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Unplugged from Charging Station

I recently parked at charging station at SFO and returned to find the car unplugged and the SAE J1772 adapter was gone (now I have to purchase a new one for $95) and the charge port closed. There was not another car using the charger at time of return. I am guessing I may have broken protocol as I had the car there for three days (longer than it required charging) but I also understood that the adapter could only be removed by owner. Anyone else have this type of experience. What is protocol when you need to use airport charger but have multi-day trip?


DFW has valet parking and they will plug you in and move your car when it is full. Not sure if other airports have this option but it seems like a fair option.

After the distance travel supercharger network is built out, maybe superchargers near airports would be helpful.

I know plenty of people that have to drive over 150 miles to an airport and park for two, three or more weeks at a time and then have to drive 150+ miles back home when they return.

How does one address this situation with an EV?

@carlk I, too, don't need a sign to be courteous and respectful of others. I went to kindergarten.

The key is having Superchargers close to all major airports. Car rental agencies are also usually in airports, and they need to refuel returned cars. Now I know why the Ft. Myers FL Supercharger is opening shortly located VERY close to RSW.

@Captain_Zap I'm not saying it isn't a conundrum but it might be prudent to accept that EVs might not yet be suitable for every possible transportation situation. It's coming, but baby steps.

It would seem that a MS, working properly, would retain the adapter unless the doors were unlocked. That will probably remain a mystery. Sorry to hear you lost your adapter.

@ampedrealtor, I think there is less information available than is required to comment on whether the OP's leaving his car in that spot was construed as rude behavior. It's (to me) highly unlikely that someone actually checked the spot daily, and after a couple of days decided that was just long enough and ripped the cord out, adapter and all.

The airport scenario is one of the worst because 1) you want enough miles to get home when you arrive from your flight, and 2) to achieve (1) you might need to leave the car plugged in.

Perhaps the right solution, but certainly not one that is available today, is to have a section of airport parking available for EVs, with charging available. Not necessarily rapid charging but *some* charging.

Going to LAX is a bit easier than some destinations because you can swing by the SC in Hawthorne before parking at the airport, and if more miles are necessary for the return trip, pop by for a top off before heading home. Similar options don't exist at all airports, though.

I plan to go to dinner tonight and I know the restaurant has two nice EV plug ins. I will use one if it's available, eat my dinner, and I don't feel like I'm being a hog when I do that. That's what public chargers are for. I know the folks in the Volt or Leaf or EV Prius will use it if I don't.

There is nothing analogous to this in the ICE world -- who would want to leave their car in a service station any longer than necessary? So we are working with a scarce resource (EV chargers) and a new behavior pattern (how long to charge and where). We'll all figure it out, but for now, we're all just finding the pain points. Solutions are sure to follow.

A lot of emotion in this thread. Take a deep breath and read the SFO policy for access to chargers.

"Plug-in vehicle parking stalls are available on a first come, first served basis."

They own the chargers so they get to set the policy.

It seems to me, having just read the whole thread, that there is no official protocol nor any consensus protocol. Clearly this will have to develop over time. Until then, I can't call out the OP for this. If I had gone for 2-3 days, I hope I would have thought it through and not plugged in, but I can see why OP did it the way it was done.

As for taking the charger adapter, why couldn't someone unplug from the charger with the car doors locked and push the attachment button and take the charger? No one could take the other end of the charger out of the car's port, but is it the same at the other end?

If you can't unplug from the charger either, then the 110 solution sounds good, but ONLY IF you can't unplug from the 110. Because otherwise, someone could simply unplug from a wall outlet, pop off the 110 adapter, and take it, right?

Airport workers should not be parking in long term lots and so they are not relevant. Only travelers should be parking in long term lots and associated charging stations.

Captain_Zap +1

Many of the posters here assumed that their personal situation applies to all. Yes, if you live close to an airport and have an 85kwh MS and you are traveling for several days, then you do not need to charge. However, for many who have to travel significant distance to get to an airport, being able to recharge the car while away is essential. And as noted above for Leaf owners, even short distances to the airport will require charging while away.

The real problem is the concept of 'first come, first served' at airport charging stations. For those in the situations above, it becomes a gamble to travel to the airport and find the spot occupied. I can see why someone might get upset in this situation, but do not blame the car who is legally and morally correct in charging his car at the airport while traveling, blame the airport for not installing more chargers.

We need to maximize the practicality of EV's. Telling people that they cannot charge at an airport while they are away only damages the reputation (and sales) of EV's.

Airport charging stations need to be viewed entirely different than normal charging stations. I am speaking of those in long-term parking garages. They are OBVIOUSLY intended for travellers due to their location. Only travellers park there. Therefore, it seems very obvious to me that the protocol is to use that parking spot for the length of your trip. Whether its 3 days or 2 weeks, imho, it doesn't matter.

It takes common courtesy to decide if you need to plug in for 2 weeks. If you are driving 85 miles each way to the airport then yes, you have a real need to use this spot even on a 2 week trip. However, if you are 5 miles from the airport then maybe it's not appropriate to tie up a spot for 14 days.

My biggest question is the same others have mentioned - how did they remove your adapter? When the car is locked the adapter stays locked in the charge port even if the charger has been removed. Did you leave your car unlocked?

Ok, here's some additional research:

SFO (as posted by @thehunt)
"Plug-in vehicle parking stalls are available on a first come, first served basis."
Does not have usage rules at this time (that I see).
Free electricity

Only available with Valet service
"DFW Airport Valet operators will manage the charging stations so they can be easily accessed from anywhere in the terminal parking areas, and so they can be made available to multiple customers as needed."

They are tied into Chargepoint; Access the station with an RFID enabled credit card or Chargepoint access card.
Free electricity
"If your flight is not at Terminal 5, just allow extra time and travel by AirTrain free of charge to your terminal." - This might imply that the airport KNOWS THAT PEOPLE PLUG IN AND FLY AWAY.

Aaaand after searching for Logan Airport, I came across this:

ATL has at least one long term parking facility (Peachy Parking) where you can leave your EV plugged in for the duration of your trip. A suggestion would be to seek out similar long term parking facilities that offer a plug option (even 110v is fine). I have used Peachy Parking several times, & have been very pleased. Would avoid the official airport parking spots for the issues stated in the above posts.

Oh yes, at Peachy Parking, they don't charge for the charge (sorry, couldn't resist)!

My two cents is pretty simple.

EV chargers at airports are for travelers. It doesn't make any difference how long you are parked. It also doesn't make any difference if it's a Leaf or MS... you don't know how far either has driven. The airports need to keep up with demand not demand hold back for the airport.

There are 15 stalls in the Domestic Garage at SFO. I don't think they were running out of spaces. It looks like there are a total of 26 or more stalls throughout the airport parking garages. If they ran out of EV charging it was a bigger problem then TeslaMert one car. I would report this incident to the airport security so they know to watch for people stealing charge equipment. This was someone messing with the car not looking for a charge spot.

+1000 @Sudre_

Ok, I have to add something. I agree that you shouldn't tie up a charger for longer than you need. In the summer this should be the time it takes to charge. In the winter this is for the duration of your trip. If it 15 deg outside and you leave you car for several days unplugged good luck driving home. Since any traveller could be gone 1 or more days this begs for multiple level 1 chargers which should be Cheep to install. The we could leave the level 2 chargers in short term parking.


Did you check with the Airport to see if they have your adapter? Strange that someone so pissed they would unplug and steal your adapter would have the courtesy to close charge port door.

To all of those giving the OP a hard time, "lighten up Francis." It's airport charging as many others have posted. Unless it is a small airport, parking is segregating to long term and that is what it is meant for. I agree that airports should put a little more thought into the process and provide more 120V outlets for long term parking and slower charge times. If they charge, which I assume they all will at some point, then that pushes it back to more expensive solutions. Maybe they will have conventionally metered spots with standard outlets at some point.

1) This is a symptom of shortage of charging stations:

Some suggest Superchargers which is a great idea but it may not be any time soon due to its expense and the lengthy process of persuading Tesla to change its business model.

Better yet: A cheaper and quicker way is to provide unlimited household electrical outlets, yes those cheapo 110V. We need to document the problem with a police report and petition SFO to cheaply solve this problem.

2) This is also a technical problem of unauthorized removal of adapter.

Tesla needs a report from the victim to reprogram his car particularly and also to revise an update to make sure this incidence will not be replicated and YOU will not be the next victim.

3) Your turn next:

Don't think that it won't happen to you because you are nice and thoughtful when you charge. There are curious cats around there whose intentions were not thieving but they just can't resist a Lego souvenir from a $100,000 car that has a green glow around it.

I'm also leaning towards @Sudre_'s statement. Airports are different and there should be no expectations that the car leaves the charging stations quickly. And I don't feel the harsh tone from some fellow members was appropriate.

The chargers at the airport are not superchargers. They might add 10 miles per hour to your range. So if you are dropping someone off, how long will you be at the airport? A half hour? That's 5 miles of charge. If you have an 85 Kwh Model S, that's a very small difference. If you have a Leaf, are you really going to show up at the airport with so little charge that you need those 5 miles to get home? I don't think so.

So chargers at the airport are practically useless if you're dropping someone off. That leaves only people who want to have their car charged when they return from their trip. Which means they are parking their car. Which means the charger is at a parking space. Which means anyone damaging their parked car is a vandal and an idiot.

If an Airport offers a valet service to move the cars once charged, and perhaps on a trip longer then a week or so bring it back for a top off periodically then that's fine. However if they don't and there are no signs banning it then it is absolutely fine for someone to park their car to charge whilst they are away. The only universal prerequisite for using a charger is do you have an EV, then there are any rules the charger installer wants to place on it, so if there was no signage banning long term parking and charging and the car was plugged in any other "protocol" is purely one persons opinion of their deservedness over another. Looking at the SFO charger info page there are chargers in long term parking, are people really suggesting that someone travelling for say 4 weeks with their car in long term parking where chargers are supplied should return to unplug and move their car after 8 hours?
There really is an unpleasant population on these boards who feel they have the right to dictate how people use charging infrastructure that someone else has paid for and installed, it's not yours, any "protocol" you think that exists is your opinion and unless you installed the charger then your opinion is worth no more then any one else's opinion.
One of the frustrating things about the charger use nazi's is they actually slow charger rollout. The more use a charger gets the more likely more chargers will get installed. Simple supply and demand. We should be encouraging people to use EV chargers to encourage more to be installed.

"Tesla owners mostly are not in desperate need of a charge when they get to the airport. But a LEAF owner certainly is."

Take a Nissan to the airport? Only if you have taken LEAF of your senses.

Blah blah protocol. I fly out of KOAK frequently and look forward to plugging into the charge stations in Premium parking BUT I don't rely on them being available because they are first come first served.

If you can use facilities that provide valet services- awesome. Otherwise, deal with the reality that you can't alway get what you want.

The OP did not deserve to be unplugged, and certainly did not deserve to have his property taken.

It is fine to leave your car plugged in for a multiday trip in an airport garage. Airports are different. People are taking trips when they use the garage. Often lasting days. Most airports don't valet the EVs off a charger when the car is full nor monitor the car as the battery drains when off the charger and parked. I will also note that most of the rest of the country is not like California with its high number of superchargers. While Tesla is moving quickly to install chargers many areas will not have a charger for over a year and that charger is likely not going to be near the airport. Many people will need the battery pack to fairly full to get home.

I just read through this whole thread, and I'm shocked that so many normally cool-headed people here had such a strong negative reaction, and were so quick to jump on the OP. Thank you to the recent posters who have pulled up useful info from the airport websites.

FWIW, I parked at SFO for 6 days a couple months ago (before the vampire load had been reduced). I parked in the long term parking garage and used the ChargePoint charger in one of the EV spaces. It never even crossed my mind that this would be inappropriate use. I have noticed these spaces were usually wide open when I used to drive by them in my ICE. In this setup there are 2 parking spaces that share a single charger. I parked in an open space, unplugged the Leaf that was finished charging (ChargePoint station showed that it was complete), and plugged it into my S. A couple days later when I checked my iPhone app, I saw that my car had been unplugged. Someone else parked in the spot left by the Leaf, and plugged it in to their car. I never thought the Leaf owner would be upset that I unplugged their car, and I was never upset that someone else unplugged my car. I thought we were all fellow pioneers in the age of EVs, and were happily making the system work :)

Now that my S holds it's charge much longer there is probably no need for me to plug in at the airport. But some who drive further or park longer may need to plug in, and I see no reason why they shouldn't. AFAIK, that's why the airport installed EV charging stations in the long term parking area (and labeled them "EV only"). Also, the more we use them, the more likely the airports are to install additional EV charging stations. It would be nice if we can demonstrate the need well before GenIII comes out and takes over the world!

You dont sit on a charger longer than you need. Ever.

So SFO has 15 chargers. Thats a lot! Oh... forgot. SFO handles 39 million passengers per year. Still think its the airports fault if you need 4 hours charge, and you occupy a slot for 3 days? And they dont have enough for the next guy? Im sure youl be perfectly fine when you come next year, and all the slots are full, because it will be the airports fault.

A charger is a precious resource. If anything ruins the reputation of electric cars, its going to be our own bad behavior.

How would you use the charger when going to a multi-day trip? Just don't use it ever? Then what's the point of the charger being there in the long term parking?

Jbunn, we have tried to be polite, you are doubling down so I'll be blunt, you don't get to dictate how we use chargers that you didn't install so frankly take your opinion and shove it. Chargers at airports are there for airport using EV owners, if they set usage rules thats fine, if you set usage rules for yourself that's fine, if you set usage rules for me and try to enforce them in any way Ill let you know where you stand, firmly and quickly.

Did SFO have a 30 minute sign?

Did SFO have a 4 hour sign?

Should we get George Zimmerman with his gun back for EV charger neighborhood watch?

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