Airport car parking can be hugely expensive - especially if you just turn up at the car park. A far better bet is to book your parking in advance of your travels. This gives you the opportunity to compare not just airport parking charges, but also the customer satisfaction ratings different suppliers have achieved.
Airport parking charges vary considerably from airport to airport. This is down not just to the cost of land or staff cost but also to the competition between local suppliers. With over half of airport visitors getting there by car, there is a good reason why that competition should be healthy!
Whilst many only consider the obvious option of the airport's own on-site short, medium and long-stay car parks, it is well worthwhile also looking at other options including privately owned car parks outside the airport grounds with shuttle services, or valet or meet-and-greet parking services.
From multi storey car parks directly connected to airport terminals to large tarmac cover facilities on the opposite side of the airport to the terminal on site car parking, it is worth researching before deciding which is your chosen option. Transfer times are normally some of the shortest on offer, although in some locations off airport, car parks can actually be quicker to get to than long stay on airport car parks. Shuttle services to long stay on airport car parks tend to be regular and do not rely on you calling up for transport when you are in arrivals.
On airport car parks are normally more expensive compared with off airport facilities, although do compare prices before assuming this will also be the case for you. Over Christmas, or in the peak Summer holiday period, you can often find special deals in the business parking areas of on airport car parks when the airport knows it will get fewer business visitors.
Booking before you travel will, however, always be cheaper - we have tested this regularly and have found prices quoted online at up to a quarter of the walk in price. Like airlines and hotel car park companies know that an empty space is just lost revenue to them so will, using a fluid pricing system, move prices up and down to maximise their revenue. Normally that means prices are cheapest a few months ahead of the booking date, and certainly more than 30 days which is the last date you will qualify for the cheapest SuperSaver offers. These deals do often mean, though, that you are not able to claim a refund if you need to cancel so do check your travel insurance to ensure you can claim this cost back if necessary.
If you can't, it will probably only cost a pound or two more to get a more flexible deal so consider those as well.
Off airport car parks are located outside of the airport perimeter fence and are privately owned concerns. They often offer the cheapest car park deals.
They will offer a minibus or bus transfer to the airport terminal which can be a regularly scheduled service or an on demand facility. If you are landing in the middle of the night, be aware that this can mean a slight delay in being picked up especially at multi terminal airports as there may only be one or two shuttles available at very off peak times.
Also watch out for the Park Mark logo. This means the facility has been vetted by the police for both safety and security .
Meet and greet or valet airport car parking means you drop off at the terminal entrance and have it delivered back to you at the terminal when you return. Often you have to phone the parking company as you get close to the airport to ensure there is a driver ready to meet you, and also contact them on your return so they can deliver the car back to you.
Once again look out for the Park Mark logo - it's even more important in this case as you are unlikely to see where your car is actually parked.
If you also need an overnight stay at the start or end of your holiday do consider a hotel and parking combined deal. You can save money, and some hotels will even throw in free parking for a number of days if you stay overnight with them. Watch out for any charges for transfers to and from the airport, as if you are a larger party this can add up.
Whichever your option it's well worthwhile doing your research before you book, as this is an area where you can end up paying vastly different prices for exactly the same service.
This content was last reviewed on 26/09/2023