Flights are all booked and your trip planning is in full swing. You’ve decided that you are going to drive to the airport. (In case you missed it, here’s our guide on different options for getting to the airport with kids) However, there is the small detail of arranging affordable and safe parking for your car, while you are away.
The trick to finding good, affordable airport parking is booking early and doing a little research. It’s important to consider other factors, besides price. We have some great tips to help you find cheap and safe parking, so you can enjoy a worry-free holiday.
Pre-book your parking
Don’t leave the airport parking as an afterthought! Research by IAPA (Independent Airport Parking Association) shows that 40% of airport parking booking is made within four weeks of travel, lots leaving it last minute, missing out on some serious savings and, possibly, jeopardising the security of their vehicle.
It’s also true that about 10% of airport parking is only available, when booked online. This means that if you decide to just turn up on the day at the airport, without having pre-booked, your choice will be much more limited.
1. Book airport parking early
Parking prices, like flights, usually increase as spaces fill up closer to your holiday. Even if it seems so remote, book as soon as you’ve booked flights to get the best deals.
Some companies will offer a full refund if you need to cancel for any reason (and this may be because you found a better offer.)
2. Compare prices
Assess prices using an airport parking comparison site, such as airparks.co.uk or aph.com , as they’ll show you the costs of onsite airport parking, park & ride and meet & greet from lots of different operators in one place.
3. Consider parking at hotels
Some airports offer inclusive parking and transfer packages for guests who stay with them. This can work out quite well, especially if you have an early morning flight. Leaving home the evening before and staying the night at an airport hotel can take some serious stress out of your journey… And your holiday starts early too.
4. Look out for hidden costs
Don’t be surprised by hidden costs: These may include things like transfers, airport access fees and booking fees. When booking parking, always check for hidden costs in the small print and take these into consideration, when doing a price comparison.
5. Check quality assurance
Did you know that, in the UK, car parks with the Park Mark Award have been police assessed and graded secure and fit for purpose?
Don’t just book the cheapest price with a company you don’t know, look out for the quality assurance. Rogue parking companies may be cheaper, but may not have the proper parking facilities, teams and procedures in place to care for your car properly, so take a few minutes to check them out before you book.
You can check out which are Park Mark safety assured carparks [opens Park Mark search] in the UK.
6. Review sites are your friend
Don’t rush your research- If you don’t already have a favourite, finding the best prices with the best operators will take a little bit of work. So grab a cuppa, open your browser and do it properly.
Read independent reviews (like Google– access these via the maps view by searching car parking + airport- and Trustpilot in some countries) before you book, as they provide a comprehensive guide to previous, recent customer experiences.
7. Don’t assume onsite airport parking is always most convenient
Surprisingly, transport times from many park & ride facilities are similar to the airports’ own services. This is because you can cut down on a longer walk that may be required from your parking to the terminal. The quickest service is often a meet and greet service, where staff meet you at a pre-agreed drop off point by the terminal and then take your car to be parked at a secure location off-site.
8. Avoid costly drop-off fees at the airport
If you grab a lift from friends or relatives, don’t hang around at the airport drop-off point as charges at most airports rise steeply for every few minutes of your stay. They can be eye-watering.
Some airports, like London Luton, actually charge you for drop off too …and it’s not cheap: £4!
Leaving your car safely at the airport carpark
The long-awaited trip is here! Once you have arrived at your airport parking, there are some things you can also do to help ensure that your car is safer.
Don’t leave any valuable your car
… and that means seeming valuable items too. You’d be surprised for how many low-value items are left in cars and tempting thieves daily.
Don’t forget to lock the car
… it’s all too easy to get caught up in the rush, especially when you have your hands full with luggage, kids and all.
Prepare for expected weather-sweltering heat or freezing cold
…it’s always a good idea to consider the weather your car will be exposed to. If it’s going to be very hot, consider putting heat reflectors in your windows.
If it’s going to be very cold, pull up your windscreen wipers off your windows.
Inflate the tyre
…if your car is anything like ours, give it a week or more and the tyres begin to lose pressure. Make sure you leave your car with adequately inflated tyres.
Check the cameras
…as you are about to leave your car, have a quick scan around to know where security cameras are. I have been known to purposefully park in full sight of these.
Bonus tip: make it easy to find your car after the holiday
We’ve all been there: we return home after a lovely, relaxing break, maybe a long flight, our brain is still in holiday mode. We had no doubts about being able to find our car back when we left it. Now, it’s a totally different thing! We have no clue and spend half an hour roaming the car park looking for the car.
Don’t let this happen to you! Make a note of the row you are parked in and store with your important paperwork, mark it on google maps and save the location, or even better… use the What3Words App (which you should have on your phone anyway, as more and more emergency services are using it.)
These are our top tips! Have fun booking your parking and leaving your car in safety.