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A guide to airport parking

Updated on July 7, 2011

Choosing airport parking

Airport parking is often the last thing anyone thinks about when booking a holiday. After all, it’s not something that you gain satisfaction from; you can’t get excited about it; it’s just a necessary added expense, right? Well yes, and no.

Booking the right sort of airport parking is important, you don’t want to pay high fees to leave your car somewhere for the entire length of your holiday, but at the same time you need to make sure you choose the right type of parking and the right company. Get it right and you won’t think anything of it, get it wrong and it can tarnish a wonderful holiday experience.

There are many airport parking options to choose from: on-airport, off-airport, short-stay, long-stay, meet and greet, and park and stay packages where you book a hotel room and the parking is included or added for a fee – often less than normal parking rates.

When deciding on what type of parking you should book, consider your needs. Do you have heavy luggage, large sports equipment, are you travelling with young children or elderly relatives, or is shortage of time a factor?

Types of airport parking

Detailed below are the various types of airport parking available:

On-airport parking

On-airport parking offers the convenience of being close to the airport terminal- often just a short walk away. However, sometimes, on-airport parking can require a short shuttle bus journey between the park and the terminal – always check prior to booking.

Off-airport parking

Off-airport parking is generally the cheapest option available and requires customers to drive to the off-site car park and travel to the airport on a shuttle bus.

Off-airport parking is suitable for customers who don’t mind the transfer times between airport and car park – don’t forget you’ll be waiting around for a shuttle to take you back to the car park when you return from your holiday.

If you are travelling with sports equipment, such as skis, snowboards, golf clubs, bikes etc. do make sure the company can accommodate these items on the bus – not all companies do, so check first.

Short-stay parking

Short-stay car parks are situated on-airport and are usually the most expensive type of parking available. Prices are structured for short-stays – usually for passenger pick-up or drop-off – rates are usually charged by the hour for the first 24 hours and daily thereafter.

Long-stay parking

If you are parking for more than a few hours or a couple of days, it is advisable to park in a long-stay car park. Often there is a long-stay car park on-airport, however, most of the long-stay parking options are available off-airport in car parks operated by independent parking companies. Off-site, long-stay parking is generally the cheapest parking option available.

Meet and greet parking

Meet and greet parking is sometimes referred to as valet parking and is possibly the most convenient type of parking available.

Customers drive straight up to the airport terminal on the day of departure and are met by an awaiting driver who then parks the customer’s car for them. On their return, a driver brings the car back to the terminal building when the customer is ready.

Meet and greet offers all the benefits of on-airport parking but without the need for the customer to park their own car.

This type of parking is suitable for customers travelling with young children, elderly relatives, disabled drivers, business travellers short on time and those travelling with large sports equipment.

Hotel and parking packages

Hotel and parking packages, or park and stay packages, are suitable for travellers who live a significant distance from the airport or those with an early departure.

Booking a hotel room the night before flying can effectively add another day to the holiday and means that travellers can start the day refreshed. Often, hotels offer parking and a room as a package – either parking in the grounds of the hotel or as part of an arrangement with a local airport parking company. Booking a hotel and parking package can save a significant amount of money when compared to booking a room and parking separately.

The stay option can be used before the outbound flight or at the end of the holiday.

Booking airport parking

When you have decided what is the best parking option for you, it is best to book your parking as soon as possible after booking your flights. By booking online, in advance, customers can save up to 60% when compared to gate prices.


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      Geoffro "Stansted" Millar 6 years ago

      Very useful advice! I also found some helpful info for Stansted airport over here:

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      the gatwick parking user 6 years ago

      I am always using valet parking at Gatwick and your info seems very well balanced. Nice to see