Watch out for pricier pick-up parking fees at UK airports

7 July 2018

Thirteen of the UK’s biggest airports have raised their fees for drivers picking up friends or family members this summer, according to analysis of airport parking prices.

Motoring group the RAC reports that it now costs an initial £8 outlay for a stay of up to 30 minutes at London Luton, which is £1 more than in 2017 when the minimum permitted stay was 40 minutes.

London Stansted is the second most expensive, with drivers paying an initial charge of £5.50 for a stay of up to 30 minutes, followed by Birmingham where the fee is £5.10 for a one-hour stay – with the airports raising their prices by 50p and 20p respectively in 2018. 

Four airports share fourth spot with initial pick-up charges of £4, but Edinburgh is the most expensive as its fee only gives drivers a measly 15 minutes compared with London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester, which give motorists 30 minutes’ parking.

Southampton posted the largest price increase, doubling its initial fee from £1 to £2, although drivers can now stay for up to 15 minutes rather than the previous 10. Glasgow has raised its minimum charge by 50% from £2 to £3, with drivers now being permitted to park for 20 minutes – twice as long as before.

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.

When it comes to dropping off passengers rather than parking, London Stansted is the most expensive airport at £3.50 for a stay of up to 10 minutes. But on a ‘per minute’ basis, Manchester is the priciest, having ditched its free drop-off zone outside the airport this year, with a five-minute stay costing £3.

Also among the five airports for pricey drop-offs are London Luton (£3 for 10 minutes), Liverpool John Lennon (£3 for 20 minutes), and Leeds Bradford (£3 for 30 minutes).

Motorists can still drop off passengers for free outside terminals at London Heathrow, Gatwick, and City, and at Cardiff.

But drivers who overstay their time in a drop-off zone can see fees rocket. For example, Leeds Bradford charges £9 for stops of between 30 and 60 minutes, while drivers at London Luton, London Stansted and East Midlands will all be charged £1 for every extra minute - although after the first 15-minutes, London Stansted charges a fee of £25.

‘Check parking fees and time limits’

Rod Dennis, RAC spokesperson, says: “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.”

Mr Dennis adds: “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).”

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