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A Guide to Airport Parking

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What You Need to Know

  1. Onsite parking is always cheaper when booked in advance. Even if you book on the day you may end up paying less than the ‘gate rate.’
  2. Just because onsite parking is run by the airport, that doesn’t mean it’s always the closest available parking to the terminal.
  3. If you choose to use a ‘meet and greet’ valet service, it’s worth checking out the level of cover provided for your car whilst it is being driven by someone else.
  4. Airport hotels often offer parking for the duration of you holiday in the price of a room, for even less than you’d otherwise pay. Perfect if you have an early morning flight.
  5. If you decide to save by leaving the car and getting a Taxi, arrange a pick up with a local firm for your return journey. The taxis at the airport will cost more as they normally belong to a single firm who have a monopoly.
  6. There are some great deals available in less obvious places. People living near airports sometimes even rent out their drives for reasonable rates.
  7. There are many online services that compare airport parking prices for you. They have relationships with car parks, allowing them to buy places in bulk and sell them on at a discount.

Arranging airport parking can add unwanted hassle and expense to your holiday travel plans. We all do our best to find cheap flights and good package deals, but we often forget to find ways to reduce the cost of long term parking stays. Fortunately, if you know how, there are a range of easy ways you can save money. Our guide to you airport parking highlights the pros and cons of the various options available to you.

On-site Parking

Often the easiest option available is on-site parking. That is, parking in a facility owned by the airport, linked to the main terminal buildings or at the very least on the airport grounds.

This keeps travel times down, with no extra connections to flights necessary. Another attractive feature is the security measures in place, which are substantially better than at most ‘off site’ car parks, normally including an extensive network of cameras and patrolling security staff.

The main downside, however, is the cost; on-site parking tends to be significantly more expensive than any of the other available options, especially long-term parking. Additionally, on-site parking can be hard to come by, particularly in times of peak demand, such as during the summer or Christmas holidays.

There are two main things you should bear in mind if you opt to for ‘on-site’ parking. The first is that it is always cheaper to pre-book than it is to turn up and pay at the gate. You can even go online to book cheap holiday parking using services that buy spaces in bulk and sell them on at a discount. It seems ridiculous but even if you forget, you can save by booking on the day. In fact, you could set off, book using a smartphone minutes before you arrive, and still save a bit of money.

The second thing to remember is that, whilst ‘on-site parking’ may be owned by the airport, it is not always closest to the actual terminal! There may be an ‘off-site’ car park that is actually closer.

Off-site Parking

As the name suggests, off-site parking is located away from the airport, usually on privately-owned property a short distance from the terminal buildings. The main advantage of this option, aside from the fact there are often far more spaces available than at the airport itself, is the cost. Long-term stays, for example to cover a two-week holiday, are much more affordable and more off-site facilities will offer discounts for extended bookings.

On the downside, this option is less convenient than on-site parking. In the main, off-site facilities run shuttle buses to carry their customers to the airport. While these trips may only take ten minutes, this nevertheless makes parking more time consuming. Be sure to check to that the cost of using this service is included in your booking.

Meet & Greet

Some UK airports, generally the larger ones, also offer their customers a 'meet and greet' parking service where customers are able to drive up to the terminal building and, for a fee, hand their keys over to a member of staff who will park their car for them. Upon their return, the passenger will simply wait while their car is retrieved and brought to the front of the arrivals hall.

This is understandably a popular choice with time-poor business flyers. However, for the regular traveller, the high cost of such a service makes this a luxury that most are happy to do without.

If this service sounds right for you, it is worth finding out what cover your car is subject to insurance wise once you hand over the keys. Accidents are very uncommon, but many services only offer limited cover and the last thing you want is to be facing a the expense of having your car repaired.

Hotel Parking Deals

Many hotels based at, or near airports offer parking for your holiday in the price of a room, often for little more or even less than the parking would cost alone. This is definitely worth taking advantage of if you have a very early flight and were thinking of staying near the airport anyway.

Local Deals

You may be able to save money by using a car park in the local area and proceeding to the airport from there. Often people who live near the airport will rent out there drive ways for holiday makers to park in, usually for very reasonable rates. In both cases security will be limited or non existent and you will have to factor in the cost of getting to the airport once you’re parked.

Cheaper Alternatives

If you feel confident leaving your car in your drive or garage whilst you are away, you can save money by getting to the airport using alternate means. A dedicated coach service booked well in advance can lead to incredible savings. Likewise, taking a train can save you money, however, specialist airport express services can be expensive and you can take the same route for less money on a normal train, the only draw back being that they’ll be a few extra stops.

Finally, pre-booking a taxi to and from the airport also turns out cheaper. Bear in mind that at the airport the airport normally sells out monopoly privileges to one taxi firm so that they can make more money from you. Pre-arrange with another taxi firm to be picked up and you will make further savings.

If you leave your car back at home using a residents only permit, check your council website to see if there are any parking suspensions coming up. You may get fined if your parking is suspended and your not around to move your car.

Finding the Best Deal

One of the easiest ways to find a good deal is to use online parking brokers. These services compare the parking options available to you and, due to their relationships with car parks, are able to buy spaces in bulk and sell them on to you at a discount price.

As things can, and frequently do go wrong with holiday arrangements and airline schedules it can be worth ensuring you have a ‘cancellation waiver’ as part of your booking arrangement. This will allow you to get a full refund in the event that you have to cancel your booking within 24 hours of your arranged arrival time. This only costs about £1 and can save you a hefty amount in late cancellation fees should a last minute change of plan be necessary.



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