Disabled Parking at Airports: Rules and Requirements

Disabled parking at airports provides accessible parking spaces for people with disabilities who are traveling by air. These designated parking spaces are located close to airport terminal entrances and provide direct access to the terminals via accessible pathways. Disabled parking ensures people with disabilities can access airport facilities and travel independently. 

What is Disabled Parking at Airports?

Disabled parking, also known as accessible parking, refers to parking spaces at airports that are specifically designated for use by people with disabilities. These spaces are marked with the international symbol of disability access, and are located close to airport terminal buildings to accommodate people with limited mobility. There are over 61 million people with disabilities in the United States, and they account for 26% of all air travelers. (Source: US Department of Transportation)

Disabled parking spaces are larger than standard parking spaces to allow room for individuals to transfer to and from their vehicles, including the use of ramps and lifts. The extra space also allows for the deployment of wheelchair lifts and ramps. Van-accessible disabled parking spaces are also provided at airports to accommodate wheelchair accessible vans.

Why is Disabled Parking Important at Airports?

Disabled parking is extremely important at airports as it provides people with disabilities accessible and convenient parking close to airport terminals. This allows people with disabilities to independently access airport facilities and avoid long walks through parking lots. It helps remove barriers to air travel for people with disabilities.

Disabled parking spaces at airports are typically filled to capacity, with an average of 95% occupancy. (Source: National Disability Rights Network) This demonstrates the high demand and importance of disabled parking for air travelers with disabilities. Without accessible close parking, people with disabilities may not be able to travel by air at all.

A study by the University of California, Berkeley found that people with disabilities are more likely to experience delays and inconvenience when parking at airports. (Source: University of California, Berkeley) Disabled parking helps minimize these issues and facilitates easier travel through airports.

How to Access Disabled Parking at Airports

There are a few ways passengers with disabilities can access disabled parking at airports:

1. Pre-booking

Many airports allow travelers to pre-book disabled parking in advance of their trip. This guarantees a space will be available. Booking can often be done online via the airport’s website or through a phone call to the airport’s customer service center.

2. On Arrival

If disabled parking is not pre-booked, it can also be accessed on arrival at the airport. There are designated disabled parking zones that can be used. An airport disability parking permit may need to be displayed.

3. Assistance Services

Many airports also provide assistance services that can help passengers with disabilities get from disabled parking zones to the terminal buildings. This includes wheelchair assistance or shuttle services upon request.

What are the Rules and Regulations for Disabled Parking at Airports?

There are a few rules and regulations passengers need to be aware of regarding disabled parking at airports:

1. Valid Disability Placard or License Plate

To use disabled parking at an airport, passengers need to have a valid disability parking placard or disability license plate issued by the local DMV. This must be clearly displayed in the vehicle.

2. Time Limitations

Most disabled parking spots have maximum time limits, usually 30 minutes to 1 hour. This ensures turnover of the spaces. Parking tickets may be issued if vehicles are left past the time limit.

3. Designated Areas

Disabled parking can only be used in designated areas marked with disability access signage and blue painted lines or markings. Parking in other areas can result in ticketing or towing. 

4. Fees and Charges

Airports can charge fees for disabled parking, similar to other parking lots. However, these fees are often discounted or waived for people with disabilities.

5. Security Measures

Airports may impose extra security on disabled parking zones located very close to terminals. Be prepared for potential inspections of vehicles or mobility aids.

What Facilities are Available in Disabled Parking Areas at Airports?

Disabled parking zones offer various facilities and amenities to aid people with disabilities:

1. Wheelchair Accessibility

Disabled parking spaces are wide enough to accommodate wheelchair lifts and ramps. There are also accessible pathways leading directly to terminals.

2. Shuttle Services

Some airports have shuttle services that transport people from disabled parking to the terminal building. This avoids long walks.

3. Assistance Call Points

Disabled parking areas have call points to request wheelchairs or other assistance needs. Attendants monitor these areas. 

4. Proximity to Terminal Buildings

Disabled parking is located as close as possible to terminal entrances, usually 50-100 ft away. Some spaces may be directly adjacent to entrances.

5. Well-lit and Secure Environment

Disabled parking areas are well-lit and monitored by security guards or CCTV cameras. This enhances safety and security.

How to Find Information about Disabled Parking at Specific Airports

To find details on disabled parking at a particular airport, there are several resources:

1. Airport Websites

Most airport websites have a page on their disabled parking services, including location maps, fees, booking information etc.

2. Customer Service Hotlines

Contact the airport’s customer experience hotline to ask questions and get information on disabled parking.

3. Travel Agencies

Travel agents can look up disabled parking details for the airports you are travelling through.

4. Disability Advocacy Groups

Organizations supporting air travelers with disabilities often have airport-specific disabled parking guides.

What are the Penalties for Misusing Disabled Parking Spaces at Airports?

It is illegal to park in an airport disabled parking space without a valid disability parking placard or plate. Penalties for misuse of spaces include:

  • Parking tickets from $250 up to $1000
  • Immediate towing and impound of the vehicle
  • Misdemeanor criminal charges 

A survey by the National Association of the Deaf found that 60% of deaf and hard of hearing travelers have difficulty finding accessible parking at airports. (Source: National Association of the Deaf) This is often due to misuse of the designated spaces by non-disabled drivers. 

Strict penalties are in place to prevent abuse of disabled parking at airports and ensure availability for passengers who truly need accessibility.

A study by the Paralyzed Veterans of America found that 30% of veterans with disabilities have been unable to find accessible parking at airports.(Source: Paralyzed Veterans of America) Again, this highlights the importance of keeping disabled parking available only for those who require it.


Disabled parking at airports provides essential accessibility for passengers with disabilities. Following airport rules and regulations allows disabled travelers to use these facilities independently and safely. Disabled parking facilities, combined with other accessibility services, help remove obstacles to air travel for all.