Unless you like paying over the odds, you should never ever just turn up at an airport car park, without pre-booking your parking for the period of your travel!
Travelling to destinations around the world is more accessible than ever, thanks to the quick & easy access to cheap flights and accommodation. However, when it comes to the parts of our holiday we carry out in the UK, we consistently pay too much, especially when it comes to airport parking.
Airport car park charges can be up to 60% more than the pre-booked internet prices that are available online & the earlier you book, the more likely you are to get the best prices. These prices are withdrawn as you get closer to the departure date and are subject to availability, but you can still save money, even if you leave it to the departure day to pre-book your parking! Parking prices at UK airports are also cheaper at certain times of the year, so if you can choose when you travel, then selecting off-peak dates could save you up to a THIRD.
Why should I consider pre-booking airport car parking?
- To save money - pre-booked prices can represent great savings over just arriving at an airport car park. You can save up to 60% on the cost of parking your car, as opposed to turning up & paying on the day.
- To save time - no need to queue up to pay your car park charges on your return to the UK. Plus, with Meet & Greet options, you can save even more time by going directly to the terminal and your car is valet parked for you.
- To guarantee your parking space - if you have pre-booked your car parking, the space is guaranteed and at peak times, airport car parks can get very busy.
There are lots of different types of car park available & not all types are available at all airports. Once you've found the cheapest price it doesn't necessarily mean it'll be the best option for you. Here's a quick guide to what your choices usually are:
This is the name given to car parks operated by the British Airports Authority (BAA). It basically means that the car park is on BAA land, but occasionally 'off-site' car parks can actually work out to be closer to the terminal building.
Simply any car park that isn't part of the airport complex itself. In other words this is the name given to the (invariably cheaper) car parks operated by third-party companies, which lay on regular transport (transfers) to the terminal building. The best of these are just as quick and convenient as on-site, if not more so!
Meet and Greet (sometimes known as Valet parking)
You drive to the terminal and are met by a driver who takes your car keys and then parks your car for you. Then, when you return to the UK, the car will be waiting back at the terminal building again, for you to drive straight off home. Some companies also offer to valet your car, or even service it before returning it to you as well. This is a great service, but will usually be expensive.
Airparks offer low cost off-airport parking. Promoting a focus on value and excellent customer service means repeat customers are a strong business for Airparks who spread their reputation largely through word of mouth, offering friendly staff and efficient service. Although the car parks are not within the airport boundary, the transfer times are very good and their competitive rates make them very popular.
Local car parks
Occasionally, small companies with spare land offer their own airport parking services & try to undercut the mainstream competition on price. On the downside, they generally don't offer anything like the same level of security; almost all airport car parks have 24 hour CCTV and guard patrols, whereas local services may be less secure and availability is more limited, so check first and weigh these downsides against the price if considering one.
It's generally advisable to use a recognised supplier of airport parking as they will be only offering secure car parking & you can park your car & relax on your holiday with peace of mind.
Another reason for checking out airport parking prices online is if you are considering taking a taxi to the airport. You could actually save up to half the taxi fare by pre-booking airport parking instead! Or why not consider booking a hotel packaged WITH parking. At certain times of the year, especially August and September, a hotel & parking package can work out to be up to £20 cheaper than parking on its own! If you have an early check-in time, staying overnight in an airport hotel takes all the stress out of getting to the airport on time & leaves you relaxed & ready to fly.
The bottom line is never pay on the day; if you see someone putting money into a parking machine at the airport, then why not do them a favour and suggest they pre-book their airport parking next time they travel to save themselves up to 60% in charges - they'll probably thank you for it!!