How to avoid high airport parking fees

Published by Esther Armstrong on 18 May 2010.
Last updated on 24 August 2011

airport parking
Car parking charges at some of the UK’s airports are “ridiculously high”, with Heathrow proving the most expensive of all.
According to a Which? Car survey, there is a strong discrepancy between how much different airports charge people to park their cars, with many airports in the South being much more expensive compared with their Northern counterparts.

The survey looked at the price of seven days’ parking in 15 of the UK’s busiest airports and found business parking at Heathrow to be the costliest option, costing up to £88.70. Meanwhile, at Manchester Airport you would only have to fork out £19.84.

But how can you beat extortionate airport parking costs?

Book ahead
Not only will pre-booking a parking space save you money, it will also ensure you are guaranteed a parking space. The sooner you can book, the better, as parking tends to get more expensive as spaces run out. The easiest way to do this is to book your parking when you book your flights. Policies at different airport’s vary but some will let you book up to two years in advance.

Find a local car park
Spend some time researching other parking facilities in the area of your airport, bearing in mind how regular airport transfers are especially if you have a very late or early inbound or outbound flight.
Off-airport parking tends to work out cheaper, although transfer times will probably take longer. To find alternative car parks, try

Consider other alternatives
Another alternative is to pay to park in a driveway near the airport, visit to search for options. Be careful though, keeping your car anywhere other than where you have declared you will on your policy could have implications should you need to claim, check with your insurance provider to make sure.

Hire a car
Car hire could work out cheaper for travellers heading off on longer trips. The benefit is that you can pick up a car at a local depot, drop it off at the airport and then vice versa on your way home.
Or, get some quotes from local taxi firms and see if letting someone else drive you might work out cheaper.

Public transport
Unreliable, dirty and expensive as it’s often considered to be, public transport can often be the easiest way to catch your flight.
Work out exactly how much return tickets will cost you (and your family) door-to-door and compare this with the cost of parking your car, plus petrol. You can work out how much it will cost you to drive your car to the airport by going to

Booking a reliable taxi company to take you to the airport takes a lot of the stress out of the journey, but whether this is cost efficient will depend on the distance. Phone a few local firms to see how much it would cost, and again compare this to the price of parking and petrol.

If you have an early flight, don’t want the hassle of travelling to the airport on the day of your flight, or are worried public transport might let you down, then consider booking a local hotel room and heading up the night before.
This might not be the cheapest option, but at least it will give you the chance to rest before your flight and potentially save you the stress of transport delays.
And, if you are determined to drive, some hotels may offer a parking package meaning you can leave your car parked for the duration of your trip.

Fly from a different airport
Alternatively, flying from regional airports will really cut down on parking charges, with Belfast International, Liverpool and Bristol among the cheapest for on-site seven-day parking, charging £23, £27.99 and £29 respectively.



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