Would you pay £38 to save 10 minutes of your time? This is the type of question many holidaymakers face when choosing where to park their car at the airport.
What’s the most important consideration for you when choosing airport parking? For me it was always price. That was until I spent half an hour in the cold waiting for a shuttle bus to take me back to my car after a nine-hour flight.
Now, I’m not for one minute suggesting that price is always an indicator of quality of service, but my chilly experience did make me change the way I choose my car park. I now pay much closer attention to the other car park features, such as frequency of transfers and journey times.
And it seems that I’m not the only one, as some of you highlighted the importance of price vs convenience the last time we asked you about airport car parking.
Spoilt by convenience
I live a 40-minute drive from Gatwick Airport – too far away for an affordable taxi ride, but too close to warrant taking the train into London before travelling back out again. I also like the convenience of driving to the airport and the benefit of having the car ready for my return, especially when arriving on a late night flight when public transport can be less reliable.
However, I always find myself wrestling with the decision of where to park. Typically, but not always, you’ll pay a higher price to park at an on-site car park (which are usually closest to the airport terminal). Off-site car parks are typically cheaper (but can be quite far away).
When did car parking get so complicated?
Am I the only one who thinks that choosing an airport car park used to be much simpler? Yes, the mix of long-stay, mid-stay, short-stay, on and off-site car parks has been around for a while. But at the last count I found over ten different types of parking available, including the options of indoor, outdoor, valet (with or without a car wash!), premium and business. And that’s before you even consider ‘meet and greet’ services or airport hotel park-and-fly packages.
In our recent research into airport parking, I even found packages that include the use of airport Fast Track security lanes, porter services, plus £25 in food and shopping vouchers!
And the answer is?
So would I spend £38 to save 10 minutes of my time? The answer is probably no. £38 is the price difference I found in Which? Travel’s latest airport car parking research. It’s the extra money you would pay for choosing Gatwick’s valet parking (a five-minute walk to the terminal) over their long-term car park (five-minute bus transfers that depart every 10 minutes).
I’ve used, and have been impressed, with both services. I loved the ease of the valet service, but have also found the cheaper long stay car park convenient, with regular and quick transfers. For me, I think the price difference would need to be a maximum of £15 for me to even consider using the valet again. I have, however, made the choice to pay extra to park on-site in the first place, in this case an extra £4 to do so. With the benefit of more regular and faster transfers, it’s a price I feel is worth paying.
Are you prepared to pay more to be closer to the terminal or do you value money savings over time savings?