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Can I Keep My Car Keys When Using Airport Parking?

Can I Keep My Car Keys?

Dear Essential Travel,
Is it true that I have to leave my keys with car parking companies when I make use of airport parking? I’m not entirely comfortable with this arrangement and would prefer to keep them on me. What are my options? Tom Forward, Essex

Our Reply:

Dear Tom,
To start off with, allow us to assure you that all the parking operators we promote are reliable businesses that would never deliberately misuse or mistreat your vehicle. You'll find a high percentage of the car parks on offer carry the Park Mark Safer Parking badge, an award given by the UK police that indicates the highest level of safety and dependability.

In many cases where you are required to leave your keys, your vehicle will be formally assessed or photographed, making the parking company responsible for its condition upon your return. Furthermore, CCTV cameras, security booms, barbed-wire fencing and good old-fashion ethics ensure that every car is looked after properly.

If you are still not happy leaving your keys, there are other options where you don't have to leave your keys. It largely depends on the location and type of airport parking you are looking for.

When You Don't Leave Car Keys

On Site Parking

With almost all on-site parking at your terminal or at car parks within walking distance of the airport, there is normally no need to leave your keys with the operator. You car is parked at a secure lot and will be in the same place when you return. It's as easy and simple as that. Unless you have requested a meet and greet service or the car park has mentioned something contrary beforehand, you can keep your car keys.

When You Do Leave Car Keys

With meet and greet parking options, you will have to leave your keys with the parking operator – for obvious reasons. This is a premium service, though, and you can rest assured the company will take care of your vehicle and you.

The same thing applies when you make use of off-airport parking that requires a transfer to and from the terminal. These are normally larger car parks with a much higher volume of vehicles coming and going. Cars are block parked and there is the occasional need to relocate certain cars to stem the flow of traffic efficiently.

For a full list of parking terms and conditions, take a look at the our meet and greet parking page.

Last Updated: May 2012

Clayton Truscott

Clayton Truscott

Clayton is a comfortable traveller, having grown up in a small city that was far away from everything. He spent lots of time in the car as a child, driving up and down the coast of South Africa on surfing trips with his family. After studying abroad in the United States and spending a year working in London, he moved to Cape Town, where he completed a Master's Degree in Creative Writing. He now works as a freelance writer for various travel, surfing and action sports publications.