Cut the cost of airport parking
So you’ve booked your holiday in a flurry of excitement. Then comes the admin. What are we doing with the dog? Are the passports still in date? How are we getting to the airport? Ugh, airport parking!
The cost of leaving your car at the airport can be extortionate, particularly at Heathrow and Gatwick. I normally use Avios to pick up cheap British Airways flights, which means that Heathrow T5 is often my departure point from the UK. Depressingly, long stay parking would often double the cost of my ticket. So I declared war on airport parking. Here are my top tips to slashing the cost of airport parking, in order for potential cost saving:
Get a lift
It seems obvious, but many people simply don’t ask. If your flights are at a reasonable hour, consider asking around for a lift. Offering petrol money plus £10 on top might tempt your friends into making the trip, as could a promise to return the favour. It’s pretty easy to make it a win-win and Facebook was designed for such requests!
Your next stop should be JustPark. The website allows individuals and small businesses to offer their driveways and car parks for parking at a fraction of the price of official car parks. Parking spots offered are accompanied by reviews for added peace of mind. I’ve just booked last minute Friday to Monday parking a stone's throw from Heathrow T5 for £20. The driveway owner has a secure gated area accessible by pin code and full CCTV in operation. He’s giving me a lift to and from the terminal for an extra £15, so £35 all-in. The best that other parking comparison websites could offer me was £58. I’ve saved £23.
Use my personal invitation link justpark.com/invite/C0B791F4/ to get £5 off your first booking on JustPark. It’s not just for airport parking - you can find spaces almost anywhere.
NCP car parks
Going direct to the NCP car park website will often uncover much better deals than using a price comparison website, even if the comparison site claims to list NCP. The drawback with most NCP airport parking is that they are a little further out than the official airport parking, and so transfer times to the terminal can take a bit longer.
Parking comparison websites
Lastly, try airport parking comparison websites. They are not all created equally however, and often prioritise results on the basis of their own commission rather than the best price to the consumer. I’ve always found that Airport Parking Shop is the best site in terms of results and ease of use. Holiday Extras is another example, but doesn’t tend to find the best deals.
Let’s look at an example. Imagine we're going to South Africa for a week in late October - 24th to 31st - from Heathrow T5. Here are the best prices as of the date of publishing:
Get a lift: Potentially free
NCP: £45 (20 minute bus ride to terminal)
JustPark: £50 (£35 + 5 minute lift to/from the terminal at £15)
Airport Parking Shop comparison site: £50.50 via Park and Go (5 minute bus ride to terminal)
Holiday Extras comparison site: £80.55 via Good to Go (5 minute bus ride to terminal)
Heathrow Airport Parking: £82.20 official long-stay carpark (5 minute bus ride to terminal)
Getting a lift aside, the winner for me is JustPark. While it comes in at £5 more expensive than NCP, the 5 minute instant lift to the terminal gives it the edge. However, if you're uncomfortable using this kind of service, NCP wins the day. Park and Go (the best deal on Airport Parking Shop) is also a contender, but you do have to wait for a bus to pick you up from the car park.
There’s no such thing as a last minute airport parking deal. The earlier you book, the best chance you’ll have of saving money. And never turn up on the day without booked parking, you’ll pay handsomely for the privilege.
Aviod late charges
Be realistic when booking your parking slots and don’t guess when your flight departs and arrives. Don’t drop-off too early and try not to pick-up late. Always give yourself plenty of time to clear immigration and luggage claim. Check with the parking provider as to how much leeway you’ll have.