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*Please note: this article is sponsored by our partner Holiday Extras.
December 6, 2017
By Joey Tyson
Unattended vehicles dumped in muddy fields, luxury cars taken out for a spin while the owners are away… some recent stories in the press surrounding airport parking are enough to make anyone think twice about leaving their car alone during a holiday.
But, while these appalling incidents do occasionally happen, there are many more examples of good, reputable companies who look after the vehicles the way they say they will – these just don’t make it into the news.
Holiday Extras expert, James Lewis, says that it’s important to not to be discouraged from booking Meet and Greet parking because of the “handful of rogue operators who sometimes hit the headlines”.
To help you find the right airport parking company for you, we chat to James for more of his expert advice and tips on scoring the best deal.
The best way to avoid cowboy operations is to plan ahead and book your parking with a trusted supplier. To make sure a company is trustworthy, there are a number of things you can check.
James advises: “To ensure peace of mind before booking, always check the company’s credentials, including its length of trading, quality and quantity of customer reviews, plus its broader reputation for customer service.”
If you’re still unsure, go for a belt-and-braces approach and book through a trusted provider such as Holiday Extras on TravelSupermarket as all of the car parking services on its site are vetted before they are made available to book.
Airport parking is not a one-size-fits-all service, there are many different options available, each with its own function and specific benefits. The type of parking you choose can also affect the price, but the main thing to bear in mind is picking the option that suits your situation.
The four options can be roughly grouped into the following sections:
Park and ride: This is often the cheapest service and involves parking in a secured site outside of the airport’s grounds. It can be some distance from the airport, but regular shuttles take you to the terminal (these are generally between 10-30 minutes and are generally included in the price you pay). This may be the best option for you if price is your priority – but remember to allow for that bit of extra time to get to the terminal before your flight.
On-airport: This is effectively parking at the airport itself, which means shorter journey times to the terminal. Sometimes there are shuttles to the terminal, but these are usually pretty quick. This is a mid-range option and strikes a compromise between the price and the distance.
Meet and Greet: With this option, you simply drop your car off at a car park close to the terminal, leave it with a driver who will take it to a secured car park nearby - while you head straight into the terminal. This is the quickest and easiest option and can be particularly popular with families who have lots to carry.
“Meet and greet has become more popular over the last few years as people prefer to pay a little extra to save time and effort at the airport,” says James.
Hotel and parking: Increasingly popular, this option involves staying overnight in a hotel close to the airport and either leaving your car at the hotel for the duration of your trip, or parking it in a secured car park on the day of departure. Transfers to and from the airport are normally available, but may incur a small additional charge.
James says: “The package price for hotel and parking is cheaper than parking alone on a surprisingly frequent basis so this option is well worth investigating, especially if you fancy starting your holiday a day earlier.”
Within the types of parking you’ll also find short-stay and long-stay options. Short stay tends to be closer to the terminal but can be considerably more expensive. Generally if you’re leaving your car for at least a week while you’re away, long-stay will be the most cost-effective option.
Now you’ve decided on the type of parking, it’s time to find the best price. Booking in advance is key as, according to Holiday Extras, this can shave up to 60% off the price you’d pay if you were to just turn up. However, it’s not just a case of booking early. How early you book can also affect the price you pay.
“Around 87% of bookings are booked within nine weeks of departure date. However, it is those who booked earlier than nine weeks that actually get the better deal (by better deal, I mean cheaper price per night),” says James.
“Price and availability go hand in hand – if availability is low, suppliers will increase their prices in order to slow demand. So booking earlier, perhaps at the point of booking the holiday, will guarantee availability and the lowest prices.”
Shopping around is also important. Search tools, such as TravelSupermarket, allow you to compare a number of different options side-by-side so that you can pick the best deal for you.
When you compare deals, always scrutinise the terms and conditions. This way, you know exactly what you’re getting for your money and what your cancellation rights are.
It’s also worth thinking about the time of your flight and how you’ll get to the terminal. If you’ve got an early flight already, do you want to make it earlier by getting a shuttle bus, for example?