to ask for a reduction, to pay the £40-£50 it should/could have been, as there was not sufficient info, when booking my flight, or signage at the car park to inform me.
      I took photos of the small signage at the gate.
      They said there was no appeals process, and I must pay up, or it’ll be handed to Bailiffs.
      Can I appeal?
      Must I pay?
      Best regards, Michael

      • Hi Micheal,

        In this instance, you’ll need to pay the full fee I’m afraid, the cheaper rates are usually only available if you pre-book, hence why this has happened.

        Be sure to sign up to our newsletter for reminders of booking in advance to save money on your future airport parking 🙂

    14. I went to pick my son up from birmingham airport , as i got there he jumped the fence and got in my Car , week later 3100 pound fine . last week i returned to birmingham airport to collect him again . This time i drove into the old pick up area , only to be told it was drop off only , but i had paid for a ticket and he was there waiting , so he jumped in my car and we drove off , should i expect a fine . hy any one uses Airports , ill never know . I have not been abroad for over 3 years and i dont miss it at all , UK for me .

    15. Hi
      I picked up a friend from a drop off only point at city of London airport.
      I never left the car and the process was very quick however as my friend was approaching the car one of the parking officer took a photo of the number plate and told me the fine is 400 pounds. is this true?

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