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Is My Car Really Safe at the Airport?

Your car is your baby. Being away from it is stressful. Even just leaving it in the supermarket parking lot for a while can make your mind wander. What if someone backs into it? What if it’s broken into? What if it’s stolen?

When you book a family vacation and need to take a flight, your car sits in an airport lot for days on end. Now, chances are strong that your car will be totally fine — exactly how you left it. Still, sometimes the unfortunate case arises and your car is not totally fine.


For example, this English parking agency took people’s cars and parked them in places that couldn’t be farther from “airport parking.” One car was parked in a shady industrial complex. The other was parked next to a strip club.

The icing on the cake is the agency’s website — it showed pictures of what seemed like perfectly normal lots, but were actually photos of a supermarket lot and even another completely unrelated airport lot.

Back in the states, this guy had quite a surprise when he came home to Seattle, Washington, from a business trip. He discovered that the wheels and tires of his car had been stolen, and the car was left jacked up in the parking lot!

The airport spokesman said that out of 2.4 million cars that went through the Seattle garage that year, 2015, there were 35 instances of people trying to break into or tamper with cars.

That number is definitely a small fraction, but you still don’t want to be the person who has to work with police to find out why your car is undriveable or why it’s sitting miles away from the airport in a dangerous area.

Luckily, you can take some quick precautions to make sure your car is safe at the airport:

Install a dash cam system. Any rogue valet workers will be caught in the act if they’re driving someplace shady.

If you’re using a parking service, make sure they hold themselves responsible for your car. Most companies take detailed pictures of your car and keep them on file so they know what to look for if the car gets lost. Make sure they will be the ones at fault if this happens, not you. After all, you aren’t in the wrong if they have trouble finding it!

Use the same company. If you’ve found a good company, stick with them. They’ll often offer perks for frequent parking, or other discounts.  These companies sometimes offer extra perks, like shuttles to the terminal and free washing and waxing.

airport parking theft

Disconnect your battery. This quick move can both prevent battery drainage and keep away dumb car thieves who won’t want to spend the time figuring out why the car won’t start.

Fully inflate your tires. You don’t want to come home from a long trip only to find your tire has gone flat.

Prepare for any bad weather. Especially in the winter, bad weather can turn your day sour. Have an ice scraper handy in case there’s a layer of ice on your windshield when you come back. If possible, choose a non-icy space to park, like under a garage.

Remember where you park. This will just save you the hassle of looking aimlessly for your car! Put it in your phone, or text it to yourself. Don’t just think that you’ll remember after a long trip.

Don’t worry — your baby will be fine at the airport. Just make sure you follow these tips and be aware of fishy parking companies and situations before speeding off to the terminal.


Scott Huntington

Author Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington is an Automotive YouTuber and writer who loves cars, sports, and business. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington or email [email protected].

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