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Charging Etiquette - airport parking

What is everyone’s thoughts on charging etiquette when parked at an airport? I’ve twice now been unplugged while parked at an airport using a L2 charger, hence the ability to unplug it as it’s not locked. While I understand one can assume you’re parked there for a few days and thus can accumulate a full charge prior to your return, isn’t it presumptive to determine someone else’s car has enough charge, so let’s just take it? This is at Washington Dulles airport by the way, daily parking lot. Was gone no more than 3 days. Each time the culprit was another Tesla owner. I also had to unplug culprit each time to plug back in to my car so I could get the L2 adapter to unlock and release. I was polite enough to plug it back in to the culprit although tempted to leave them unplugged but based on my experiences someone else will likely do that after my departure. Should I be upset with this behavior, especially from other Tesla owners? Or is this normal at extended parking locations such as airports?


Well-Known Member
Apr 13, 2018
Buford, GA
What type of parking? Long term? Short term?
In the rest of the EV world, it is pretty common to unplug other cars. The Leaf explicitly has an option that allows it to be unplugged when charging is complete, but locked while charging.
Tesla doesn't really play well in the J-1772 world and their is strife because of it.
When you have a car with 88 mile range, there is naturally a little issue if a car with 250+ mile range is hogging a spot for hours.

Big question. Were you charging because you couldn't get home or just because it was convenient?
Unless you know that you are the only EV at the airport, you shouldn't hog a spot for anywhere near that long. Tesla would financially penalize you if stayed that long at a Supercharger and I think that is appropriate - if you stay, you pay - for all the time you are there. There are others who need spaces to charge.

Basically you're saying that you should never use an airport charger, then. The absolutely minimum time you're going to be parked is a full extended day and more likely multiple days.
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It's an issue at the Dulles chargers and has been raised before. Part of the problem is that the EV charging spots in the daily garage are right next to the handicapped spots and the entrance to the terminal. Lots of cars park there (or try to) for convenience. Normally half of the cars in the spots aren't even plugged in, they are just parking there because they are EV cars. I personally am shocked at how many Teslas grab these spots. As others have said, with our range, we don't need it (I accept that there is likely the occasional person who drives to Dulles from Charlottesville or some other great distance, but I believe most of the cars are from within 50 miles of the airport). I agree that it is rude to hog these chargers when there are cars like leafs that have a valid need an very well need a full charge to get home.

Personally I think Dulles screwed this up. They should have put the EV chargers in the garage at the far corner away from the airport. That removes any incentive to park there for convenience. You park there because you NEED the electricity charge. I know a guy on the WMAA board and am actually going to bring this up with him the next time I see him.

All that said, yes it's a pain that your car got unplugged, but given the fact that you live in Ashburn and were only gone 3 days, I don't see why you used the spot to begin with. By way of reference, I'm on the road (international travel) 2-3 weeks a month so my Tesla probably spends an average of 20 days a month at Dulles. I normally charge up at home to 60% and park in Daily garage 1 (less crowded and I think more convenient since they have reopened the underground walkway from the garage to the terminal now that the metro construction is basically done). I've been gone for as many as three weeks and never returned to find my car with less than a 40% charge (and generally more like 50%) with no issues getting home. It's one of the big advantages of our Teslas -- the unbelievable range compared to lesser electrics. I will use one if I need it, but otherwise I just don't use them and leave them for cars who do (in the hope that when I DO need one, someone else will have been as courteous to me).
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I appreciate all the enlightening responses. So my takeaway is that parking anywhere for more than a few hours and using a public charger is assumed to be fair game in EV charging land. Mr Musk’s mantra of a happy Tesla is a plugged in Tesla doesn’t apply when traveling. I should feel ok about plugging in at the grocery story or movie theater for a few hours, yet selfish for plugging in at the airport for a day or more. If I get stuck on the road longer than expected and left my car plugged in when I departed, it’s my own fault for assuming I’ll be ok upon my return.
Yes I live reasonably close to Dulles but don’t work near there. I often arrive at the airport from work or have to drive to work after landing. I don’t always arrive to the airport with the fullest of charge, bad on me but I don’t have charging at work either. Plus I always use the chargers in hourly/daily Garage 2 that are near the garage exit on the bottom floor and are pretty much the furthest point from the airport entrance, which I thought was a courtesy compared to the ones by the handicapped spots and near the entrance as mentioned.
But now knowing the general etiquette, I’ll simply have to plan my advanced charging better so I can be courteous to the Nissan Leaf owners of the world so they can be okay when they travel. (even though it’s been other Tesla owners that have unplugged me every time) Thanks for taking the time to respond and helping me to reset my expectations.
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Well-Known Member
Mar 10, 2016
My local regional airport has a nice row of level 1 J1772 chargers. Cheap, slow, and exactly what makes sense in an airport long term parking lot.

Unfortunately they’re perpetually clogged by plug-in hybrids with no need for electricity, just looking to cash in on the premium parking spot.

EV penetration has gotten to the point where I’d be all-in on banning PHEVs at public charging stations.
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The Key Master
Mar 22, 2019
My $0.02. If you don’t think you’ll have enough power to get home after your return from your trip, leave the car at home charging and take Uber. Aside from etiquette it also ensures that you don’t get stranded when you get back from your trip.
Not everyone lives within Uber range of the airport. Who is using long term parking at the airport? People parking long term. Chargers in long term parking are for LONG TERM PARKING.


The Key Master
Mar 22, 2019
I really don't see any viable solution to this problem other than special parking lots for EVs in which either there is a charger at every parking spot or an attendant to move the cars to and from a limited number of chargers such that your car would be charged when you come back for it.

A large number of 110 outlets would make much more since than a few L2 chargers.
At ORD, the covered parking garage that has the EV chargers charge you $22/day to park. I’ve parked there 2-3 days plugged in, and no one has been disrespectful to unplug me/mess with your car. It doesn’t say that you’re limited to certain hours, it only says EV should park there. I understand the case if this was a free charging spot, but this it not the case.

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