Convenience, cost or safety – what’s top of your priority list when parking at an airport or using a meet-and-greet service? Are you confident that your car won’t be mistreated or stolen while you’re away?
Leave your car at an airport’s official car park and you may have to fork out more than the cost of the airfare if you pay at the airport. A week’s stay at Heathrow now costs from £120.
You can of course make considerable savings by booking in advance. In Which? Travel’s latest research, we found that on-site airport parking can be three times as cheap if you pre-booked instead of paying at the airport. Birmingham airport’s long-stay parking for seven days cost £28 pre-booked, compared with £85 if you chose to turn up and pay.
Private off-site car parks often – but not always – cost even less, although the distance from the terminal can make this less convenient.
Extra cost is worth the convenience
Our Conversation on the subject last summer provoked a wide range of comments on the merits and frustrations of using on-site or off-site car parks, as well as meet-and-greet services.
Alan told us he’s tried various parking options at the London airports:
‘I personally find the few extra pounds to park on-site good value for money. I have never had trouble getting to the car in good time which is a bonus, especially after a long and tiresome flight.’
Derek Gough was unhappy with his experiences of both on-site and off-site car parks:
‘One off-site parking company directed me into a field where I got stuck in the mud in my 10 day old car. Another site had my car blocked in on my return and the attendant refused to move the offending car!’
Can you trust the car park operator?
Several of the comments showed that the cost of parking isn’t always the main bugbear. Dave handed his shiny new car over to a parking attendant near East Midlands airport, telling us:
‘On my return the car had gained 15 miles on the clock, all the radio stations had been changed as well as seating position.’
Another commenter, David, found his car had been badly damaged while parked near an airport hotel.
‘The hotel claimed it wasn’t their responsibility, they claimed that it had been hit by the airport transfer coach, a separate company. The airport coach company denied this…I ended up having to claim this on my insurance and pay my own excess.’
We do have some legal rights as all aspects of the service have to be carried out with reasonable care and skill. The important thing to check is the terms and conditions before choosing the operator, just to see what liability they might try to avoid. It’s also worth checking your car insurance policy to see if they would pay out on a claim for damage caused by a car park employee who isn’t a named driver on the policy.
Do you trust off-site car parks or would you rather pay a little more to park closer to the terminal?