How to get cheap airport parking
If you’re planning a holiday and you’re worried about the extra expense of airport parking, here are some essential tips to help keep costs down. In this guide, Latest Deals breaks down how to find cheap airport parking, any alternatives that are better value, and everything else you need to know.
Airport parking and COVID
With travel restrictions changing all the time, at the moment it’s a good idea to look at flexible airport parking options, or with free cancellation. That way if your trip is postponed or cancelled you won’t be out of pocket.
So, before booking any airport parking, make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully, and check for any exclusions, for example related to Covid.
Is airport parking covered by insurance?
If the airport parking you booked was non-refundable and your holiday is cancelled or postponed, you can contact your travel insurer to see if you’re covered. However, often you won’t be covered for extras such as airport parking, or if you’ve had to cancel due to Covid (for example changing government restrictions).
As there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to claim back any money lost on airport parking, it’s essential that you consider flexible and free-cancellation options when you’re booking.
5 tips to get cheap airport parking
1. Book early
Generally with airport parking, the earlier you book the cheaper it will be. If parking at the airport is the best course of action for you, ideally you should book a flexible option as early as possible. If you have forgotten to make the booking, even if you do it just before you leave for the airport, you will likely get a better price than if you just turn up and pay on the day, so anything is better than nothing.
2. Don’t just compare price
Of course it’s important to compare prices before booking your airport parking. You can use sites such as Holiday Extras and Airport Parking Shop to help you. Don’t forget to also look on the airport’s website. Sometimes there are discounts if you sign up to their newsletter, or they’ll price match.
However, when it comes to airport parking there are various different options, so it’s important not just to compare prices, as the cheapest option may not be the best for what you need. Different options include:
- On-site parking
On-site parking means you’re parking at the airport operator’s own car parks.
- Off-site parking
Off-site parking is parking outside of the airport complex. Often, this means a more affordable car park operated by a third party. Usually, these third parties will offer regular transport from the car park to the airport.
- Meet and greet parking
The meet and greet option is essentially valet parking. You leave your car at the terminal and drop your keys with a driver. They will then park it somewhere while you’re away, and have it back at the terminal upon your return.
This can be a more expensive option, but it’s worth comparing the prices especially if you would have to pay for transfers with off-site parking.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’re opting for meet and greet parking, make sure you check their cover policy, in case anything happens to the vehicle while you are away.
- Local car parks
You may be able to find local car parks that offer long-stay parking options. Often, businesses located near to an airport with some extra land will offer parking for travellers. It’s important to remember that even if local car parks can be cheaper, they likely won’t offer the same level of security, and there may be limited availability.
3. Check terms and conditions
It’s important that you check the terms and conditions carefully before booking your airport parking. Some options will have exclusions that may end up costing you more money. Key things to look out for are:
It’s important to check that the car park you’re leaving your car in is secure. You don’t want to be worrying about the safety of your vehicle while you’re enjoying your holiday. Most airport car parks will have cameras and often security, while other local car parks may not offer this. Either way, it’s a good idea to confirm this before booking your airport parking.
- Free cancellation
With some airport parking options, you can add on a free cancellation option for a small, extra fee. This is a good idea if your travel plans are flexible, and particularly in the current climate with travel restrictions due to Covid.
- Transfers to terminal
If you’re choosing to park off-site or at a local car park, check the transport options available. If your flight is early in the morning or late at night, make sure you will be able to get transport.
You can also check whether the cost of transfers to the terminal is included in the parking cost or not. If it isn’t, don’t forget to factor this in when you’re comparing airport parking options.
- Late charges
You can incur extra charges if you drop your car off too early, or pick it up too late, so it’s important to check this before booking your airport parking. Ideally if you need to book a slot for pick-up, you should allow yourself extra time, in case your flight is delayed.
4. Check public transport options
Generally speaking, airport parking is pretty pricey, so it’s worth looking at public transport options to see if you can find a cheaper alternative. Catching the train to the airport, taking a taxi or a coach may be more affordable, so it’s worth looking into before booking anything. Or, you may be able to persuade a relative to drop you off for free!
If you’re planning on using public transport to get to the airport, there are a couple of things you can do to keep costs down. Firstly, if you’re catching the train, don’t opt for a specific airport express train, as they are usually more expensive. If you’re using a taxi, make sure you pre-book, rather than just hailing one at the airport, this will keep the price down. Or, you can opt for an affordable airport coach. These are often the cheapest option, but can take a long time, so it depends if you’re willing to sacrifice.
5. Park on a friend’s driveway
If you know someone who lives near the airport you’re travelling from, they might be willing to let you park on their drive or leave your car in their garage for the time you’re away. Obviously this is likely the cheapest option, and you may even convince them to drop you off at the airport before your flight.
If you don’t know a friend who lives close or who is willing to let you leave your car with them, companies such as Just Park or Parklet can provide options from private homeowners, looking to make a bit of extra money.
Or, certain airports may offer airport parking alternatives. For example, at Gatwick Airport you can use Park and Earn, a service that means someone can rent your car whilst you’re away. Usually you can set limits, such as mileage and it’s a way of earning some extra money, up to £160 per week, if it’s something you’re interested in.
Hotel parking packages
If you’re travelling to get to the airport and are planning on an overnight stay at a nearby airport hotel, you may be able to find a parking package for the length of your trip.
This likely won’t be much cheaper than the airport parking charge, but you will be getting the accommodation as well.
If you’re booking an airport hotel parking package, make sure you check if they include free transfers to and from the airport.