Airport car parking pick-up fees increased at over half UK major airports
Shock new research has found that over half of the UK’s biggest airports have increased the fees for drivers picking up friends or family members.
Analysis of parking prices by the RAC found that 13 airports had hiked up the pick-up parking prices this year.
The largest price rise came from London Luton.
It now costs a whopping initial £8 for a stay of up to 30 minutes at London Luton, which is £1 more than in 2017 when the minimum permitted stay was longer at 40 minutes.
Coming in as the second most expensive was London Stansted with motorists expected to pay £5.50 for a stay of up to half an hour, closely followed by Birmingham where it costs £5.10 for up to one hour – increases of 50p and 20p respectively.
Four airports, Edinburgh, Manchester, Heathrow, and Gatwick, share the fourth spot all costing £4 for pick-up charges.
Of the four, however, Edinburgh is the priciest in real terms, giving drivers just 15 minutes for their four quid as opposed to Heathrow and Gatwick which allows a 30 minute stop.
The airport that increased the price of their parking by the biggest percentage was Southampton doubling the initial fee from £1 to £2, however, it increased the amount of time the driver can stay for from 10 minutes to 15 minutes.
Glasgow also increased their prices by 50 per cent from £2 to £3 but doubled the amount of time the driver can stay for 20 minutes.
Motorists heading for Belfast, Liverpool John Lennon, and Leeds Bradford airports will find these are the only three major airports in the UK that still permit free short-stay pick-ups – although in Northern Ireland drivers will need to be very quick at picking up as the free period only lasts 10 minutes.
Prices at drop-off didn’t increase at as many airports as pick-up points but it is still extortionate.
London Stansted has the most expensive initial charge for stopping off at £3.50 for a stay of up to 10 minutes.
The most expensive place to park on an equivalent ‘per minute’ basis goes to Manchester which introduced charges for the first time in 2018, having previously operated a free drop-off zone outside the airport.
A five-minute stay costs £3, the equivalent of 60p per minute.
These airports are followed by London Luton (£3 for 10 minutes), Liverpool John Lennon (£3 for 20 minutes) and Leeds Bradford (£3 for 30 minutes) when ranked by price.
Southampton is the only airport to increase its standard fees, doing so by £1 but giving drivers an extra five minutes parking from the previous 10 minutes.
Four of the UK’s biggest airports meanwhile still allow drivers to drop off passengers free-of-charge outside their terminals – they are London Heathrow, Gatwick, City, and Cardiff.
Drivers need to be wary of the extortionate charges of overstaying in a drop-off one.
Leeds Bradford charges £9 for stops of between 30 and 60 minutes, while those overstaying at London Luton, London Stansted and East Midlands are effectively put on a meter after the maximum stay is exceeded – each charge a whopping £1 for every additional minute.
RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “As we enter the summer holiday season, the UK’s airports are about to see some of their busiest weeks of the year.
“With thousands of motorists driving to airports to pick up and drop off friends and family members many will, unfortunately, find themselves shocked by some of the extortionate parking tariffs operated by some airports.
“Our advice is to check parking fees and time limits well before setting out for an airport this summer so as to avoid a nasty shock.
“Drivers should also be aware of just how high some charges can be if they inadvertently stay longer picking up or dropping off than they originally meant to.
“We advise doing some research before heading to the airport and seeing if there are any cheaper parking options available; some airports offer more affordable spaces further from the terminal building, and some better rates for reserving a space online.
“If picking up, it is wise to make sure you know when a friend or a family member is landing and leave additional time for them to pick up their luggage.
“We also strongly urge drivers who are researching longer stay airport parking to only book through reliable parking providers – such as through an official airport website or a parking provider that is a member of the Independent Airport Parking Association (IAPA).”
RAC top five tips to avoid stress and high airport parking charges
1. Do your research: Check out the parking pages on the airport’s website to understand fees, payment options and stay times. Some airports may even offer lower online rates.
2. Have your payment ready: Once you have found out how to pay, ensure you have payment ready to hand whether that is adequate change, a debit or credit card or pre-programme the phone payment number into your mobile.
3. Identify a nearby ‘holding location’: It is worth checking out nearby free parking places in case your friends or relatives’ flight is delayed so you can wait for the plane to land before proceeding to the terminal. If picking up, make sure you keep abreast of the flight’s landing time.
4. Keep in touch: Ask your friends or relatives to call you once they have collected their luggage and cleared passport control so you can park at the optimum moment. But remember if you are driving – it must be hands-free.
5. Say your goodbyes before travel: Say your farewells with your passengers before you get to the airport to keep goodbyes to a minimum, otherwise they may prove expensive.