Above: London Stansted Airport
Research by roadside assistance firm RAC has found that nearly half of the UK’s busiest airports have hiked the price for entering passenger pick-up points in 2017, whereas a quarter have also increased drop-off prices.
For drop-offs, the research compared the drop-off prices for the closest set-down access by the departures building for the UK’s 20 busiest airports. In 2016, the RAC found that London Stansted Airport, alongside London Luton Airport had the joint highest drop-off fee at £3 (US$4) for just 10 minutes. In 2017 however, Stansted increased its charge with 10 minutes now costing drivers £3.50 (US$4.60), making it the UK’s costliest airport for dropping off outside the terminal building.
Meanwhile, Liverpool John Lennon Airport charges £3 (US$4) for 20 minutes at its express drop-off, though a secondary drop-off area which is a five to 10-minute walk from the terminal is free for 40 minutes.
Glasgow International Airport has also done away with free drop-offs, with the airport demanding £2 (US$2.60) for 10 minutes. Birmingham Airport operates a premium set-down facility which charges £2 (US$2.60) for 10 minutes, however this has been partially offset by new free drop-off facilities slightly further away from the terminal entrance. Edinburgh Airport also offers good value at £1 (US$1.30) for five minutes.
Seven airports maintain free drop-off parking by their departure terminals – London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London City, Cardiff, Manchester, Belfast City, and Jersey.
For passenger collections, the research found that it is becoming increasingly expensive to park at the recommended short-stay car park near the arrivals terminal. RAC found that eight of the top 20 airports have put up the initial price of pick-up parking in 2017 with price rises on initial tariffs ranging between £0.20 (US$0.26) and £1 (US$1.30).
London Luton Airport still has the highest initial fee at £7 (US$9.20) for 40 minutes although this is unchanged on last year’s price. Next up is London Stansted Airport which now charges £5 (US$6.60) for 30 minutes [an increase of £0.50 (US$0.66)] on 2016), followed by Birmingham Airport charging £4.90 (US$6.50) for one hour [up £0.20 (US$0.26)] and Manchester with a £4 (US$5.30) fee for 30 minutes [up £0.50 (US$0.66)].
Visitors to London’s City Airport get 10 minutes to collect passengers for the minimum stay fee of £3.50 (US$4.60) [up £0.50 (US$0.66)], however it will cost them £7.50 (US$9.90) to park for 30 minutes. At Edinburgh, drivers have 15 minutes’ stay time for the minimum fee of £3.90 (US$5.10), but 30 minutes will cost £6.30 (US$8.30).
Other major airports to follow suit and increase their pick-up parking tariffs in 2017 are London Heathrow which now charges £3.80 (US$5) for 30 minutes [up £0.20 (US$0.26)] and London Gatwick which charges £3.80 (US$5) for 30 minutes [up £0.30 (US$0.39)].
Just Leeds Bradford Airport and Liverpool John Lennon Airport stand out as offering free pick-up parking (one hour at Bradford and 40 minutes at Liverpool). Belfast City Airport does offer 10 minutes’ free parking but you will have to be confident that you can collect your passengers quickly. A more realistic 30 minutes will cost £3 (US$4).
Cardiff and Southampton airports have recently abandoned free pick-up parking for 20 minutes and 10 minutes respectively, introducing a £1 (US$1.30) charge for 10 minutes parking at both.
Pete Williams, an RAC spokesperson, said, “The eye-watering drop-off and pick-up costs at some airports is likely to be viewed by drivers as another way of making money out of them, particularly in instances where public transport to and from the airport simply isn’t a viable option.
“This year many airports have increased the already sky-high prices they charge for short-stay parking near their departure and arrival terminals making a good deed a costly experience.
“Drop-off charges are the biggest bone of contention as for many they appear severe when they are simply pulling up for less than five minutes and often don’t even get out of the car themselves. For that reason, we applaud the seven of the top 20 airports for maintaining their free drop-off zones.
“As millions are planning to fly away this half-term we strongly advise anyone planning on driving their family and friends to, or collecting them from, the airport to find out the drop-off and pick-up charges before they travel or be prepared for an unpleasant shock.
“For travelers using a taxi to get to and from the airport, be aware some taxi firms may add the cost of the pick-up and drop-off parking fee to your fare. Always check when you book.”