Dear Charlottetown Airport

I often sing your praises, Charlottetown Airport, when talking to people from big cities: you’re so small, and handy, and friendly. It’s so nice to leave my house at 5:30 for a 6:15 flight, and have time to spare. Your staff are helpful, your waiting room pleasant, your service quick.

Which is why I feel so bad that you lied to me today.

This afternoon I dropped off some family flying back to Toronto. I wanted to give them all a hug, so I parked in the short-term parking lot.

Once they were all through security, I headed back to my car and, like every other time I’d done exactly the same thing in recent years, I made sure I had a dollar coin ready to put in the machine at the exit.

I made sure to drive up to the “Pay By Coins” exit — there was a big sign. I slid my ticket into the machine, and it beeped at me. But it didn’t tell me to insert my dollar. I did it again. Beep. Again. Beep. I carefully read over the instructions, instructions that indicated that I was in the proper line to pay by coin.

Finally, in desperation, I rang the buzzer for help. I explained my situation to the person whose voice suddenly rang through the speaker. They asked me if I’d paid for my ticket inside. I explained that I hadn’t and that I was in the line where I could pay by coin.

They claimed that I couldn’t pay by coin. I explained that there was a sign 3 feet from my head that provided a detailed explanation of how I could pay by coin.

They said that wasn’t true any more. I asked why there was a sign that said that it was true. They said I couldn’t pay by coin. They told me that there was a sign at the entrance that clearly explained that I had to pay inside; I explained that every other time I’d parked in the lot, going many years back, I’d paid by coin.

I asked what I should do. They told me to back up. I told them there was a car behind me. They told me that they would open the gate and that I should drive through, go back into the parking lot, get another ticket, get out of my car, go into the terminal, pay for my parking inside, get back into my car, drive around to the exit again, and insert my ticket into the machine.

Can you see anything wrong with this situation? If, in fact, it is no longer possible to pay by coin, you should change your signs. An additional “remember, you can’t pay by coin any longer” sign wouldn’t hurt too. Second, you should instruct your staff that if customers are the victims of your incorrect signage, they should offer apologies, open the gate, and let them go on their way.

As it was, you kept me at the airport for an extra ten minutes, frustrated me, and caused me to think ill of you when I’d done nothing but sing your praises for many years. Was that worth the 50 cents you got for my troubles?


Nils's picture
Nils on April 2, 2006 - 19:41 Permalink

And you actually DID go back and go through that process once the gates were open? My God, you are a straight shooter and an upright citizen. They’d have not seen my car for dust once the gate was raised.

Ken's picture
Ken on April 2, 2006 - 20:21 Permalink

Really, it was just so you could gripe honourably. Thanks for the code to free parking: Pull up to dollar coin gate; say didn’t read sign; say can’t backup; drive on.

It’s a 3 step ruse, but you’ll save a buck. I doubt they have viddy there of the gate, that would raise their a/v standard to ‘drive-thru’ level security. Clearly unneccessary, based on the dollar fee. What are they hitting their, about $20-30 bucks a day. Negligable amount really over all, considering.

Just make it free, sell the gates and the machines and keep the commisionairre to call for tows on deadbeat parkers who stay more than 24 hours.

Or drop the commish, and just pay for a patrol by a towing company every 12 hours. Know what I’m saying?

10 Minutes's picture
10 Minutes on April 4, 2006 - 02:03 Permalink

A 10 Minute wait, which you mainly caused by your comments, frustrates you?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on April 4, 2006 - 02:37 Permalink

Dishonesty frustrates me.

Olle Jonsson's picture
Olle Jonsson on April 4, 2006 - 11:53 Permalink

Three cheers for Ken’s simpler way of handling parking at airports.

Nathan's picture
Nathan on April 4, 2006 - 14:39 Permalink

A few weeks ago I paid by coin at said gate. Good to know that is no longer is possible.

Eugene McDonald's picture
Eugene McDonald on April 6, 2006 - 13:22 Permalink


First of all, I apologize for the manner in which you were treated on Sunday — that is not how we do business or treat our clients at the airport. The system is not infallible but there was a technical problem on Sunday which has been fixed that allows payment at the coin unit as you correctly pointed out. For the life of me, I cannot tell you why you were told that you could not pay at the exit station because you can pay and users pay there every day. Furthermore, we do not direct users to go back in the parking lot, collect a ticket and then pay. We trust users to do the right thing and if we allow users out of the lot because there is a technical glitch we ask them to come in and pay the fee. Not suprisingly, a vast amjority will come and pay there fee because most people are trustworthy and honest. And yes, we do have video of the parking lots as well as other areas of the airport which is recorded and monitored!

We have discussed this issue with the individual involved and I trust this will not occur again. Again, I aplogize for the manner in which you were treated; if such an incident were to ever occur again, I would like for you to call the airport and register a complaint because if it had not been for a friend who discovered your blog I would not have known you had a problem at the airport. If we don’t know we have a problem, we cannot fix it. Thanks.

Eugene McDonald
Director, Operations
Charlottetown Airport Authority

Alan's picture
Alan on April 6, 2006 - 15:04 Permalink

What a polite response to an exceedingly minor matter.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on April 7, 2006 - 13:30 Permalink

Agreed. Thanks, Eugene, for taking the time to respond.