Once you have booked your flights you can congratulate yourself and relax for a while, but eventually you have to face the next logistical issue. Getting to the airport and once there the knotty issue of airport parking (if you have driven, obviously). This can often be very expensive and add considerably to the price of a trip, especially if you are away for a long time, so here are our top tips to save you money and hassle.
Top 5 Tips for Airport Parking
– Book parking online before you travel, it is always cheaper.
– Check how far the car park is from the terminal and what the transfer arrangements are. You may find you have a choice between near and convenient and cheap and miles away.
– If you have an early morning flight, check out hotel / parking combos. These can be cost effective and cut a lot of the stress out of getting to the airport.
– If you want to stay in an airport hotel before you travel, check the transfer arrangements to the terminal before you book. Sometimes these are infrequent and expensive.
– If you are travelling with a lot of luggage and / or small children, look at meet and greet or valet services. This is often not much more expensive than bus transfer options and can save a lot of time and hassle.
Airport Parking Only
If you are looking at parking only you will have 3 main options; on airport parking, meet and greet (valet) service and off airport parking.
On airport parking tends to be the most expensive as it allows you to park adjacent to, or at least near the terminal building and walk straight in and out.
Meet and greet services vary in price, but can be cheaper than on-airport parking and are very convenient. The proposition here is that you get out of your car at the terminal building at a pre-arranged time / location and an employee of the parking company comes and collects your car. You go off and have a great time. On your return you call the company to confirm you have landed and they should have your car ready and waiting for you outside the terminal. It will have been kept at an offsite parking location in the meantime. If you have a lot of luggage or are travelling with small children this can be particularly convenient as it minimises the distance you will have to move luggage / children and therefore the chances of losing something /someone.
The cheapest way to park at the airport is off-airport car parks. These vary in terms of distance from the airport and transfer arrangements so check carefully before you enter your credit card details. As a general rule, the further from the airport, the cheaper the parking. We shop for off-airport parking very carefully as we have ended up waiting for eternity for transfer buses before, often for the sake of a relatively small saving.
In terms of good places to go hunting for well priced parking, we particularly like Woosh Airport Extras for good prices and clear products as well as a very handy Airport Guide that gives you information about the proximity of the car parks to the terminal. Another favourite of ours is Essential Travel Airport Parking which has a great range of options and allows for reviews on their site which can be helpful. Finally, APH has keen prices for all of their parking options and gives a discount for bookings on a non-flexible basis. This can be handy if you know you will not want to change your dates.
Airport Parking with Hotel
If you are catching a very early flight, staying over the night before at an airport hotel can reduce stress levels considerably. If you shop far enough in advance a parking and hotel package is often not much more expensive than the parking alone, especially if you only need one room. As with everything however, there are a few things to be wary of before you just go with the cheapest….
Look at how far away the hotel is from your terminal building. That hotel that looks super cheap may be 20 miles away.
Look at what the arrangements are for transfer. Some hotels run buses. Check out
- how much are the charges
- what is the journey time
You can sometimes find that the charges add up to a large amount, especially if you are travelling with a family, or that the bus runs so infrequently you will end up having to factor in so much extra travel time that you may as well have spent the night in your own bed.
2 Other Top Airport Logistics Tips
Finally, we have two further pieces of advice to help take the pain out of long haul travel.
Firstly, consider booking access to an airport lounge. This gets you into a haven of peace and quiet which is especially nice if you know you will have left yourself plenty of time before your flight and may have a long wait at the airport.
Secondly, if you face a long drive on your return from a long haul flight it can be worth booking a day room at an airport hotel. We have often done this to avoid attempting to drive when tired and jet lagged. These can be tricky to book online as the booking engines are based around ‘night’ occupancy. Even if you write in the comments / requests section there is no guarantee that you will get immediate access to your room when you turn up at 7.30 in the morning.
We have found the best way to ensure you have booked a day room is to call the hotel and book over the phone. Quaintly old fashioned but very effective. Not all hotels do day rooms. Most reliable in our experience is the Holiday Inn Hotels chain.