U.S. airports consider imposing fees for picking up, dropping off passengers

Dropping off or picking up friends or family members at the airport could cost you in the future. A Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) study prompted by traffic and pollution concerns may result in making Boston’s Logan International Airport the first in the U.S. to charge fees for picking up or dropping off passengers, the Boston Globe reports.

In the past two years, more than 15,000 flights per year have been added to Logan’s scheduling. Of the 108,000 vehicles that enter Logan on average days, more than 20,000 cars are picking up or dropping off passengers.

Other countries already charge airport passenger drop-off and pickup fees. According to the Globe, more than a dozen airports in the U.K. already charge such fees.

Dallas/Fort Worth International imposes fees for all cars that enter the airport, which many drivers use as a shortcut between highways. The DFW fee is based on time, penalizing cars with a $4 fee for passing through in under 8 minutes, while charging only $2 for cars on the airport grounds for 8 to 30 minutes — typical drop-off and pickup durations.

Taxis, buses, and rideshare drivers pay fees at Logan and many other airports in the U.S., but private cars do not. While at least one group is already advocating against such fees, some transportation experts think the fees are inevitable.

University of Missouri transportation professor Ray Mundy told the Globe, “I believe that a pick-up and drop-off charge for private automobiles will be the next major charge for U.S. airports. The rationale is to encourage more and more people to use high occupancy vehicles and public transportation. It also has the effect of raising revenue for airports. I think those two rationales will overcome resistance to charging people for pick-up and drop-off.”

What’s the likely reaction from passengers? “Hell, no,” according to Charlie Leocha, the founder of Travelers United, a passenger advocacy group. “From a passenger point of view, it’s one more system of nickel-and-diming,” Leocha continued.

The Globe reports passenger drop-off and pick-up fees range from $1.50 to $5 in the U.K. It’s not yet known if the fees have lessened traffic, although a study at Heathrow Airport indicated driver behavior wouldn’t change for fees less than $15.