/ Motoring, Travel & Leisure

Is your car safely stored at the airport or collecting fines elsewhere?

airport parking

Hundreds of holidaymakers were issued with fines after airport parking firms left their cars in council car parks instead of secure facilities over the Easter weekend. Do you really know where your car is when you’re on holiday? 

With thoughts of summer on my mind, I’m planning to use the long weekend to book a much-anticipated holiday to Barcelona with a friend.

We’re taking steps to avoid any accommodation nightmares and flights are straightforward enough. But, I’m concerned for my friend’s car.

While I can get the Tube or train to whichever London airport we depart from in June, she’s planning to drive down from the Midlands and leave her car at one of the airport car parks.

But with fresh reports that cars handed in to some airport parking firms aren’t actually being parked in secure parking facilities, I’ve urged her to check that any company she uses will ensure that hers really is.

This week, it emerged that holidaymakers paid up to £150 a week for a meet-and-greet car parking service at Heathrow over the Easter weekend. They left their keys with the parking firm and fully expected their cars to then be driven to a secure facility.

Problem was, they were actually taken to a council car park 15 minutes away, where they were then issued with multiple parking fine tickets.

Similarly, last year, car owners using a meet-and-greet firm at Manchester Airport discovered that their cars had been left in a pub car park for the duration of their holiday.

How to appeal

So what can you do if you find yourself unfairly issued with a council parking ticket when you believed your car had been left in a secure airport car park?

Well, the good news is, you do have the right to appeal – and our free parking ticket appeal tool can help you challenge it.

Personally, I’m hoping my friend decides to get the train down. I think we’ll rest a lot easier knowing that her car is safely parked at her home.

Have you ever experienced any issues with an airport car parking firm? Or do you prefer to leave your car at home when you go on holiday?


I have not had a parking ticket but last year when I left my car with a meet and greet firm at Manchester airport it had been used while I was away, apparently by building workers. My car was returned with plaster on all the seats and mats, mud and hardcore in the wheel arches, half a tank of petrol had been used whilst in their keeping and my personal belongings had been vandalised. The firm had been recommended by the holiday company and was using the secure tick mark illegally. It is very difficult to check that your car will be kept securely.

We have used APH near Gatwick many times without any issues but have actually found that you can often park at Gatwick or Heathrow’s own carpark for not much more. APH are approved by Gatwick and I think airports can supply a list of approved operators. It is always a good idea to check your mileage before you leave the car so you check if the car has been on a unexpected journey!

Terry says:
29 April 2017

Don’t use ‘meet and greet’ under any circumstances, it’s just asking for trouble.
Park your car yourself, lock it and take your keys with you.

29 April 2017

I fly regularly from Heathrow. I have tried various parking options and have never had a problem with meet and greet. I prefere to use an on site Hotel and take advantage of their superb parking arrangements. I have also used Heathrow Airports own Long stay Car Parking. This works out at around £11.50 a day to park ( cheap at London rates). The transport to and from the terminal is exceptionally fast and it appears to have good security.

I have used Purple Parking/APH many times and have always been very happy with both service and parking.

Jack says:
29 April 2017

I am a Purple Parking user and have found them to be good.
One case of damage was paid for ( after some negotiation with the repairer)

I have used the Meet & Greet service at Robin Hood Doncaster-Sheffield Airport on numerous occasions now as currently it is cheaper than the regular long stay car park. So far I have had no problems at all. Always got my car back as I left it. The same applies to the long stay car park. No problems.

I live very near Gatwick and both our road and those surrounding are clogged up with cars that have been parked and left by the parking companys. The move the cars just before the owner returns from their trip and replaces it with another. They are often parked on single and double yellow lines because the area is not policed by traffic wardens and I have seen some that have been damaged being flashed over with spray cans or being repaired on the curbside.

I have used APH to compare for many many years. Prices seem good when booked ahead. Key is to check the scores customers provide. I have used Meet and Greet for a long time, travel frequently and use the top scoring companies. I leave my car anything between a week and six weeks and have never had a problem with anything. Staff are polite and courteous and I always give a modest tip. Last two years been using I Love Meet and Greet.

I have used meet & greet for many years at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted and never had a problem. More recently i have moved to Gatwick’s and Heathrow’s own parking services as they have been more competitive, and they are even better. I guess you get what you pay for.

I see not much has changed since you did this convo back in 2014


I have used Purple parking at Heathrow on numerous occasions and it is faultless.

We have used the official meet and greet parking at Manchester Airport several times and have always been completely satisfied with the service. On one occasion we flew from terminal 3 but flew back into terminal 1 so our car was in the wrong place. The staff in the parking office had it brought round to us within 5 minutes.

In over 25 yrs of airport parking we have
used Purple Parking at Heathrow and Gatwick. On one trip we had our windscreen shatter on the M25 and they helped arrange for car to be kept extra secure and sort things out with Insurance etc for the car to be fixed asap and they sent tx to us to confirm all was well the next next. However we tried to do it cheaper one year on a quick weekend trip and ended up waiting 4 hours in the middle of the night at this tatty smelly obscure office about 5mls from Heathrow as they had “lost” our vehicle – obviously forgot where they parked it, it came back filthy and stunk of cigarettes.

i have just booked a car park place at Cardiff airport through holiday extras with a 10% discount, i always park at Cardiff airport very well managed. the only gripe i have is some of the places for cars are all loose stone you would think that all the money they make on car parking they would tarmac it all saving cars from getting chips due to loose gravel.

Michael Keen says:
30 April 2017

My wife and I fly from Heathrow several times a year and always leave our car in the appropriate long term car park at the airport – and keep the key with us. Its not the cheapest, but by booking ahead its not too costly and we know where our car is.

Clive Rutherford says:
1 May 2017

I have used Maple Manor (meet and greet) Parking at Gatwick on 3 occassions. Excellent service, no problems.

Eddie says:
1 May 2017

I use Park and Ride at Glasgow and have never had a problem. It is only 5 min from the Airport. My keys never leave me when away. My car is always where I leave it and never moved.

HNMT says:
2 May 2017

I have never had a problem with airport parking either as ‘stand alone’ or combined with a hotel stay.
At Gatwick I use Cophall. Their prices are good as well as giving a consistently good service. They use mini buses rather than coaches for their transfers which means they run as required, not at infrequent intervals which add so much time to your journey. On landing you ring them as you get through customs and they dispatch one as you make your way to the pickup point.

Robert says:
2 May 2017

In February I used Airparks at Luton. Just off the M1 it is quick and easy and much cheaper than the “official” airport long stay. You leave the car at their reception in their secure facility and it is parked for you and brought out ready for you on your return. The transfer time is similar to the airport long stay, but you don’t take so much time driving round a car park to find a space.