The case for Pre-paid Airport Parking

I love simplicity and the more simplicity I can add to my life when I can travel, the better. Of course, the ultimate in simplicity for me would a chauffeur driven car to secluded airport with a private jet waiting for me. In the meanwhile, it is a self parked car, thru TSA, to a commercial, oversold flight. Pre-paid airport parking would be one simple step that would simplify at least one part of air travel.United Commuter Aircraft.jpg

My case for pre-paid parking is very simple – my flight ticket is pre-paid. Why not my parking?

Pre-paid parking is becoming popular and more prevalent. It works great. You have a pre-paid flight ticket (duh!), so you know your departure and arrival dates. Just book and pre-pay your parking before even heading to the airport. Then park and fly. More importantly, when you arrive, get in your car and leave. No getting in line to pay. I don’t know about you, but I hate getting in line, either in my car or at the terminal, to pay for my parking, on my way home. I just want to get home at that time.

The second benefit of pre-paid parking is the savings. Almost all pre-paid parking companies sell pre-paid parking at a rate much lower than the ‘gate’ prices. This is a win-win for all. We the travelers save money, time and reduce hassle; the parking companies have customers who reserve and pre-pay.

My local airport, Washington Dulles (IAD), does not have any pre-paid parking option. We do have valet parking though (ah, I can dream). More and more airports are getting pre-paid parking options available. In the US, it is still rare. I have seen pre-paid parking at only a few airports – Philadelphia (PHL), Denver (DEN), Los Angeles (LAX), to name a few. If anyone is aware of other airports with pre-paid parking in the US, please share by leaving a comment below.

In the UK, pre-paid parking is much more prevalent. Almost all airports have it. Many travel companies, such as Holiday Extras also offer pre-paid parking (such as Heathrow Airport parking) on their websites.

I hope to see pre-paid parking become pervasive. As an add-on benefit, my wish list – Airline Miles for pre-paid parking (of course) and pre-assigned parking slots for travelers with Airline Elite Status!

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  1. My preferred parking option (FastTrack in PHL) has recently moved away from pre-pay. I think they stopped offering it at all in mid-October.

    It didn’t really save any time. You still had to go through the same line, hand over the same ticket, and the payment voucher. It saved the time of running the credit card, but that’s all. They now offer printable coupons for the equivalent discount that pre-pay used to offer.

    As some one who did it both ways at the same lot, I’d prefer the current system with discount coupons and no pre-pay.

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