Essential tips for booking airport parking

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Bird's eye view of a car park

There can be huge variations in the price of different car parking at airports – and some options are safer or more convenient than others. We cover everything you need to consider before booking airport parking ahead of your next trip. 

Types of airport parking

You can choose from a few different types of parking, each with benefits and disadvantages. 

Official long-stay car parks

These areas are within the airport perimeter. Regular shuttle buses service them so you can easily get to the terminal. 

These sites are usually further away from the airport. On-call shuttles normally service them. 

Meet and greet

Also known as concierge parking, this is where you’re met at the airport by a parking company representative who will take your car to a secure place.

They’ll then return with your car when you return at the end of your trip.

What to consider before booking airport parking

Meet and greet services will generally be the most expensive option, followed by official long-stay airport parking and independent operators.

It’s important to remember that just because an option is cheap doesn’t mean it’s right for you. 

You should always consider other things like the proximity to the airport and car park security.

If you’re booking an off-site company, you should check:

  • customer reviews on travel review sites
  • where they keep the cars
  • if shuttle buses run 24 hours and their frequency 

With all options, it’s best to choose one that’s flexible (including the ability to change dates or car registrations) and has a free cancellation policy up to 24 hours before departure.

You should only choose an operator that displays the blue Park Mark logo. This means the parking facility has been police-assessed and is properly managed and maintained. 

It’s good practice to make sure the operator you go for is also a member of the Independent Airport Parking Association (IAPA).

How to book airport parking

There are a few ways you can book airport parking:

  • through the airport website 
  • directly through an independent operator’s website
  • through a price comparison website

When is the best time to book airport parking?

You’ll pay the highest prices if you turn up on the day without a booking.

There's also the chance that certain car parks might become fully booked if you leave it to the last minute, especially if you’re travelling during peak holiday times.

Booking even just 24 hours ahead can make a huge difference – although booking further in advance is preferable.

How to save money and time on airport parking

You should shop around for the best airport parking deals, like on price comparison websites.

It’s also a good idea to search for discount vouchers. Airports often have social media accounts where they may share discount codes or other deals on parking.

Some airlines and parking companies have Frequent Flyer discounts if you fly regularly. Essentially, these are loyalty schemes where airlines reward you for booking frequently.  

Another way to get cheap airport parking is to travel outside peak times. 

Safety in car parks

You should: 

  • make a note of the row and bay number where you’re parked
  • take a picture of your car, the mileage and surroundings
  • take a photograph of the ticket issued at the barrier 

If anything happens to your car, you’ll have evidence of how you left it.  

Read our guide on how to prevent car theft.

What to do if your car is stolen from an airport car park

Unfortunately, it’s not unheard of to have your car stolen from airport parking.

If you return home from your holiday to find out your car has been stolen, you should contact:

  1. the car park operator to notify them your car has been stolen
  2. the police to report the stolen vehicle
  3. your car insurer to register a claim

Read our guide on what to do if your car is stolen.

Is my car insured while in airport parking?

If you choose self-serve parking, either an on-site car park or an independent provider, any damages would need to be claimed against your car insurance.

With meet and greet services, you should choose an operator that has the right insurance to drive your car.  

This information should be available on their website in the terms and conditions section. If you’re unsure, give them a call. 

In general, they’ll have assurances in place if your car is damaged while in their care.

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