Summer holidaymakers could save HUNDREDS by booking airport car parking now – with Heathrow charging hefty £540 to those who pay on arrival
- Booking ahead or choosing a non-airport car park can save a lot of money
- Comparison sites can do much of the legwork and find the cheapest spaces
- We look at the most and least expensive options for the major UK airports
Holidaymakers jetting off abroad this summer should book their airport car parking now – as it could save them hundreds of pounds.
Comparison websites such as Airport Parking and Hotels, Parking4Less and Airport Parking Shop can do much of the legwork on your behalf by finding car parks close to – or at – the airport you are flying from.
Some services offer a ‘meet-and-greet’ facility where you drop off your car at the airport, hand the keys to someone who then takes your vehicle and parks it somewhere secure a few miles away. You then walk straight to the departure terminal.
Plan ahead: Comparison websites such as Airport Parking and Hotels, Parking4Less and Airport Parking Shop can do much of the legwork on your behalf
On return from your vacation, you then contact the car park company and they return your vehicle to the same drop-off point you departed from – and hand back your car keys.
The main alternative is ‘drop-and-go’ where you park the car perhaps ten minutes from the airport and get a lift to your terminal via a regular bus service or a vehicle pick- up.
Any inconvenience from these options is made up for by the savings you can expect to make compared to if you use an official short or long-term stay airport car park.
Those who simply turn up at an airport without booking ahead can pay as much as £410 extra for a week at a busy airport such as Heathrow.
But although you make savings shopping around in advance, the best deals soon get snapped up. Booking now, even if your summer holiday is in a few months’ time, means you could pay almost half the price for a similar service.
For example, roll up at Gatwick for a week’s holiday and you can pay £315 to park your car.
Book in advance for a week commencing July 11, and you can pay as little as £86 with a meet-and-greet service from Ace Parking.
Book it in July and you could pay £136 or more for an equivalent deal.
Look out for parking crooks
Nick Caunter, managing director of comparison website Airport Parking and Hotels, says: ‘Of course, it is not all about just saving money – you also want to ensure that your vehicle is going to be kept safe and secure while away on holiday.’
He adds: ‘So find out if the car park operator is a member of a police-approved safe parking scheme – and can show you a ‘Park Mark’ logo. Such a logo ensures proven standards of security. For example, adequate lighting and camera surveillance.’
All airports should provide lists of approved car park operators. Motorists should be aware that car parking is an unregulated market, so there are cowboy operators out there.
Some have been known to take vehicles for a spin or simply park them on the roadside, leaving them vulnerable to theft.
Motorists should be aware that car parking is an unregulated market, so there are cowboy operators out there
Irrespective of provider, it is important not to leave any valuables inside a parked vehicle.
Take a note of your mileage if using a meet-and-greet service – to see how far it has travelled in your absence.
When opting for a drop-and-go service, check on how far you will be parking from the airport and how often buses pick up passengers.
You might consider adding half an hour to your journey time to ensure you do not have to rush through check-in and passport control.
If you are driving a long way to an airport to catch an early flight it might work out more convenient – and cheaper – to stay at a local hotel where you can park your car while away. Holiday Inn, Travelodge, Ibis and Hilton are among those who provide such a service.
Another option is to park on the driveway of a homeowner who rents it out through services such as Park On My Drive and Your Parking Space. Some homeowners may be willing to drop you off at the airport as part of the deal.