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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 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. i recently parked on verge within airport grounds for half hour leaving car unattended. the police are now intending to prosecute myself under airport bylaws. do you know what the fine will be?

      • Hi there,

        Without knowing the airport I am unable to help you with this issue. Each fine will be different depending on location.

    2. Hi i have been sent a 100£ Ticket for picking up a passenger in drop off zone only. If I remember correctly there were not enough signs saying that i can be fined by picking up passengers from drop off zone. Can someone please help me how to deal with this.

      • In this instance Max we would suggest you pay the fine and then contest the decision if you feel it to be on unfair grounds.

    3. Hi –

      I’ve just picked up in the drop off area at London city airport , I didn’t leave my car attended and was parked for all of 30 seconds , there is a lot of building works at LCY and it is very confusing as to where to go. They did have parking help people on but no one stopped me or directed me and as my partner got in the car they shouted at us the cameras will get you.

      If we do receive a fine for this, would we have to pay this as reading in the previous posts, it won’t be issued by the police or council, I asume it will be a private company

      Thanks for your help – very worried as have see. The fine could be £400


      • Hi Emily, we suggest if you do receive a fine then to pay it, in most cases the fine is cheaper within the first 14 days, and then contest the decision should you feel it to be made on unfair grounds.

        Fingers crossed for you!

    4. I was picking up a friend from birmingham airport after going around a few times due to not really knowing where i was going i had to stop for less than 15 seconds due to feeling like i was about to vomit I was suffering from morning sickness at the time i didnt stop for more than 15 seconds the time on the picture evidence also corresponds with this….do i really need to pay £170?! thanks in advance

      • Hi Katie,

        I’m sorry to hear that! If you read our blog above it takes you through the appeal process if you feel you have a case, unfortunately we cannot advise you on how likely you will be to be successful.

    5. Hi
      I was in the drop off area at the London City Airport and possibly stopped on the pedestrian crossing for under 5 seconds to drop a friend off. There was no one trying to cross the crossing. A guy wearing a high-vis jacket with “Airport Transport Officer” written on it’s back took down my number on a piece of paper. Can I expect a fine or penalty points or both?

      • Hi,

        These areas are down to the Airport and the companies that they employ to police them, so we can’t say for sure what their rules are as to whether you will get a fine or not. It would be unlikely to be penalty points, however.

    6. Hi there,
      I’ve received today 2 Parking Charge Notice from Southend airport!!, from the same day. 1 for pick up, for less than 1 minute, shown on the pictures timings (obviously, I didn’t know or see any singes/cameras). And the second one, as a was leaving the airport, I stopped in a hard shoulder type that was on the side of the road, just before leaving the airport, to set up the sat nav, without leaving the car, for exactly 1 minute and 1 second… is there any possible appeal in those rare cases?
      My biggest concern is if am I going to get another 2 ”fines”, because a week later I did exactly the same while I was dropping my parents at the same airport… God help me!
      Can anyone tell me if I should appeal, please?

      Many thanks,

      • Hi there Davinia, sorry to hear about the situation you are in. You are well within your right to contact the issuer of your fine and explain you are unwilling to pay the fine if it’s based off unfair grounds. You must follow the internal procedure of the parking firm involved. As well as that you are well within your right to as for a breakdown of the prices if you are unsure on the total amount. In most cases you will be given a discount on your fine if you pay within the first 14 days of receiving it. Best of luck!

    7. So, in most recent cases written on this board, what i am seeing, is that you recommend the complainant to pay the charge and then contest it. This is very helpful for all airports who have recently decided to increase their drop off charges and less helpful to people who have been taxed for dropping someone off.
      Bristol airport is a case in point. (i am unsure of any bylaws) but this is private ground, double red lines, unenforceable by the police, but a private company driving around in a van with a camera and also signage saying that up to £1000 fine may be enforced.

    8. I have been fined twice for picking up prebooked passengers in the Edinburgh airport drop off area. These fines were for incidents that occurred 3 and a half months ago too.
      Anyway my point and question is…what is the difference between me picking up a prebooked passenger up and someone else picking up a friend or relative?
      Now all that is happening in the pick up area is that there is a log jam of people and cars which is much more dangerous than being able to drive through without reverse parking in and out of parking spaces whilst passengers are walking round looking for their own lift.
      I have paid £160 to this company and cannot see at all how this is justified as they would only have generated £4 less if I drove through the drop off area instead.
      This is not about health and safety etc, it’s about making sure passengers have to use over priced airport taxis and to rip everyone off.
      Should I appeal if any more fines come because I may well have been caught in the 3 months meantime since this last incident?

      • Hi Michael, Unfortunately this is up to the airport to decide where/how to enforce parking rules no matter how little sense they may make. If you do decide to appeal fingers crossed for you.

    9. Hi, I stopped to pick up my wife on the road side in East midlands airport. Was literally stopped for less than 5 sec for her to get in the car but a mobile cctv captured us as it was a double red line zone.
      This was on 1st Oct, I received a parking fine from a private company on the 12th of November and the issue date on the letter was 06 November 2019. This is 22 working days (over a month if including weekends) after the incident.

      I understand that these PCN’s must be issued / sent within 14days of the incident. Is it possible to contest this based on the fact that the letter wasn’t issued in time?

    10. Was picking up at City Airport heading to signs for short stay and the person I was picking up was walking to meet me. I saw her and pulled over while she quickly jumped in the car, not realising that I’d pulled over in a bus stop! Two men in high viz jackets explained to my friend next time use the car park. She offered to get out and asked them what to do. They said it’s already done but use car park next time. I felt dreadful and it was purely a quick reaction to stop to get her.
      Will I get a ticket? and what about stopping all be it for less than 30 seconds in a bus stop? Feel dreadful!

      • Hi Gill, you will have to wait and see if you receive a fine in the post, unfortunately the airport decides the rules on where you can/can’t stop. Fingers crossed their cameras didn’t catch it.

    11. Hi, I was driving around Bristol airport trying to find my airport parking. After driving around for twenty minutes I seen a Bristol work van behind me in the distance ( I had two kids in the car so couldn’t just nip out and ask somebody in the airport) I then pulled over so the work van could come closer and when he did I got out and asked him where I need to be he told me straight away and even took me there! I then have a letter when I get back from holiday saying I was parked in a no stopping area and now been fined 100 pound can any one tell me what I can do

      • Hi Daniel, we suggest you contact the company who charged you with the fine and follow their appeals process. Best of luck from us!

    12. Hi I dropped my son off at the hotel at the Birmingham airport because he had a 5 hour wait – dropping him off in the hotel dropping off bay. I have received a Parking Charge Notice even though he went into the hotel. He wasn’t staying there and has no receipts but the CCTV should clearly show that he went into the hotel. I appealed to APCOA but they claim their images do not show this – which I don’t believe. I think I was stopped for about a minute (the APCOA images are only for 40 secondes).

      I’d like to think that you shouldn’t get a fine for stopping in a hotel drop off bay to drop someone off at a hotel!

      Presumably there should be more onus on them to prove he did not go into the hotel.

      Any advice? – do I now appeal via POPLA. I can’t bring myself to pay a fine when I genuinely believe I did nothing wrong.

      • Hi there, sorry to hear about your situation, and yes we suggest you go down the route of appealing via POPLA. Best of luck from us!

    13. Hi, I parked at Heathrow Terminal 2 drop off point for a pick up, but was waiting for the passengers for 15 minutes.
      After this I noticed cameras, will I get a fine?

      • Hi Michael, we can only suggest for you to wait for the outcome and see if you receive a fine. Best of luck!

    14. I dropped mum off at lba. Its normally a £3 charge. It was torrential rain at the time. I stopped behind another car at the barrier for a minute and the car put it in reverse as it was not working. I noticed same problem at another barrier. Another barrier was was just left in open upright position so exited through that without paying as i couldnt read the screen along with other cars doing the same. I presumed we were free to go. Can i expect a ticket through my door as this seem to be some kind of malfunction.

      • Hi Andrew, we suggest you wait until you are charged with a fine and then contact the company and follow their appeals process. Best of luck from us!

    15. I was on Luton airport and make a wrong turn, when I realise restricted access sign and no stopping underneath I decide it to turn around but there was a lorry parallel to me so I had to wait. My friend then jump out to catch his flight. I have receive a letter from debt collection company for car parking fine. I contacted to them and they told me they have send me letter which I didn’t receive. What is my rights?
      I have not informed about fine this is the first letter I have received and letter from debt recovery company looks like junk mail.

      Thank you for your help in advance.

      • Hi Nedim, Sorry to hear about your situation – We suggest you contact the company who charged you with the fine and follow their appeals process. Best of luck from us!

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