Airport parking, one of those annoying essentials that, if you leave it to the last minute, can end up adding significant cost to your otherwise carefully budgeted getaway. Two bits of advice; firstly, don’t leave it to the last minute to book and secondly, do shop around online for the best deal. Prices (often for the same car park) can vary wildly and just googling ‘cheapest deal’ doesn’t necessarily get the best result. I book my car parking as soon as I’ve booked my flights – unless you can wangle a lift to the airport its something you are going to have to have and its better to get it booked, paid for and forgotten about as soon as. Drive up rates will always be significantly more than pre-booked.
Other considerations will be your flight timings and the proximity of the car park to the terminal. There’s nothing worse than arriving for a crack of dawn flight and discovering the so called ‘airport car park’ is a 10/15 minute shuttle bus ride away from the terminal and, you just missed the bus! Worse still if the shuttle serves multiple terminals and yours is the last drop off. You will pay more, but for early departures and late returns ‘Meet and Greet’ services can be worth their weight in gold. I recently put the aptly named I Love Meet & Greet to the test for a 6.30 am departure from Stansted. All you do is ring when you are 10 minutes from the terminal, follow directions to the drop off point right outside (hard to miss the man in the van) hand over your keys and job done.
Likewise on the return, you just ring the given number when you have your bags and they are there again with your car in the same spot. On this occasion we arrived at the airport as planned at 5am thinking, at that time of day, 90 minutes to check in would be a breeze. Wrong! Stansted, even at that ungodly hour, was rammed. Luggage drop off was speedy, but security took almost an hour and navigating the crowds to get to our distant gate was super stressful. We ended up literally running to the gate and were the very last to board. Had we gone for off site parking, we would certainly have missed the flight.
Similarly I’d strongly recommend Meet & Greet for families, groups or if you have lots of luggage as we always do when we are off on a shoot. If you have the luxury of more civilised flight times and can arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare, off site parking can save you money but again, it pays to shop around to find the best deal. Comparison sites boast the best deals but also check the airport’s own website.
Finally, when it comes to airport parking, loyalty can pay. If you are pleased with a particulate company’s service, always make them your first point of research. Its a very competitive market and repeat customers are often incentivised with future booking discounts.