10 tips for doing airport parking like a pro
Park-and-ride and meet-and-greet airport parking services are convenient and can save you money, but we’ve all seen horror stories about holidaymakers who fly back to the UK to find their car has gone missing or they have a glovebox full of fines to pay.
Here Mark Hinge, chairman of the Independent Airport Parking Association (IAPA), tells Travelzoo members how to get airport parking peace of mind.
1. Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true
Airport parking horror stories are actually very rare. Millions of cars are parked with meet-and-greet and park-and-ride firms every year, with only a handful of problems. If you book with a reputable, professional company, everything will be fine. If you go with a dirt-cheap deal that seems too good to be true, alarm bells should ring.
2. Beware of the warning signs
Avoid companies that use a mobile phone as a main contact number, or have poor websites with no trading address, no independent reviews or no details of where your car will be parked. They might be offering the cheapest prices, but ask yourself whether your car will be stored securely, and do they have a support structure in place in case things go wrong.
3. Look for the Park Mark
Check that your parking provider has a secure car park.
The first thing to look for is the Park Mark logo (that’s it over on the left), which says that the car park has been police assessed and is being managed to reduce crime – it will likely have CCTV, fencing and be manned 24/7.
4. Read reviews
Look for customer reviews hosted by independent websites such as Reevoo or Feefo. These should be clearly available on the park operator’s website and will include all comments, both bad and good.
5. Check a map
Ask the operator where their parking facility is and then check it out on Google Maps for an armchair view of their car park.
6. Gatwick guidance
At Gatwick, only book with operators who are part of the airport’s own approved parking operator scheme. These companies have been reviewed by the Trading Standards and meet certain standards to ensure the quality of their service.
7. Where will you meet (and greet)?
A meet-and-greet service doesn’t always mean you can pull up at the entrance to the terminal. Where your exchange takes place will depend on the airport and on the operator, so if you have accessibility issues, small children or lots of luggage, check the details first. Sometimes a park-and-ride service might actually drop you closer to the terminal.
8. Check your timings
Park & ride services usually require a bus ride to the airport terminal. For most operators this will be a matter of minutes (often no longer than getting from the airport’s own long stay car park) but you need to factor in how regularly buses run, how long the trip takes and whether you need to account for rush hour traffic. Plan for a worst-case scenario.
9. Exercise caution – even with comparison sites
There are lots of sites that will present deals from different parking operators, helping you compare prices at-a-glance. But remember, when you book using a comparison site there is still another operator taking responsibility for your car, so you need to check their details. The best comparison sites make this really easy to do by presenting all the information you need during the search process.
10. Book with an IAPA member
For complete airport parking peace of mind, look for the IAPA logo to book with a member of the Independent Airport Parking association.
Our members include the biggest national providers and single airport specialists, and all have been reviewed to ensure they provide the very highest airport parking standards.