If you’re jetting off on holiday anytime soon you won’t want to waste money on airport parking. Our tips should help keep the cost of parking down so you have more money to spend while you’re away. There are vast differences in price for essentially the same service, and some airports can be worse than others. And a bit of forward planning can save you a lot of money too.
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You can do this long before you’re ready to book your parking. It’s a great, easy way of finding out about the latest deals and offers without having to trawl the internet.
Book in advance
Even if you’re able to book only 24 or 48 hours ahead of your trip, it’s still worth doing this – the difference in cost of booking advance instead of simply turning up at a long stay car park could be more than £100.
We checked prices at London Gatwick’s Long Stay car park – book in advance for a week’s parking and you’ll pay £72 instead of the standard rate of £145. The saving you’ll make at London Heathrow is even bigger during peak season – book in advance and it’s £82.20 for a week, don’t book and you’ll pay £187.50 – that’s £105.30 more.
Book early to get the best prices
Car parks are keen to get you to book early, so often offer the cheapest deals for those who book more than a month in advance. So, book your parking as soon as you’ve booked your flights – make it part of the process of booking your holiday, and you can rest easy knowing that you don’t have to worry about it later on.
Check official parking and comparison sites
The best price may not appear on a company’s own website, so it’s worth cross-checking on one or two comparison sites so you don’t pay over the odds.
It’s also well worth looking further afield than the main airport car parking websites – online agents such as holidayextras.co.uk and parkbcp.co.uk have a wider range choices, and comparison sites such as gosimply.com, parking4less.com and travelsupermarket.com have even more off-airport companies offering cheap deals.
Choose a company with good to excellent customer reviews
Don’t just go for the cheapest deal you can find. Check that the car park operator belongs to the British Parking Association and that the car park has been awarded a Park Mark so you’ll know it’s been vetted by the police and has measures in place to create a safe environment.
Also read online reviews from previous customers to ensure you’re picking a parking operator who has a good reputation to uphold, so will look after you and your car properly. Remember, the cheapest option won’t always be the best.
Consider ‘Meet & Greet’ parking
This option lets you drive up to the Departures building or short stay car park and hand your keys to a waiting driver who will drive your car to a car park; your car will be brought back to the drop-off point when you return to the airport.
It used to be a far more expensive option than off-airport parking, but as more companies have begun to offer it prices have fallen, and if you can find a good deal it may cost little more than off-airport alternatives.
Again the same caveat applies, though – check the credentials of the company and read online reviews to ensure they are reputable. It’s also important to ensure that your car will be kept in a locked compound with security so you can be sure it will be there when you come back.
See if you can find hotel booking & parking deals
You can add a night in a hotel to your car parking deal for less than £50, which is far cheaper than booking both things separately. Check if there’s a fee for using the hotel’s airport minibus – they’re usually less than £5 each way.
Look for price guarantees & booking incentives
Some online agents, such as holidayextras.com, operate a price match guarantee, so if you find the same parking deal cheaper elsewhere it will match that price. Others will send you discount vouchers if you register for email newsletters with them.
Does your deal allow a refund if your flight is cancelled?
It’s bad enough if circumstances force you to cancel your holiday, so you won’t want the added expense of having to pay for car parking you can no longer use. So check the terms and conditions to see if you can cancel and get a full refund if you have to cancel, and note if there is a cut-off date after which you can’t cancel.
Don’t pay to drop off
If you’re just dropping a friend or relative off at an airport check the cost of parking in the long stay car park for a short time. At Gatwick you can park in its long stay car park for up to two hours for free – park in the short stay car park for the same time and you’ll pay £12. Some airports even charge you simply to drive into the drop-off/pick-up area – £3.50 at Stansted, for example.