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UK Airport Parking Costs, and When to Book to Save £££

Booking in advance could HALF your airport parking costs, new research has revealed.

The research, conducted by travel insurance provider Avanti Travel Insurance, included an in-depth look at the price of car parking at the UK’s 15 largest international airports by passenger numbers, comparing pre-booking with on-the-day, as well as investigating drop-off charges and fines.

At Heathrow and Gatwick, pre-booking prices are currently the same as on-day prices, although there are big price differences across their car parks. At Edinburgh Airport, car parking is just cheap whether you book in advance or not. But at seven other UK airports, you can save £50 or more by booking in advance.

Edinburgh has both the cheapest pre-booked (£16.99) and on-day costs (£23.99). In comparison, London City has the most expensive pre-booked costs (£134.78), with advance bookings only and no on-day parking option. Looking at the cheapest online prices, overall for a week’s parking, London airports are £18/£20 more expensive than regional airports (in advance/on the day) on average, but Aberdeen has the most expensive on-day cost (£308.20) of all the airports analysed.

The research also highlights that paying on the day could cost you an average of £68.55 more than booking in advance. When it came to the price difference between the cheapest pre-booked car park and most expensive car park on the day, Aberdeen saw the highest price difference and percentage increase.

The research also analysed drop off charges, time limits, and fines. The standard time allowed for a drop off ranges from 5 to 15 minutes. Stansted has the highest minimum drop-off charge (£7) and Birmingham has the highest maximum drop off charge (£48).

Interestingly, at Luton and East Midlands, you get charged £1 for every extra minute over the minimum allowance. You’d only have to be waiting 35 minutes at Luton for a drop-off or pick-up to cost as much as the cheapest week’s parking – easily done if your flight is delayed or there’s a problem with luggage.

In total, six UK airports – Gatwick, Edinburgh, Stansted, Birmingham, Bristol, and Newcastle – charge fines of £100 or more for exceeding their maximum wait times or not paying the charge in the designated timeframe. In all cases, this is way above the cheapest pre-booked car park rate.

James Robinson, Head of Digital Marketing at Staysure Group, parent company of Avanti Travel Insurance, commented:

“Travel to and from the airport is one of those hidden extras that are easy to overlook. A lot of people like to drive and park their car at the airport while they are away – you’re not at the mercy of cancellations or other issues with public transport, it’s easier than carrying heavy bags on a bus or train, and it’s convenient to have your own car waiting for you when you get back, not having to wait for a taxi or a pick up.

“One thing our figures do show is that demand for airport car parking has risen sharply since the start of the pandemic. In 2018, Bristol was the only airport where 10% of passengers or more searched for car parking. This time around, seven airports beat that figure. We know far fewer people are using public transport because of social distancing concerns, and lot of those who would have taken a bus or train to the airport pre-pandemic now need another option.

“Driving and parking your own car before you fly is definitely the most convenient and COVID-safe way to travel to the airport, but what about cost? As we have seen, at some airports in particular, it can add a sizeable extra cost to your trip. The best way to save money on car parking at UK airports is undoubtedly to book online in advance, which can halve your costs. To be sure you’re getting the best deals, you should check prices and availability at individual airports to work out the cheapest way of doing things. An alternative is to get someone you know to give you a lift and drop you off, but it’s worth knowing most UK airports now charge to let vehicles near the terminal before you start trying to convince a friend or family member to do you this favour”.

For more information on the full research, visit:

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