Airport drop-off/pick-up charges

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Luton Airport – the highest charges for drop-off/pick-up

If you thought that airports were just aviation bus stops then you have been living in a different world for a couple of decades.

They are now commercial entities where money is made at every opportunity. More than once I have heard from those in the know – as probably you have – that airports would function a lot better if there were no passengers.

Passengers are there to have money removed from their wallets and the RAC has just demonstrated that the airports are working harder than ever to do just that.

It says that more than half of the UK’s biggest airports have raised their fees for drivers parking to pick up friends or family members this summer.

It says that thirteen airports have increased the prices that they charge when you use the drop off/pick-up zones despite the fact the prime purpose was to enable you to get in and get out quickly so you didn’t need to use the airport car parks. By being free when they first came into being, the incentive was not to hang around, to ease parking jams and encourage faster movement. Now they are just another way of boosting revenue.

The welcome to Stansted isn’t that welcoming when you consider Stansted charges

One of the first to start charging was Luton airport and they are also the airport that has raised its prices by more than any other airport this year. It now costs an initial £8 to park for of up to 30 minutes at Luton, which is £1 more than in 2017 when the minimum permitted stay was longer at 40 minutes. I can park for eight days at my local railway station for that figure and I can certainly park for a whole day at some airports long term parking sites.  To rub salt in the wounds, Luton recently closed its short-stay car park, thus leaving drivers to use its new multi-storey car park.

Stansted is the second most expensive, with motorists paying an initial charge of £5.50 for a stay of up to half an hour, followed by Birmingham where the price is £5.10 for stopping for up to an hour – with the airports raising their prices by 50p and 20p this year.

Edinburgh Airport.

Four airports share fourth spot with initial pick-up charges of £4 but – in real terms – Edinburgh is the most expensive as its charge gives drivers only 15 minutes.

Southampton has increased its prices by the most having doubled its fee from £1 to £2, although drivers can now stay for up to 15 minutes rather than the previous 10. Glasgow has raised its minimum charge by 50% from £2 to £3, with drivers now being permitted to park for 20 minutes – twice as long as before.

George Best Belfast City – you get 10 minutes free

Motorists heading for Belfast George Best, Liverpool John Lennon and Leeds Bradford airports will find these are the only three major airports in the UK that still permit free short-stay pick-ups – although Belfast George Best’s free period only lasts 10 minutes. Belfast International charges £1 for 10 minutes but if you leave your car there for an hour it can cost you a penalty of £35.

Stansted has the most expensive initial charge for dropping off, at £3.50 for a stay up to 10 minutes. But the most expensive place to park on ‘per minute’ basis is Manchester where, when it introduces charges shortly, will be  £3 for five minutes – hardly long enough to open the boot, get the bags out, finds a trolley and say good-bye – where it will cost £3, the equivalent of 60p per minute.

At Doncaster Sheffield you will be charges £2 for up to fifteen minutes in the drop-off/pick-up zone or you can have fifteen minutes free in the short term carpark but, of course, you have a longer walk to collect someone. At Prestwick it is an even shorter period – just five minutes in the pick-up/drop-off zone before penalty charges accrue. After the five minutes it costs £2 for up to fifteen minutes. It is also five minutes at Southend but you can get fifteen minutes free if you use long term carpark three. That is a waste of time since it takes five minutes to walk each way to the airport and back giving you absolutely no extra time at all – unless you run instead of walk!

Cardiff Airport stills free-of-charge pick-up and drop-off © Richard Swingler

East Midlands lets you have a whole hour free – provided you park in the long-term carpark 1. Allow five minutes to get to the airport and back again and don’t forget the buses run only every ten minutes, so potentially (and assuming the buses run to time) you can kiss goodbye to half –an-hour. The alternative is to pay £2.00 for 10 minutes at the drop-off/pick-up area and £1.00 for every minute thereafter so an hour would cost you £52 or to park in the short-term carpark for half-an-hour which would cost you £3.50.

Cardiff, Gatwick, Heathrow and London City allow drivers to drop off/ pick-up passengers free-of-charge outside their terminals. Newcastle allows you to use the medium stay car park free for fifteen minutes. Allow six minutes to walk to and from the terminal and y still get nine minutes of time to drop-off and pick-up which, if you helping with the luggage you might need.

The Civil Aviation Authority publishes a two-page guide to airport charges which includes not just drop off/pick-up parking charges but also charges (where applied) for plastic bags in which to put your hand baggage liquids and if you want to use the express lanes



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