The inconvenient truth about airport meet and greet parking: Research reveals service could add at least an hour to travel time
- Some airport car parking services leave travellers 5 miles from airport terminal
- Airparks Drop and Go at Birmingham is a 14-minute drive from the airport
- At Edinburgh, the meet and greet service from Low Cost charges £47 for a week-long stay
Holidaymakers who use a ‘meet and greet’ airport car parking service over the coming weeks could end up adding at least an hour to their travel time.
Some of these services, which boast they are convenient and save time, leave travellers five miles away from the airport terminal and forced to wait for a shuttle bus.
Research by The Mail on Sunday found that Airparks Drop and Go at Birmingham is a 14-minute drive from the airport, with buses only coming every 25 minutes.
Fact: Holidaymakers who use a ‘meet and greet’ airport car parking service over the coming weeks could end up adding at least an hour to their travel time
At Edinburgh, the meet and greet service from Low Cost charges £47 for a week-long stay, with travel to the airport taking six minutes by a bus that runs every 20 minutes.
Maple Parking’s service costs £3 more, but only involves a two-minute walk to the check-in.
In theory, meet and greet services allow travellers to drive to an airport terminal and hand over their keys, then walk with their luggage to catch their flight.
The car is then taken to a nearby location, parked and then driven to outside the terminal building as soon as the return flight touches down.
Customers can pay between £50 and £100 a week for such a service, with key attractions being the anticipated saving on time and luggage carrying.
It is an unregulated market, so it is important to use an officially approved operator listed on an airport’s website. Some cowboy operators have been known to take vehicles for a spin, steal items from inside, or leave them parked by the roadside.
Comparison websites such as Airport Parking Shop, Parking4Less and Airport Parking and Hotels can help in the search for a reputable provider, but motorists must study where they need to drop off their car as the cheapest deals usually come with inconvenient off-airport meeting points.
Phillippa-Jane Vermoter, of consumer website Money.co.uk, says: ‘The cheapest deal is not great value if it means walking miles or having to get on to a shuttle bus to get to an airport. You may pay for a convenience that is not convenient at all.’
Alternative: Hotel chains, such as Holiday Inn, Travelodge, Ibis and Hilton, often allow cars to be parked for the duration of a holiday for a competitive rate
She suggests looking at reviews made by customers before picking a deal, although some providers are known to put up their own glowing reviews to lure in travellers.
Sarah Pennells, of money website Savvy Woman, says: ‘For those travelling with children and lots of luggage, meet and greet can be a time and stress saver. But research is vital.’
Booking at least a fortnight in advance can knock up to 60 per cent off the price – and result in a car park place a couple of minutes from the airport check-in. Look out for a ‘park mark’ – a tick sign logo used by meet and greet services to indicate they are deemed safe by police.
But travellers should still not leave valuables or private documents in their vehicle. Mileage should be noted – in case the car is driven when it is meant to be parked.
If you are driving a long way to an airport to catch an early morning flight it can be more convenient to stay at a local hotel offering car park facilities.
Hotel chains, such as Holiday Inn, Travelodge, Ibis and Hilton, often allow cars to be parked for the duration of a holiday for a competitive rate.
For example, a double room at Holiday Inn Gatwick Worth currently costs £113 for one night, including car parking for a week. Travel to the airport terminal costs £11.50 each way – and takes around 12 minutes.
In defending its meet and greet service, Airparks Drop and Go says: ‘Customers sometimes find it difficult to understand the difference between services due to the wording used.
‘We do not wish to confuse customers and if anyone is unsure about what they might be getting we are happy to take their call. Our drop and go service is similar to park and ride as you get a bus from a car park rather than being dropped off at a terminal.’
Low Cost says: ‘We are just a car park – it is as simple as that. Customers benefit from getting a short free bus ride to the airport.’