Isn’t planning your holiday the most fun thing to do? I certainly think so. I love browsing through hotel choices, searching for the best experiences, searching locations on instagram, and getting inspired for what I’ll get up to when I’m away. I’ve always said I’d rather pay more for convenience when it comes to travel, especially for better flight times, an airport close to home, and door to door service. When Staysure contacted me to share their findings from a recent investigation they carried out into airport parking, and after one too many late nights stood in the freezing cold waiting for taxi’s to show up, I took note.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Staysure, a travel insurance company. Don’t worry, this isn’t to sell you insurance (although after hearing about the medical bill a colleague had recently in Thailand due to lack of insurance, perhaps it should be…very important aspect of travel). All comments discussed here are from their recent findings on when is best to book airport parking and are in italics.
There’s no denying the practical sides of booking travel are a lot less fun. Applying for visa’s, paying off the balance, remembering to get insurance, organising transfers, and planning to get to the airport are the admin side of it, but are necessities that help us get to our chosen destination in the first place.
Not only that, but they can add a pretty big chunk of expense onto your trip that you don’t always consider at the time of booking your fabulous getaway, when your head is (almost) already in the clouds.
For me booking personal travel always has to be convenient, but that changes depending on the type of trip. Being based in Newcastle means that long haul travel is almost always from Manchester or Heathrow. A fixed standard return on the train to London of about £120, plus a tube out to the airport at roughly £20, and of course any airport hotel costs £85+ quickly adds up. I could spend that when I’m there on a nice meal, or experience, or shopping purchase. That’s a days spending money in some places. So I tend to prefer Manchester.
The last time I flew from Manchester I drove down, giving me the freedom to only worry about myself. I left early in the morning meaning I didn’t have to pay for an uncomfortable airport hotel, I wasn’t risking public transport problems, I didn’t have to worry about connecting flights and losing my baggage on the way, and I had the convenience of just jumping into my car to head home on the return.
I booked my car in at the airport parking as soon as my trip was confirmed, opting to choose the more convenient (read ‘lazy’) option of under cover and closest to the terminal. The cost difference if I remember rightly was about £5, and totally worth it for me.
Staysure tell me that ‘at London Heathrow alone, there are nearly 3 passengers for every 1 person who travels through Manchester airport in a year,’
‘Manchester has far more people searching for car parking than any other airport…there are 3 more searches for Manchester airport parking compared to every 1 for parking at Heathrow.’
It totally makes sense. Manchester is the biggest airport in terms of volume outside of London, so it serves a much bigger geographical scope of passengers. It’s just more convenient for UK wide passengers, not to mention a lot less hassle through security. In my own opinion it is more accessible, more flexible, and specifically cheaper for me to travel from there.
I do like Heathrow as an airport, but putting that into context I like Heathrow when I’m traveling with work, for connecting flights, and with hand luggage only. I’d never in a million years drive to Heathrow, especially for personal travel. Like most things in London, there’s a cheaper, quicker and easier way to get where you want to be than to drive anywhere.
‘From our findings, non-London airports have a much higher percentage of flyers looking for parking in comparison with London airports. That’s not to say that London airport parking will be cheaper – in fact it’s often £15-£30 more expensive.’
Despite there being less demand, London airport parking being more expensive just doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. The Northerner in me just thinks well that’s absolutely typical even less reason to drive all the way down there. And I also really hope airports outside of London don’t cotton on to this and put their prices up either higher or to match due to the obvious demand!
I’m already noticing increased airport prices everywhere. Just last week I tweet how shocked I was to see Newcastle drop off car park charge £2 for less than ten mins. I just think it’s absurd. So maybe it really is time that we, or I consider cost with a bit more weight compared to convenience than I have been.
Not driving all the way to London airports is a no brainer, but for travel through the likes of Manchester or Edinburgh, there are ways I could reduce these costs. Staysure cover this in their research on when you should book your airport parking. Is pre booking really cheaper?
You can read the full section in the article itself, but here are 4 of the key facts I’ve pulled out from it:
‘It’s £3.70 more expensive per day to choose your airport car park last minute than pre-booking for a week’
‘1 in 4 airport car parks that offer pre-booked and on the day prices have no difference in price between pre-booked and on-the day.’
There are ‘rare occasions where car parking on the day can work out cheaper than pre-booking! At Glasgow airport, we found that on the day parking was 44p cheaper than pre-booking. This was caused by a last minute offer by the car park trying to increase the number of people booking with them.’
A closer look at airport parking found ‘a huge price difference between the cheapest pre-booked car park and the most expensive car park on the day. London Luton has the largest disparity between the cheapest pre-booked price and the most expensive price on the day. You could have to pay an eye-watering extra £141.49 simply because you haven’t planned ahead and pre-booked.’
£141.49??!! That’s crazy. Even at the lowest price found it’s more expensive by about £25. So whilst some of these findings do show instances where offers can make it cheaper on the day, and some instances where there is no difference, the bottom line that I take from this is that it pays to do your research.
You might be lucky and catch an offer, you might find no difference at all, but even the smallest savings on pre booked airport parking are enough to benefit from. What could you buy yourself with that extra £25, never mind the £141.49 at Luton?
In a world where everything is just getting more and more expensive, and travel is a luxury for most of us, I’m definitely going to sacrifice some convenience over cost. It’s a personal game of balance over your priorities of course, but making an informed decision is going to see you on your way to a great holiday without worrying you’ve been ripped off before you’ve even got on the plane.
When to book airport parking, by Staysure has full details, information sources and analysis.
Has it got you thinking about your airport spending habits?