Personal Finance

How to cut your airport parking costs

Airport parking costs have soared, adding even more expense for holidaymakers jetting off for a well deserved break. 

Personal insolvency provider Creditfix analysed parking costs at all UK airports for a standard two-week stay in June this year, reported YourMoney. It found an average annual increase of £79.50 for two weeks’ parking – a rise of 88%. 

Gatwick had the biggest increase, with costs rising from £93 to £335 in a year – a 260% rise. This was followed by a 215% rise at Leeds Bradford, with prices up from £68 to £214, while Birmingham airport was the third worst with prices up 200% from £58.15 to £175.43. 

“It comes as airports have been grappling with vast financial losses incurred during the pandemic,” said The Telegraph, but is a “further blow to families already facing surging costs for travel and accommodation abroad”. 

“It’s not unusual to pay more than £50 a day if you book through the airport,” explained Money.co.uk, “which could mean a £400 expense for a week-long holiday.” 

There are ways to make savings, though, if you plan ahead. 

Book early 

“The most expensive course of action is to arrive at the airport and pay the car park’s gate price,” said HolidayExtras. 

Flights and accommodation are often cheaper if you can book well in advance, explained The Money Edit. And it’s often the same when it comes to parking at an airport too. 

The exact savings will vary depending on the airport. Heathrow passengers can get special prices for booking online in advance, “which aren’t available should you simply turn up on the day”, added the financial website. Birmingham airport claims that customers can save up to 60% by being organised and booking ahead. 

Official short stay vs. long stay 

Using an airport’s official car parks is one of the more expensive options. But as the Big Family Little Adventures blog points out, “it will leave your car in the trustworthy hands of the airport provider”. These car parks are “typically supervised by police patrols and/or security cameras”.

Most airports offer short- and long-stay parking. Short-stay is designed for minibreaks and business trips while long-stay is better if you are flying long-haul, says Money.co.uk.  

They do tend to be more expensive than private operators, “so make sure you’ve explored other options before you sign on the dotted line”.  

Another option is “meet and greet” parking where you leave your keys with a valet and they park your car. This is useful if you have a lot of luggage or mobility issues, added Money.co.uk “but it does come at a cost”. 

Park off-site 

Off-site car parks are run by private, third-party companies that lay on regular transport to the terminal building, explained MoneySavingExpert. “The best of these are just as quick and convenient as on-site parking.” 

Using a car park that’s further away from the airport can often work out cheaper, added HolidayExtras. This can be a good option if you “don’t mind catching a quick transfer”. 

Just remember to factor in the extra time for getting to the terminal itself, added The Money Edit. 

You can compare prices for on-site and off-site parking on comparison website such as Holiday Extras, Looking4Parking and SkyParkSecure as well as Parkos.

Find a private parking place 

Another option is parking in someone’s drive or garage. Websites such as justpark.co.uk or parklet.co.uk let you search for available spaces from homeowners who live close to an airport renting out their driveway or parking place. 

This option is unlikely to be considerably cheaper than traditional airport parking, warned Which? “and there are no security guarantees”.  

Hotels 

“Most airports have hotels on site,” explained The Money Edit, “which can come in particularly useful if you have an early flight.” Combining airport parking and a hotel stay “may mean that your parking costs are reduced”. 

Even if you do find a good deal, added Which?, be aware that not all parking is actually at the hotel you book with. “Often you’ll have to drive yourself from there to the local off-site car park – making time a consideration.” 

Do you need to drive? 

“Even done right, airport parking can be pricey,” said MoneySavingExpert. “The longer you’re away the more it costs, so quickly weigh up alternatives” such as a taxi, train or coach. 

You could even try persuading a relative to drop you off “with promises of duty-free goodies”. 

Marc Shoffman is an award-winning freelance journalist, specialising in business, property and personal finance. He has a master’s degree in financial journalism from City University and has previously written for FT Adviser, This Is Money, the Mail on Sunday and MoneyWeek. This article is based on information first published on The Week’s sister site, The Money Edit.

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