Travelling to the airport is a major concern for travellers, not only the worry of how early you should arrive but what time you should leave. There’s nothing more annoying than leaving really early to allow for possible delays only to find yourself sailing through easily and having hours to kill at the airport, or worse still, leaving at a reasonable time and encountering road works and stressing whether you will make it to check-in in time.
While you will probably be faced with lots of options for travel: coach, train, taxi, driving, lift, a popular way to get to the airport is to drive.
Driving yourself gives you lots of control over when you leave plus you have the comfort of driving in your own car, however, it does present you with the problem of where are you going to park?
Airport Parking Options
Parking options will depend on your departure airport, however, generally, you will have the following options for airport parking:
On-airport parking is as its name suggests: on-airport. On-airport car parks are usually owned by the airport but operated by a parking contractor on the airport’s behalf.
Off-airport parking is operated by independent parking contractors whose car parks are situated a short bus ride away from the airport – usually no more than a ten-minute ride.
Passengers using the off-airport car parks are required to drive to the car park, park their car and then catch the company’s shuttle bus to the airport terminal.
Short-stay airport parking
Short-stay airport parking is as its name suggests: for short stays. Most short-stay car parks charge an hourly rate for parking on the first day and then daily thereafter. Parking in the short-stay car park offers the convenience of parking close to the airport terminal – usually a short walk away – however, this is the most expensive type of parking if you require a stay of more than one day.
Long-stay airport parking
Long-stay airport parking can be either on-airport – usually a very short bus ride away – or off-airport – about a ten-minute ride away.
It’s generally cheaper to use an off-airport parking company for longer stays than it is to park on-airport. However, do bear in mind that if you are carrying large sports equipment, this may not fit on the company’s shuttle bus – do check before booking.
Meet and greet valet parking
My favourite type of parking, meet and greet, offers the convenience of driving straight to the airport terminal without the hassle of parking your own car – your car is parked by a driver from your parking company at the company’s off-site car park.
On your return, your car is brought back to the airport terminal building ready for you to load up your luggage and drive home.
Meet and greet parking is particularly suited to passengers with mobility issues, those with large sports equipment or lots of luggage. Remember, if you use an off-site car park you will need to get on and off the bus with your luggage.
Park and stay packages
If you have a long drive to the airport or your flight is early in the morning, you may wish to take advantage of booking a room at an airport hotel the day before you fly. Park and stay packages offer the option of booking your airport parking and hotel room as a package – usually at a significant saving.
Airport hotels can either be on-airport or situated just off-airport. Many hotels offer the use of their car park while you are away or have contracts with parking providers, and most arrange shuttles to take you to the airport from the hotel.
As well as the traditional park and ride hotel parking, valet meet and greet parking is also offered as an option by many hotels.
Tips for cheaper airport parking:
If driving to the airport is going to be your chosen method of transport, make sure you book your airport parking early, don’t leave it until the last minute as parking spaces are in shorter supply nearer your departure date, particularly if you are flying at a busy time of the year. Also, by booking in advance you could save up to 60% on the ‘turn-up-on-the-day’, gate prices.