/ Motoring, Travel & Leisure

Meet-and-greet airport parking – safe and secure?

Meet and greet parking

How safe is your car when you leave it in the hands of an airport meet-and-greet parking company? You’d hope that your pride and joy is driven safely while you’re away. But that’s not always what we found…

One in ten Which? members have used an airport meet-and-greet service in the last two years and most haven’t had a problem. But nearly one in five who used this kind of parking service has had a problem.

So we tested the services provided by three companies who had received mixed reviews online. We used GPS trackers to see where our cars were parked and how fast they were driven. And we visited the car parks to see for ourselves to see how securely they were stored.

Meet-and-greet undercover investigation

At Stansted airport, shortly after leaving our car in the hands of a Meteor Meet and Greet driver, our car was driven at 98mph on its way to their car park. At Heathrow, the iPark Airport Parking driver hit 88 mph while returning our car to our researcher at the terminal. We left our car with RS09 at Gatwick – it was parked next to what appeared to be a pile of old car parts in a car park very different to the promotional image on its website.

Meteor Meet and Greet has suspended one of its drivers as a result of our investigation and told us: ‘The security of our customers’ vehicles is our main priority, and our drivers must abide by strict codes of conduct. We take any allegations of misconduct very seriously.’

RS09 told us: ‘We believe the service was as advertised and your car was parked safely and securely.’ We contacted iPark and asked it to comment on our findings. It hadn’t responded by the time we went to press.

Claims vs reality of meet-and-greet companies

Our investigation shows that for the three companies we looked at, the claims made on their websites didn’t match the reality. Cars were either driven at speed or parked in areas that didn’t match the car park shown online.

Meet-and-greet companies need to be honest about where our cars are parked and they need to drive them responsibly. Drivers shouldn’t think they can break the law by speeding, and descriptions of car parks need to match the reality.

Have you been taken for a ride by a meet-and-greet parking company?


BBC Watchdog have caught out these meet-and-greet airport parking companies several times by similarly installing tracking devices and then finding their cars parked on public roads. This appears to be a widespread problem.

I once hired a boat from a small company and they offered to park my car safely for the week. Quite by chance I found my car in a pub car park.

It’s not just airport parking where silly games are played.

Meteor say this on their website : “Upon your return please call the number on your email confirmation to let us know you have arrived and we will return your car warmed up and ready to go”. I suppose their drivers are only doing what it says on the packet! I got a quote for our next journey from Heathrow and it came out at not much more than £8 a day over thirteen days. WE won’t be doing it though; we prefer to have a car take us all the way from home in a more restful way and without having to worry about our car.

Paula from Help Me Park says:
25 June 2014

Anyone wishing to use meet and greet parking at Gatwick Airport should use a Gatwick Approved Operator.

Only companies that hold the Safer Parking ParkMark award for their car parks, hold Trading Standards Buy With Confidence accreditation and sign up to operate within Gatwick’s T&Cs can be accepted into the Approved Operator Scheme.

I used one at Southampton Airport a few months ago and was called in Switzerland by the police to advise me that my car was about to be towed because it was obstructing a factory entrance. I called the security at the factory and they very kindly agreed to work around my car until I returned four days later.

Keith says:
15 July 2014

i am flying from Luton in mid September who are the best Meet & Greet at that airport?

I had an issue with Meteor at Manchester airport once. Stood waiting for my car for 45 minutes after repeated calls asking where it was! Complained but never heard a thing. Never again.

Hayley Williams says:
4 October 2014

We have just returned from holiday having used car park manchester airport, the service they provided was NOT meet and greet despite paying for it and when we complained they just shrugged us off. Run by cowboys, DO NOT USE!

I always walk round the car and take a picture on the mobile phone from all angles and the mileage reading.
This saves a lot of disputes if you return and find excessive mileage or bodywork damage

Liz Petley-Jones says:
20 July 2016

I wish I had done that before using APH Copthorne at Gatwick. Car bumpers were covered with grazes which I didn’t discover till later. You need to check the car before you leave their car park or they won’t do anything about it.

Gerry says:
25 November 2014

I used Merry Parking at Gatwick who used another company there. When we arrived a nightmare however someone did pick up car after about 25 minutes.
The return another story car didn’t arrive then supposed to get called back didn’t the a so called manager came with a key double checking it was my key??Before that a story about battery being flat. It wasn’t the a story got stranger they got us a cab and the cab driver took my second key back eventually 2 days later they delivered the car various emails etc. The gangsters at Gatwick wouldn’t pay for new locks and key for car. Still a key missing. Avoid. Same crew Easy park and fly” and “Gatwick Parking 4 you”.
Never use. Shysters.

Hazel says:
1 April 2015

I used a company at Gatwick last year where l left my car and it was taken to a secure parking place. My car was brand new, a week old Toyota Rav. When l went to collect it it looked as if it had been driven in a rally, mud was splashed all over it, even over the side windows. The new carpets were also covered in what had been wet, sloppy mud, which was by now dried and ingrained.
I complained before l left the site and photo’s were taken by their office.
I received a partial refund, which was nothing compared to what they had done to my car.
Never again. I always park the car myself now and hang onto the keys.

Chlo says:
18 June 2015

I had booked and trusted Merry Parking meet and greet service for a week at the end of May 2015. I carried out the handover of my 2014 AUDI A3 CABROLEIT – which was in perfect condition (although needing a wash!)

I met the driver to collect my car and noticed immediately that it had a crisscross pattern of deep scratches on the bonnet. Shockingly someone at Merry Parking or at their parking provider PARK MEET & GREET had scratched bird faeces off with a key or something similar. It has cost £580inc vat to have it re-sprayed.

I contacted them immediately, with the photographic evidence and was offered a ruse of an investigation – the outcome they are accept no liability and suggest that the car was already damaged – LIES!

I’m now forced to take legal action. AVOID AT ALL COSTS!

sandeep says:
15 August 2017

How and what legal action was taken

enzo says:
13 October 2015

Meet and Greet


My car was keyed the complete length on one side. Met the driver he told me that they had to put air in my rear wheel and that should stop at the BP garage nearby to put some air in. I put the bags in the boot and my wife took care of our toddler putting her in the baby seat. Neither of us took any notice of the car until we got out of the car when we got home and discovered the full extent of the vandalism. In my opinion the car was probably parked in residential area whilst we were away. Of course they will not accept any responsibility. I have definitely learnt my lesson and check Safer Parking ParkMark symbol in future .
The cost to repair is around £800

I also booked through Merry Parking. I think they no longer have Easy park and fly” and “Gatwick Parking 4 you”. They informed us they will terminate the contract with them. They have done so but i will be very careful next time i book the meet & greet. However Merry Parking at least communicated rather ignoring.

Claire says:
6 April 2016

We just returned to Gatwick after using ‘meetandgreetgatwickparking’…they took over 60 minutes to return our car after 6 phone calls & many excuses. Upon return our car now has scratches down one side & the rear seats were up (7 seater) so we knew they’d been using our car whilst we were on holiday!! Since trying to log a complaint upon our return I am getting multiple different people answering & no calls back as promised. Fobbing me off. Con men. Reading others’ stories seems we got off lightly!! Never again. Do not use this company!!

considering all i think parking any where is going to be at our own risk. i always check my vehicle before taking the car from any valet service and report any damage then and there as you cannot easily get it solved later. they will always say this person drives it and we don’t know what happend. did you inform when you take the vehicle.. all excuses. surprisingly i had a smooth pick up and drop off at manchester. Merry parking used another company there as well. but will be think twice booking at Gatwick

My son and I have just picked our cars up from Manchester airport. His arrived first and it was absolutely covered in thick dust. Then walking round it we noticed that 2 of his wheel trims had been damaged and scratch on the side. There were 37 more miles on than when it was dropped off. He bought the car 2 days before he dropped it off so was in showroom condition. My car turns up wet so obviously had been washed down. Perhaps my sons had been kept dirty to hide the scratch. Someone has obviously been driving his car around recklessly. I come to park my car and go for the drawer where I always keep a load of change. All the pound coins had gone!! Only about £20 -£30 but still theft. On your website it says for a prompt reply use “chat” so let’s see how long it takes you because if this situation isn’t resolved to my satisfaction within 24 hours I will ring the police and make sure this story does the rounds on the Internet. My best friends brother by the way is editorial director of mirror group newspapers and has helped me in situations like this before. Before you start to blame the company in Manchester and tell me to deal with them I would like to point out that my contract is with merry parking.condition. My car turns up wet so obviously had been washed down. Perhaps my sons had been kept dirty to hide the scratch. Someone has obviously been driving his car around recklessly. I drove home come to park my car in a public car park and go for the drawer where I always keep a load of change. All the pound coins and 50 pence pieces had gone!! Only about £20 -£30 but still theft.

airport parking is becoming much of a headache now. how can we find a secure car park. I thought on airport parking is i think the most safest but my cousin had a disaster last summer. i agree with catherine, I think parking is gonna be at our own risk. sorry about your car nigel. there are many web sites which act as agents. the car parks use these agents to advertise their products. i can share a tip now i look for airport approved car park or at least a trading standard approved car park. if i m not wrong they call this park mar awarded.

looking to site to share my reviews of Merry parking and i saw this blog. well, i actually had a good experience at Bristol. so may be others are not talking about Bristol. The whole experience was seamless. The booking was easy – polite, helpful and very patient with me. The car collector and return fellow were both great too! Thank you merry parking. I’ll be using you on my next trip

Mike says:
23 August 2016

I’ve used a number of different companies over the past 2 years and had no problems in terms of service so far. I use an old car though, and think that it has a few more scratches and dents on it now. When challenged once at the airport about an additional dent, they laughed (since there were other dents already) and told me to email the details to the company. Not surpisingly, they never responded and in fact the small print denies any responsibility for damage under £1000 or over £10,000. So if they write-off your new Range Rover presumably that’s all you’d get back. But I’ve found Meteor’s service very good and their drivers excellent. They seem to be part of Purple Parking and I love Meet & Greet, so it’s the same for them. Bottom line is, don’t give them a car you take pride in, but enjoy the great service that they offer.