I-Team Investigation: Parking At Philadelphia Airport Terminal

PHILADELPHIA (CBS3) – After September 11th, airport security became a top priority. And the averted Times Square car bomb shows how terrorists aren’t just using planes to try and attack us.

That is why the law is clear.

For security reasons, besides loading and unloading, parking directly in front of a Philadelphia airport terminal is illegal, but you wouldn’t know it based on what we found.

We found a pick up truck. It was parked right in front of Terminal A.

Our reporter Jim Osman follows the driver to see where he goes.

The driver heads inside apparently looking for passengers and he comes back out and heads right back into the terminal to take another look.

The man’s truck is parked — unattended — for more than 20 minutes before a police officer finally asks him to move.

“It’s a situation just waiting for a catastrophe,” said Eyewitness News viewer Walter Czepiga, who tipped off the I-Team.

The man and his wife noticed the problem after flying into Philadelphia from Tucson.

In our exhaustive investigation, we spotted vehicle after vehicle parked directly in front of terminals for extended periods of time.

Most of the drivers did it without ever having anyone shoo them away.

Another example? A second pick up.

The driver parks it right in front of the terminal. Our reporter Jim Osman followed him inside as the driver checked the arrivals board and baggage claim.

The driver comes back out to his truck briefly, but then once again he’s back roaming the terminal.

For most of the time, his truck is parked unattended. He leaves with two passengers 45 minutes later.

The man was never asked to move and there was not an officer in sight.

“It does concern me that people can sit there for that long a period of time”, said New Jersey Congressman Rob Andrews who is a member of the Homeland Security Committee.

Andrew reviewed videotape of what we uncovered.

Enforcement is the responsibility of the Philadelphia Police Department.

An I-Team producer approached one officer at the airport about parking laws and regulations. The officer said the law is being enforced.

But Police Chief Inspector for Homeland Security Joe Sullivan says, based on what we discovered, more can be done.

“We do appreciate you bringing this to our attention.” the Chief Inspector said.

He promised action would be taken to tighten security.

The Chief Inspector says the Police Department wrote 6,000 parking related violations in the last year.

He says the airport is appropriately staffed with enough officers.

We checked, since the police became aware our investigation, and we did see increased police presence outside the airport terminals.

  • Curt

    I use the PHL airport frequently for my job and family vacations, While it is the worst airport in the united States in my opinion(long lines at Check-in and security taking 1 hour or more, Rude and ignorant employees, Baggage claim taking more than 1 hr) I have yet to encounter the problems encountered with this story. I’ve traveled several times with my family this year and each time there were Police officers telling me if I didn’t move my car ASAP they would have my car towed from both departing and arrival areas. Did I mention I have a 15 month old baby and My wife is Handicapp?

  • lou l

    I was there the other day and counted 11 cars parked illegally on the ramps to the airport; some under signs that said “no stopping or parking”

    think what bad guys with a bomb in a van could do to the approach roads!

  • Joe

    Remember Timothy Mcveigh, does a bomb have to go off.

  • Jim

    Sue, you are 100% correct that this is not a security issue. It is nothing more than a traffic issue, however when KYW or any other news media portrays this in a way that they did (starting the video with the Trade Centers falling), the PD bosses over-react and the officers directing traffic no longer have the ability to let you stay for a few minutes for your passenger since KYW may still be filming. The officers are there to move traffic so that waiting passengers do not have to walk into the 2nd or 3rd lane to load, therefore creating a more serious traffic/safety problem.



      • PeaceBwithU


  • SueL

    Wow, people…I can assure you that I am NOT one of those “hang out at the curb and wait for my loved ones to mosey on down from their departure gate” folks. I have ALWAYS used the cell phone lot, even while it was inconvenient and dark and spooky in its previous location. I was NEVER that idiot that stayed at the curb for more than 3 minutes, nor did I ever pull over and wait by the side of the road. My husband/kids text when they land and then again when they have their bags, which is when I make my way from the lot to the baggage claim area. I’m just saying that there are usually way more cops than necessary, standing in the middle of the street in front of the terminals disrupting traffic flow and putting themselves and drivers in harm’s way. And, yes, once or twice it has taken a minute or maybe 2 to fit all the luggage into our vehicle and the police have yelled not-so-nicely for us to move…seriously, I’m there every week. I know the rules. I follow the rules. I obey the law. Cut me some slack if you see that we’re working furiously to get everything and everyone situated. That’s not a security risk…and everyone knows it. The investigators must have looked long and hard to find a time when there was no security around and there were cars unattended for long periods of time because I can assure you that it’s got to be a very, very rare occasion.

    • WILLIAM W.


  • Johnny D.

    Sue says …”and they hassle you if you wait more than 30 seconds for someone to come out from the baggage claim area”. They should be waiting for you at the curb dear.

  • Johnny D.

    I have not problems. I park in the cell phone parking area wait for my party to arrive then drive into the terminal pick them up and go on my way. Never been hastled because I’m in and out. It’s that simple people.

  • Jim

    I would like to see Channel 3 or any other station follow the police around to see how some of these people react when asked to move or use the FREE cell phone lot. I’m willing to bet that these are the same people complaining to the media when they want the law to apply to others and not themselves.

  • Leo R

    Police can’t win. When they enforce the rules, people complain that they are too heavy-handed. When they don’t, the news does a story about the lack of security at the airport. When is the last time anyone has heard of an incident at PHL that involved the ineffectiveness of the Phila PD? They do an excellent job!

  • B. Wayne

    I think Sue L. should read the parking signs and obey them instead of complaining about the Police doing their jobs. She would probably be one of the first morons to blame the Police if an incident took place . Hey Sue, how about breaking down and paying the $3.00 for the parking lot like your supposed to do, instead of being cheap and in the way !

    • SueL

      I’m definitely not cheap and I’ve never been “in the way”, so don’t be rude. I read the signs, thank you very much…and I’m certainly no moron. Thank you for exposing yourself as rude and ignorant.

  • David Czepiga

    Be appreciative that my brother acknowledged this discrepancy in security and not “Terrorists. “

  • SueL

    Great..I am at the airport weekly, dropping off and picking up my husband and/or kids. Nine times out of ten, there are way more police there than necessary…and they hassle you if you wait more than 30 seconds for someone to come out from the baggage claim area. It’s ridiculous. They would be put to better use patrolling the streets instead of acting like parking lot attendants. Sad and an enormous waste of taxpayer dollars.

    • Jim

      Let me try to understand your comment. Signs are clearly posted everywhere at the airport. There is a FREE cell phone lot easily accessible in case you choose not to pay for short term parking. The signs CLEARLY state “Active Loading Only”, meaning that your passengers must be ready to load “not on their way out the door”. It sounds to me that you only want to law to apply to others and not yourself.

  • Ross R Felten

    I do not use the airport frequently, but the times I have gone to drop off people, there has been a police presence and I have been asked to move . This has occurred on several different trips to the airport. Perhaps in recent months the security has started to ease off?

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