The Prestige: Airport Replaces Handicap Parking With ‘Lexus-only’ Spaces

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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