By on August 23, 2017

lexus-parking-airport,Image: CBC News

We’re all familiar with the concept of executive parking spaces, and surely most of us know someone with a sign hanging in their garage that reads “Mopar Parking Only.” Both are annoying concepts highlighting one person’s perceived superiority over another but without any real consequences. After all, it’s not as if they’re stealing someone else’s space.

Thinking it might be a good idea to combine these two scenarios as part of a marketing ploy, Lexus teamed up with the Calgary Airport Authority to convert five primo parking spots into branded spaces. However, the locations they ended up replacing were designed for handicapped patrons. While that understandably didn’t go over well with travelers, you have to admit there is a certain level of prestige associated with displacing people who actually need something just because you want it for yourself. 

Obviously, most of the publicity the campaign inspired has been negative — forcing both the automaker and the airport to explain the misstep. And what a mistake to have made. While the campaign concept is harmless in itself, the fact that an agreement was reached where dedicated Lexus parking would replace handicapped spaces is a pretty massive error in judgement.

Details on who is to blame are a little spartan but, based on reporting from CBC News, the airport claims to have made the final call as to where to implement the Lexus-only spaces. It released an remorseful statement on Monday night.

“YYC Calgary International Airport would like to apologize to our passengers impacted by the decision to change the location of the accessible parking stalls at the airport; it is clearly out of touch with our commitment to being an accessible facility,” the statement read. “The Calgary Airport Authority would also like to apologize to Lexus Canada.”

“For clarity, The Calgary Airport Authority was solely responsible for the selection of the stalls identified for the parking campaign. Lexus Canada did not play a role in selecting, and was not aware of, the locations for the campaign.”

A spokesperson from the automaker confirmed this, stating the company had no idea of the airport’s plans to utilize disabled parking spaces.

“Lexus Canada would like to offer our heartfelt apologies to anyone who may have been affected or offended by a recent marketing campaign at the Calgary airport. We were not aware that accessible parking spaces would be used for this campaign, and have asked the airport to correct the situation as quickly as possible by returning these parking spaces to their intended use,” read a statement from Michael Bouliane, manager of corporate communications at Lexus Canada.

“In the future, we will more carefully scrutinize the details of these types of marketing campaigns. We were truly embarrassed by this mistake. It shouldn’t have happened and we are taking steps to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Calgary Airport Authority spokesperson Jody Moseley said selling the spaces as advertising would have been a good way for the airport to bring in extra cash. “We’re always looking at different ways to diversify our revenue stream,” she said.

“I think it was one of those communication fails, from the YYC perspective. We really were in the process of moving and accommodating the new advertising space at the same time, but what we really should have done is let them know in advance that this was happening.”

[Image: CBC Calgary]

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43 Comments on “The Prestige: Airport Replaces Handicap Parking With ‘Lexus-only’ Spaces...”

  • avatar

    So basically the spots were unchanged.


  • avatar

    ” you have to admit there is a certain level of prestige associated with displacing people who actually need something just because you want it for yourself. ”

    Hold up there SJW. Do we have the facts? How many handicap spaces are there? How many are required by Canadian (french) law? How often are these spots actually used?

    Before you declare (Or redeclare) that people “needed these”, maybe post some information that shows that they actually did. Perhaps there was a plethora of spaces that was above and beyond what was actually needed. Maybe these spaces were never used? There are all kinds of reasons that could go into a decision and before we start getting people fired, maybe we listen to the facts?

    • 0 avatar

      What do you mean Canadian (french) law? What does the implied (french) law have to do with anything? This is an airport, federally regulated:

      If you are somehow thinking that this is a case of French civil law, you’d have to be in the province of Quebec and in some matters only, and then it still wouldn’t matter. Airports are a federal responsibility.

      With a name like yours, you’d think you’d know that. And if you didn’t, googling beyond this article might have helped you and your Colonel Grump outlook. I did and so can you if you really care beyond issuing blarts.

    • 0 avatar
      tod stiles

      “Before you declare (Or redeclare) that people “needed these”, maybe post some information that shows that they actually did. ”

      I see, so people should have to prove that handicapped parking is needed. OK. How covfefe of you.(In the most polite Canadian way.)

      Come to think of it, those ramps are kind of a pain too.

    • 0 avatar

      While it might be different in Canada but my anecdotal experience has been to observe that handicap parking is from about 30-50% less than it should be. At work we have about 20 spaces for dedicated parking and there is always a surplus of people with handicap plates and signs jockeying for a place to park which is extremely frustrating when they just hang out either in the main lane or down an isle waiting for somebody to finish loading their vehicle (sometimes from start to finish). We could use 10-20 more spaces easily.

      Even if Canada doesn’t have a surplus handicap population like the US its still a bad call to pull those spaces. They should have instead picked the closest four or so spots from general parking.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Posky

        The fact that the airport hadn’t yet replaced the missing spaces was specified in the article. They were in the process of moving the spaces but hadn’t yet done so. They are currently restoring the old handicap spaces and leaving the replacement ones at the newly designated location.

        I suppose, since both of my legs work, I didn’t see the problem with able-bodied persons having to walk an extra thirty steps. In hindsight, I should apologize for being so inconsiderate toward non-handicapped drivers who are exceptionally lazy.

      • 0 avatar

        Interesting. Do you work in a place that attracts an unusually high number of people entitled to handicap placards? Because around me, even here in the “God’s Waiting Room” part of Florida, generally half the handicap spots are empty at any given time. Back in Maine, it is more like 3/4s.

        Maybe my two states require a higher percentage of handicap to regular spaces? I believe you, but it seems odd.

      • 0 avatar

        My anecdotal evidence is that many handicapped tags are in use by able-bodied young people who happen to be related to a doctor.

  • avatar

    Did Steve Mnuchin’s wife request these?

  • avatar

    This is hilarious.

    I do wonder if people will be avoiding them thinking somehow it is illegal to park there without driving a Lexus.

    • 0 avatar

      The last time that I was there, the United Center in Chicago had 2 complete aisles of primo spaces labeled as Lexus Club parking but I never knew whether someone enforced Lexus only parking.

    • 0 avatar

      I am curious if a non-Lexus vehicle would be ticked or towed for parking in a “Lexus Reserved Parking” space? The potential negative publicity created by towing or ticketing a Sonata for parking in a Lexus Reserved space might undue whatever prestige Lexus is trying to create with this program.

      As a bonus the class resentment it creates is almost an invitation to getting your Lexus keyed.

      This campaign is a bad idea that reflects badly on Lexus. I hope they have the sense to cancel it.

      • 0 avatar

        There would be no legal authority to tow away the vehicle. Unless Lexus somehow outright purchased these spots from whatever gov entity administered this airport.

  • avatar

    Canada has airports?

  • avatar

    That’s nearing Trumpian levels of disdain for people with disabilities.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Seeing who parks in those “handicapped” spots, I have to question how it “didn’t go well with travelers”. Maybe the travelers became late for their flights because they stopped to cheer?

    Actual people of limited mobility might be impacted, but I didn’t see much evidence of that happening.

    P.S. The author of the article is the same guy who peddled the “CO2 equals pollution” article just yesterday. Maybe it’s time to recall Robert Farrago?

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      It’s Robert Farago, not Farrago.

    • 0 avatar

      There was an explosion of ‘disabled’ people on the dole under Obama that had little to nothing to do with the wars we’re fighting. Pretty much anyone who has a friendly doctor can get their social security and handicapped plates for their Boxster to go with their clonazepam prescription. When I lived in Alexandria, Virginia, the Kingstowne Wal-Mart had a handicapped parking LOT bigger than the entire lot at a typical chain restaurant. It would fill before there were twenty cars in the normal parking lot.

      I remember when a major shopping mall was built in my hometown. There were between six and ten handicapped spots at each entrance and they were empty even when Christmas shopping had people parking in the BFE lots. It’s funny how government programs create recipients.

  • avatar

    This is the kind of sh*t that makes me literally sick.

    The more we go to a world where we see things like private companies co-opting parking spaces at what are infrastructure sites (airports, etc. – even in the context of private-public collaboratively such as airports, toll-roads) marshal them for exclusive use of drivers of their vehicles, the further down the abyss we slide.

    It’s outrageous.

    Maybe airports, after being funded in whole or part by taxpayer dollars, will just start auctioning off what is now parking spaces to companies that are the highest bidder (this parking deck reserved for Toyota & Lexus Vehicle Owners Only).

    Sickering ideas in the offing here…

  • avatar
    Thomas Kreutzer

    I took an international flight recently and noted all the special perks being afforded people who are willing/able to pay extra. It goes beyond better seats, entertainment and food in business class and expedited check-in (things offered by the company) and extends to expedited clearance through airport security (something offered by our own “Of the people, by the people and for the people” government).

    So, here we are again – special privileges for the wealthy. Witness now our society tearing itself apart with those who can pay ascending and those who can’t languishing at the bottom. What’s next? Special stores for party members and the the politbureau?

    • 0 avatar

      Oh yes. I recently flew La Garbage (sorry mayor) to Wisconsin. The middle of the country and europe tends to have nice airports…LaGarbage is a bus station. No booze service or decent eating, only overpriced sandwiches, dirty chairs, and a carpet you do NOT want to sit on.

      Luckily, I had a credit card company promotional. I went to an Admiral’s club. Wow. It was Mad Men without the tobacco smoke and sexism. Big comfy seats…clean. Wifi not from that horrid BoingBoing. Soup on offer, a decent number of free well drinks, top shelf for reasonable price. Plenty of gadget chargers. Attentive staff. A very civilized place to suffer while my short hop flight was delayed three hours plus……

      I normally fly “Sort by cheapest direct flight” so I can’t say boo. It was nice though, and if I flew for work, I’d pay the money for these passes/get the right charge card for free admission in a heartbeat

      • 0 avatar

        Got to spend time once at the Delta lounge going through Amsterdam. Not saying that I’d be able (or willing) to pay for premium experiences in travel every time, but I have to say, it sure as shooting beat wandering around the terminal trying to find a quiet place to wait out my layover. Plenty of food, room to stretch out, quiet and clean. The other half has it good.

    • 0 avatar

      “So, here we are again – special privileges for the wealthy. ”

      The wealthy paid for their privileges and subsidised basic services for the poor at the same time. I see no issue with that.

      • 0 avatar

        ding ding ding, we have a winner. Why the anger at “privileges” for the wealthy that they actually pay for? I can understand anger at privileges for the powerful that they take for themselves by abusing their power, but stuff that people actually pay for? Do people really think the price of travel could be so cheap if not for the premium that airlines collect from those who can afford and are willing to pay disproportionately high prices for a higher level of service? And if the government can pay for some of the costs of security by offering a shorter line for those willing to pay, what’s the problem with that? Airports already auction the best parking spaces to those willing to pay more (see short term lots near the terminal vs cheaper long term lots). Even those parking spaces for Lexus owners, if Lexus wants to pay the airport some money so their customers get good parking spaces, that’s just a novel form of advertising, and advertising helps pay for running the airport, which means fees for travelers can be a little lower for everyone.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, there were several years in a row where I traveled about 150 days a year for business, almost all of it short haul domestic on heavily-discounted fares that Canadian government employees are now encouraged/required to take.. What that means is that I am in an airport almost every weekday, but without ever getting any airline status or free access to perks. For those years, I paid $600 out of pocket for an AMEX Platinum Card that gave me lounge access and expedited security at Pearson. Best $600 I ever spent.

      You can argue that not everyone can afford to spend $600 on a credit card, but likely those people aren’t required by their jobs to travel 150 days a year.

      Now I’m down to 60 days a year and am not as concerned about lounges and expedited security, at least not $600 concerned. But I’m glad the option is there.

      • 0 avatar

        Same here. I am on track for 200+ days on the road this year. I pay $495 for the American Airlines card that gets me an Admiral’s Club membership, and before they had that card I just paid for the membership directly. I figured out many years ago that long layovers (I like 3hrs between flights) and a Club membership were the secret to enjoying this level of travel, especially considering most of mine is up and down the delay-ridden East Coast of the US.

        Worth every single penny. You know you travel too much when the A-Club attendants in Charlotte, DC, and Philly know you by name.

        Luckily, I work for a private company and do get all the perks that go with that level of travel. And of course, the biggest perk of all in that they let me travel on one airline regardless of cost.

    • 0 avatar

      @Thomas Kreutzer

      One correction. The TSA does NOT control access to the security checkpoints (PreCheck excepted), the airlines do. The various Elite security lines are their purview only, not the TSA, which is why you will see non-TSA personnel checking your boarding pass to see if you are entitled to use one.

      Also, you don’t need to pay to access all those amenities, you can just fly a lot too. :-)

    • 0 avatar

      Thomas, I am pretty sure that the airlines are paying a per passenger charge for the use of those premium class security and customs lanes. In the case of the UK, I know they are, because they’re only available to passengers of airlines who sign up for them – and not all do (Icelandic, for one).

      If I travel to Europe in economy, I’ll probably pay in the range of C$750-1,000 for the ticket. In business class, it’s more like $5,000+. On transatlantic routes, it’s long been the case that airlines lose money on economy class passengers, but make oodles of it in business and first (and on cargo, which people tend to forget about). So, I can’t begrudge the delivery of extra service to people who are paying for it. Especially whenever I’ve been one of them, to be fair.

  • avatar

    You have to be handicapped to drive a Lexus, so I don’t see the problem.

  • avatar

    Easier travel is one of the greatest benefits of wealth. Everyone else gets treated like a cow. Travel perks are precious. Private air travel would be amazing.

  • avatar

    At Nashville’s airport, there is a an entire row on the first floor of the covered garage set aside for Nissan (which is usually filled with the same color Infiniti). But at least that row isn’t front and center, it’s off to one side.

    I guess I’ll not soon see a spot set aside for Chevy Cruze owners…

  • avatar

    “We’re always looking at different ways to diversify our revenue stream”

    Stealing everyone’s water, and then charging $4 a bottle in the terminal isn’t bringing in enough revenue?

  • avatar

    I used the Lexus reserved spaces at Edmonton Intl when I went to pick up my wife. I drive a Lexus, I felt like the kind of d-bag I detest, and enjoyed the heck out of the convenient, close location to the terminal.

  • avatar
    Trev Limiter

    Lexus-only parking is also offered at Dodger Stadium:

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