We explain how you can find the cheapest or most convenient airport parking and save money by pre-booking.
Airport parking is one of those essential parts of a holiday or business trip that's often overlooked until the very last minute, but by pre-booking your parking as you would a hotel or flight, you can find the best airport car park for your needs - and save money, too.
There are three different types of airport parking, and your choice of car park will largely depend on your budget and whether you want the cheapest, closest or most convenient option.
On-airport car parks are located next to, or near to, the airport terminals and as such they offer excellent convenience.
The key to saving money is to plan ahead and pre-book
Each airport will offer a choice of short-stay and long-stay car parks, with the short-stay car parks typically located within a short walk of the terminal itself.
Long-stay car parks, if not within walking distance, will be a short, complimentary bus ride away.
Short-term car parks are generally geared towards business travellers who want a quick getaway and pick up. They are the most expensive parking option on a cost-per-day basis, but there may be special offers on at weekends when business travel quietens down.
Most on-airport car parks are run by the airport authorities or contracted out to companies such as BCP or NCP, who run the car parks on the airport's behalf.
Parking is gate controlled with entry and exit barriers and ticket machines. If you haven't pre-booked then you'll usually collect a ticket on entry to the car park and make your payment at a pay point when you return to your vehicle.
Off-airport car parks typically offer the best opportunity to save money. Normally, they are located a short bus ride away from the airport terminals, so you'll need to factor the duration of the bus transfer into your drop-off and pick-up times.
You'll usually be required to leave your car keys with the car park reception. Although security at off-airport car parks is generally very good with regular security patrols and CCTV monitoring, for peace of mind check the security measures in place at any car park you are interested in before booking. This information should be available online.
Also known as valet parking, you drive to a designated drop-off point at the airport terminal, where you'll be met by a representative of the parking company.
You simply unload your luggage and your vehicle will be driven away to be parked on your behalf. On return it will be delivered back to the pick-up point ready for you to drive away.
This is one of the more expensive airport parking options, but it does offer maximum convenience with no fuss and no hassle.
The key to saving money is to plan ahead and pre-book. Most car park companies offer discounts against the gate price - that is, the price you'd pay if you didn't pre-book and simply drove up and paid. Discounts can be very significant.
By pre-booking your airport parking you'll have peace of mind knowing you've secured your parking space. The number of spaces at airport car parks are limited, so during peak periods there's no guarantee that a space will be available unless you have booked in advance.
Pre-booking also allows you to find the right car park, depending on your budget and your needs. Perhaps you want to find the cheapest deal, the car park closest to the terminal, or a car park company that's won awards for it's security measures.
Whatever your choice, you can avoid the stress and worry of parking in an unsuitable location by booking early. By pre-booking you can also save time - there'll be no driving around searching for a free space or queuing to pay.
You'll need your flight itinerary to hand when making your booking. Allow enough time to arrive, park and make your way to the terminal to check-in.
If you are parking away from the terminal you'll need to factor in bus transfer times and frequency – this information will usually be available online from the parking company.
When you return, allow time to collect your luggage and again factor in bus transfer times and frequencies if necessary.
Once you've made your booking you should receive an email detailing your parking arrangements and providing instructions for what to do and where to go
The parking company will require a number of details when you make your booking:
Once you've made your booking you should receive an email detailing your parking arrangements and providing instructions for what to do and where to go.
This email may act as your ticket for the car park, so keep it safe and, above all, don't forget to take it with you when you travel!
Alternatively, you may be required to insert the credit card used for the booking into the car park entry or exit machine as a means of validating your parking - if so, ensure you have this with you.