The Friendly Skies: Guide to EV Charging at America's Airports

By · November 29, 2012

Charging a Volt at the Oakland Airport

Charging a Volt at the Oakland Airport.

Electric vehicle charging at airports is such a no-brainer—fly off and come back to a charged (and probably pre-heated) car—that it might make sense to write about cities that don’t have it. Instead, here’s a quick, non-definitive guide to what some forward-thinking regional facilities are doing, moving from the east coast to the west. All chargers are 240-volt, Level 2, unless otherwise specified, and all details are subject to change. Feel free to add more about you know, or have experienced, in the comments.

Logan Airport, Boston

The airport combined state and federal grants totaling $114,000 to install 13 charging stations in the parking garages, and the Boston Globe reports that many are in “prime locations near the elevators.” Coulomb ChargePoint units are featured, and here’s a map to find three of them. They’re free to use, and users are allowed to stay plugged in as long as they’re away. We hope this doesn’t lead to long-distance travelers hogging the chargers—EV etiquette comes into play here.

John F. Kennedy Airport, New York

There are reportedly five ChargePoint chargers in JFK’s yellow lot, ground level by Terminal 5. Electricity is free, but for identification purposes you have to get access through a credit or ChargePoint access card. If your flight is from another terminal, you can use JFK’s free AirTrain monorail to get around.

Reagan National Airport, Washington, DC

Four ChargePoint stations, servicing eight parking spaces, are on the ground (lower) level of Daily Garage B. Signs reserve them for “Electric Vehicles Only.” Both Level 1 and Level 2 are offered. Level 1 makes so much sense, because you'll usually have plenty of time while away to get a full charge. Again, you need to use an RIFD-enabled credit card, ChargePoint pass or smartphone app to gain access. Electricity is free.

On video, here's how they charge up at a hotel near Heathrow airport in London:

Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Baltimore

There are eight Level II charging stations in two parking garages, on Levels 1 and 9 of the Daily Garage and Level 1 of the Hourly Garage.

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, St. Louis

Super Park Lot A, directly across from Terminal 1, has five free EV charging stations. There is free shuttle bus service (natural gas) to both Terminals 1 and 2. Lambert is also operating a small fleet of GEM electric vehicles at Super Park.

Indianapolis International Airport

Indy hosts two Level 2 GE WattStations on the third floor of its parking garage, and one curbside by the departures area. “The hardware will be managed through the airport’s valet service,” reports SmartPlanet. The units were installed by Purdue University through a state energy grant, and their usage patterns will provide data for university research projects.

Midway and O’Hare International Airports, Chicago

There are two Level 2 stations in Hourly Parking on the first floor of the main Terminal Parking Garage at Midway, immediately across from the “blue” terminal elevator bank on pillar “1J.” The similarly named garage at O’Hare is also so-equipped. This service isn’t free—electricity is sold in 90 minute increments for approximately $4.

Denver International Airport

There are two Juice Bars (from Hartford, Connecticut’s Green Garage Associates) in Indoor Valet at the airport’s Canopy Parking, and four in Covered Self Parking. Each Juice Bar can charge four cars simultaneously, and offers both Level 1 and Level 2 charging. There’s no charge for electricity, but you have to pay for the parking.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport

DWF hosts two charging ports, maintained by DFW Airport Valet, and is monitoring their use to see if more are needed. The units are two-port 240-volt PEP stations made by Hubbell, and they’re located on the valet level of Terminal D. In an interesting twist, if your plans take you to other than Terminal D, you can drop your EV off at any DFW Airport Valet stand and they’ll plug then in for you.

Finding EV Charging at SFO

Lots of options for charging up at SFO.

San Francisco International Airport

You’d expect this city to be in the vanguard, and it is. “SFO now offers electric plug-in vehicle preferred parking in all of our public garages,” the airport says. “Best of all, there’s no charge for the charge!” Grab your “Green Vehicle Parking” stall, all located at close-in garages, on a first-come, first-served basis. Some locations include International Terminal Garage A (two stalls) and G (three stalls), and long-term parking (with four stalls). The Domestic Garage is the jackpot—15 stalls. Both Level 1 and 2 are offered, but visitors are asked to bring their own charging cable for Level 1.

Oakland International Airport

OAK has eight dual ChargePoint units, as well as some legacy chargers from SPI, AVI and AvCon. Look to plug in at the Premier Parking Lot if you want the latest J1772 standard, because the legacy units are in Economy and Daily. You need a smart card.


· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

Detroit Waye International Airport (DTW) Has multiple Level II dedicated parking spaces in both the North Terminal parking deck as well as the North Terminal (Blue) Deck. Charging is free, parking is not.

· · 5 years ago

Los Angeles International LAX has several Level II in the North and South termial parking East end. Charging and Parking is free.

· · 5 years ago

Spending thousands of dollars to install level 2 charging equipment at airports is an extraordinary waste of money. The vast majority of cars left at airport parking are for more than 24 hours and most cars that don't have Tesla sized battery packs will be fully charged from a 120v source anyway.

Airports could install dozens of simple 20amp receptacles at a fraction of the cost and offer free charging on them. Then install a few level 2 chargers for people with same day round trips and charge a fee to discourage people that don't really need to use them. Finally add one DC quick charger for people dropping off or picking up people and all the bases would be covered.

· Michael Chiacos (not verified) · 5 years ago

I agree with Tom on all points.

Also, airports should focus on Level 1 charging that provide a J1772 connectors. I've never seen anyone use their portable charge cord on a Coulomb dual Level 1/2, and I personally wouldn't want to leave my $500 charger in a public place for a few days.....

· · 5 years ago


I agree that if you are the one taking the flight, Level 1 will almost always suffice. However, Level 2 charging at hourly parking does make sense. When I go to the SFO international terminal to pick someone up, it would be nice to add a meaningful charge while I wait for them to come out of Customs & Immigration.

· · 5 years ago

@Jim Motavalli,

Its good that you brought up this issue. I agree with Tom Moloughney and Anthony Myers and suggest that the issue of airport parking needs to go a lot deeper than you've dug. Unfortunately, since you are new to the EV world, you missed a few serious but subtle deficiencies in these airport's deployments of EV charging infrastructure. I suggest that most of the places I've seen and you've listed are at best irresponsible and possibly negligent use of taxpayer money and are of little or no value to the EV driver. Stupid greenwashing at its best.
I've spent about 40 days this year, parked at LAX with a Nissan Leaf which must be full in order for me to make the drive home when I return so maybe I have a little more experience with this issue than many. Here are the problems I see:

1) I'll echo what Tom said. That $114K wasted at Logan could have gone for probably over 100 120v electrical outlets in long-term parking that would serve 100% of the long-term parking customers with EVs whether they came from close or far. Those from close by would be able to condition their batteries and passenger compartments so they were comfortable from their smartphone apps. Those from as far as the car's range could get enough charge to make it all the way home as well after 1 or 2 days parked (even a Tesla Roadster can charge 200 miles of range in about 1.5 days). Basically, that $114K is a waste of money.

2) My company won't pay the $30/day for a week or 2 of short term parking where the chargers are in most of the places you mention. This pretty much makes them totally useless for week-long business travelers like me. Basically a waste of money

3) People who normally park in short term parking are usally doing so to pick people up from the airport. For this, they normally spend less than an hour. A Level 2 charger provides at best, about 25 miles of charge in an hour. With the Leaf, Volt, and iMiev's slow 16 amp maximum, however, this slows to closer to 13 miles per hour. This means that the majority of short-term parking customers can only get 13 miles of range in the time they are parked. This is hardly a useful service since most airports draw customers from 100 miles around them. That 13 extra miles of range will only make a difference for a very small part of the population. Basically, a waste of money.

4) The most installed that you mentioned is 13 charging stations. In the metropolitan areas you describe, there will probably be 10s of thousands of EVs within the next 2 or 3 years. The probability of there being an open charging space will be close to zero. My experience at LAX is that I find an open charger only about 10% of the times I go there and there are about 36 chargers at LAX. If anyone needs charging, they won't be able to drive their EV to the airport. If they don't need to, why waste the money installing chargers? Basically a waste of money.

5) The only thing you've found that actually would work are when the chargers are in the valet parking. Are we using government money to subsidize a premium service here when it could serve a much larger part of the population if it were just spent intelligently?

The most reliable place for charging that I've found at many airports is a place you totally missed. That is at the off-airport private parking lots. I've used these at BUR and SLC and know that many at LAX (Parking Spot and Wallypark) offer to let you plug into a 120v outlet, either in regular parking or their valets will ensure you're taken care of. These don't take a dollar of taxpayer money to support and the owners will be motivated to keep them sustainable by adding more should the need grow.

· · 5 years ago

@Michael Chiacos,
Most J1772 charging connectors, including the Level 1 one for the NIssan Leaf, allow you to lock them to your car. I do this all the time.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

Off-airport long term parking could quite inexpensively attract EV owners with Level 1 charging. They could even optimize charging by having their attendant or shuttle drivers switch chargers between cars so that your car is at 100% charge for the time you arrive back.

· · 5 years ago

Portland International Airport (PDX) has six level 2 stations, 4 are located on the fourth floor of the garage near the south skybridge and 2 are in valet parking.

Here are some photos:
o Plug-in Prii @ PDX
o Volts at PDX

· · 5 years ago

Another comment about the Portland Airport. There is an IKEA with EVSEs that is not too far from the airport. If you are going to pick people up, stopping at the IKEA and charging while you wait for the "we here" phone call is a great way to avoid parking fees and while grabbing a few watt-hours.

· · 5 years ago

@Tom Moloughney, I agree that level 1 would be cheaper and adequate for most needs airport needs. However, there is another consideration: to use it, you need to bring your own EVSE. This means you have to remember it, secure it, & hope that it is not vandalized or stolen... It is so much easier to just grab a J-plug and plug in.

· · 5 years ago

@Patrick Connor,
See my comment above about locking your portable EVSE. As far as vandalism, I'd much prefer someone vandalize my $500 portable EVSE than my $25K car which I leave at the airport. The car can be vandalized with a key, causing $1,000 worth of damage.

· Jim McL (not verified) · 5 years ago

The only way you can cause $1000 of damage to a car with a key is if it is made with that antique stamped steel with paint technology.

A modern car made with advanced polymer body panels like the Think City EV and the older Saturns are much harder to damage. You might need an axe to do $1000 damage in a short time.

· · 5 years ago

Patrick: Sure pulling up to a nice level 2 charger and simply grabbing the connector and plugging in is much more convenient than going into the trunk, unwinding the extension cord and using your level 1 convenience charger, but as EX said, most do lock and if they don't you can easily modify it to add a lock. Plus I don't think it's much to remember to bring it because if you are like everyone else I know you keep it in your car all the time in the compartment it comes in tucked away nicely in the hatch.

If you don't carry it with you all the time you should have no problem remembering it because you do plan to go to an airport, you usually don't just end up there one day like you could at a coffee shop or restaurant. If you remember to pack your carry on bag you should be able to remember your EVSE.

The point is, there are limited funds for installing public charging and it's ridiculous to me for us to spend $4,000 for a single Coulomb or Blink public charger when a simply 20amp, 120V outlet will do just fine for a vast majority of the time. I'm not saying we don't need any level 2 chargers at airports, just not that many. I'd like to see the EV parking area have 30 or 40 simple 120V outlets that were free to use, 5 -10 Level 2 chargers that you pay to use and one DC quick charge station. All of this could probably be accomplished for well under $100,000 or about what it would cost for 20-25 level 2 stations.

· Chris C. (not verified) · 5 years ago

I completely agree with Tom et al that Level 1 charging is plenty for most airport parking. I do think that Level 2 and DC Fast Charging stations have their places in short term parking, but only a few of them. Spend the bulk of the money on regular outlets in the FAR CORNERS of the lots.

For Jim's listing above ... the Atlanta airport itself doesn't have any chargers although it's constantly rumored to be getting them "soon". However, there is a nearby parking operation offsite that offers Level 1 outlets for charging, with reserved parking spaces!

Details and photos are here:

I've used the site and simply locked my Level 1 charger cord to my wheel with a bicycle lock. Worked great!

There's another place nearby that was working on installing Level 2 chargers, to be managed by their valets (another smart solution), but I haven't heard whether they are done yet.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

No LAX list? Funny that there are more EVs here than anywhere. Looks as if the writer needs to seriously update this article.

· Mark Renburke (not verified) · 5 years ago

@Patrick, others, re: "bring your own EVSE"

I agree, do this often, and yes, secure cable with a padlock through the wheel well, just in case.

But point is, beyond outlets there are now some great, rugged L1 "station" products most notably Leviton's L1 EVC11:

Why not have a row of 10 of these set up in airport long term parking, default charging at 7.5 amps?

At ~$700 each + installation, that's easily 10 for the price of just *one* typical ChargePoint L2!

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