Airport Parking Tech: Transformations in Service & Speed

11 August 2023
Airport parking technology improves service and speed.

This article by David A. Moore, a senior parking consultant at Walter P Moore, originally appeared in the August 2023 issue of Parking Magazine.


There is increasing demand for parking at U.S. airports, and innovative technologies are being deployed to meet this demand while enhancing customer experience and revenue streams. Technological advancements include online and prepaid parking reservations, cashless payment options, customer loyalty programs, parking count and guidance systems, and EV charging infrastructure. These technologies not only streamline the parking experience for travelers but also optimize revenue opportunities and contribute to sustainability efforts. 

Demand for air travel continues to rise—and so does demand for parking in U.S. airports.

Many airports have deployed innovative technologies to meet increased parking demand, ensure the experience is seamless and customer-friendly, and safeguard a vital revenue stream. Airports that adopt or expand the use of these technologies can generate new revenue and provide improved customer service.

Online & Prepaid Reservations

Airports have seen more travelers making online, prepaid parking reservations for upcoming trips. An online parking reservation can lower passenger stress levels on the day of travel. It also ensures a touchless transaction process as well as quicker entrance and exit at the parking facility.

For the operator, reservations offer opportunities to maximize revenue through dynamic pricing and yield management. Reservations also enable operators to create offers that aim to capture new customers who may have previously used off-airport parking or gotten dropped off at the airport.

Enhancement Opportunities for Parking:
Consider these tech upgrades as part of the airport parking manager’s operational plans

  • Increased use of online and prepaid parking reservation options
  • Remote parking-management services
  • Fast and customer-friendly credit-card-only payment options without a cashier
  • Touchless transactions and LPR
  • Parking count and guidance systems with find-your-car capabilities
  • Increased EV charging infrastructure and stations

Cashless On-Site Payments

Similar to other parking markets and service industries, airport parking operations are moving toward a cashless, credit-card-only business model. Parkers pay by credit card either at walk-up stations inside the terminal near baggage claim, inside the parking facility, or at drive-up stations in facility exit lanes. As a result, the transition to cashless payments has also shifted staffing needs at some airports.

Customer Loyalty Programs

Proven technologies, such as automated vehicle identification (AVI) windshield tags and LPR, have improved the implementation, management, and friendliness of customer loyalty programs. In addition to enabling quick, seamless, and touchless transactions, such programs offer operators opportunities to learn more about parking customers and may lead to additional revenue streams.

Maximized Occupancy & Improved Service

In recent years, parking count and guidance system technologies have become commonplace at airport parking facilities. For parkers, benefits include less time spent locating an available parking space and enhanced overall customer service. Operators benefit from the ability to increase occupancy levels to 100% by directing customers to the last few available parking spaces in a facility.

The benefits of parking guidance and count systems increase when they are used in concert with LPR technology in entrance and exit lanes. For example, they can help customers find their vehicle and make the touchless exit process even smoother. Airports and parking operators can use these systems together to charge different parking rates for specific parking spaces or areas within the same facility.

EV Network Infrastructure

To support sustainability and green initiatives, many airports around the country have added EV charging stations in public and employee parking facilities. They have also purchased electric shuttle buses to transport public parkers and employees; these also require EV charging stations. This has created a need for additional infrastructure to supply the power these charging stations require, so upgrades need to be accommodated.

Investment Delivers Results

As U.S. airports implement more of these technologies and processes, travelers and employees increasingly enjoy a quick, seamless, and contactless parking experience. At the same time, operating expenses are also reduced.

Airport parking operators must continue to grow and evolve in their use of technology to keep up with rising traveler expectations and volume.

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