Airport parking is one of those things everyone hates paying for but it makes your trip so much easier. Roll up to the airport, leave your car and drive away with ease when you return after a long flight.
We’ve put together the ultimate guide to find cheap airport parking, including the differences between parking options, the best websites to use and how to get the best prices.
1. What website should I use to get the best deal? Compare prices
Airport parking is a competitive market and there are numerous websites to choose from. Your best option is to use a comparison website such as airport-parking-shop.co.uk or Holiday Extras. These sites compare multiple car parks at all UK airports to find the best prices, a bit like Trivago (hotels) or Skyscanner (flights).
Simply visit a comparison site, enter your airport, dates and times and hit ‘search’.
Once you find a car park you like the look off (take price, reviews and location into consideration as explained below), visit their official website and do the same search to see if you can find a better price direct. Simply Google the car park name.
Other reputable sites for comparing options to find cheap airport parking:
2. Use a discount code or cashback scheme
Airport parking websites are almost always running a discount code or cashback promotion. Google the airport parking website you’re looking to use and ‘promo code’ or ‘cashback’ to see what’s available.
An example of some current promotions:
15% cashback at Holiday Extras when paying with Amex
10% off all airport parking at Purple Parking
Up to 50% cashback on Quidco with Airparks
3. An important note on how airport car parks are priced per day
Almost all airport car parks have ‘per day’ prices, meaning you always pay for the full day if you return to your car at a later time than your entry time. For example, if I book parking from 11:00am on Saturday and pick it up on 12:00pm on Sunday, I’ll be charged for a full extra day even though I only parked for an extra hour.
Try and time your exit time to be the same or earlier than your entry time to save a little bit extra.
4. What’s the difference between airport car parks?
Short Stay – A car park designed for shorter 1 – 5 day stays. It’s usually closer to the terminal but on the higher end of the price scale
Long Stay – A car park designed for longer holiday stays. It’s usually further away from the terminal, may require a short bus transfer and is one of the cheaper options.
Official / On-airport – These car parks are the official car parks, owned by the airport itself. They’re often the closest but not as cheap as off-airport brands
Off-airport – These are independently owned car parks located very near the airport but not on the airport land. They’re almost always the cheapest parking option but a bus transfer to the terminal is needed (complimentary).
Meet and Greet / Valet parking – The quickest and easiest way of getting from your car to the terminal. Drop your car off in a car park nearest the terminal building and a valet will park it for you.
Always check to see how far away a car park is to the terminal using. This can vary from a 2 minute walk to a 10 minute transfer bus ride. The information will be listed on your booking website or your can search yourself using Google Maps.
5. Flexible and non-flexible options
There are two types of bookings – flexible and not flexible, and they mean exactly that. You can amend flexible bookings if you have a change of flight or want to cancel, however non-flexible bookings can’t be changed once booked.
If you can’t see your trip dates/times changing, book a non-flexible product to save a few extra pounds.
6. A note on Meet and Greet
Meet and Greet, also known as Valet parking or Drop and Go, is the quickest way of getting from your car to the terminal. You drop your car off with the car park staff in a car park which is usually the closest to the terminal building, within a couple of minutes walking distance. They then park it for you and are waiting when you return.
As speedy as this service is, it’s one of the more expensive parking options available. As with regular airport parking, take advantage of the discount and savings advice listed here to find the cheapest Meet and Greet airport parking.
7. Airport parking prices at different UK airports
Due to demand, competition and the amount of spaces available, prices can vary substantially between different UK airports but also vary based on seasonality. Heathrow Airport is widely known to be the most expensive market for airport parking due to high demand, whilst Stansted and Luton offer cheaper parking in the London area.
Airports with a particularly cheap airport parking market include Edinburgh, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford and Liverpool.
8. Best time to book – supply versus demand
Unlike flight and holiday bookings where you can find last minute deals, it’s almost always cheaper to book your airport parking at least 6 months in advance or as early as you can if you’re flying during peak times. Once you’ve decided on your flights, book your parking at the same time for the best prices.
Similar to flights, car parks have a limited amount of spaces and operators charge a premium if they’re forecast to fill or there aren’t many spaces left for your dates. It’s particularly important to book early if you’re travelling on peak dates such as Easter, Bank Holiday, Christmas and summer when the car parks will be very busy.
9. Take advantage of loyalty schemes and hidden discounts
Comparison websites are great for finding the best prices but you may be able to save even more by using a comparison site with a loyalty scheme or booking direct with the official car parking provider. Due to price parity in the market, suppliers generally charge the same wherever you book.
However, if you sign up to loyalty schemes, membership rewards programs and newsletters, you can claim exclusive or hidden prices not available to the main marketplace.
Here are some examples of popular rewards programs:
- Holiday Extras Avios rewards – 5 Avios points for every £1 spent on HolidayExtras.co.uk
- NCP Membership – 10% off selected airport parking when you sign up to free membership
- Purple Parking – exclusive newsletter membership discounts
10. Cheapest times of the year for airport parking
The most expensive months for airport parking are UK holidays such as Easter, bank holidays, kid’s half term holidays, Christmas/New Year and the peak summer months of July and August.
You’ll find the months of November, December, January, February and March are the cheapest months to park as they’re out of the peak season and flights aren’t scheduled as often.
11. Remember to check car park reviews before you book
You may have heard about cowboy companies offering cheap airport parking, collecting your car and then parking it in a random, non-secured field whilst your away.
To ensure that your car is safe when you’re on holiday, always check the reviews on comparison sites or Google Maps. A few minutes of research before you book can give you that extra peace of mind. Always book with a reputable brand which uses CCTV in their car parks.