Gatwick Parking Options

With Christmas fast approaching and your flights booked, it’s time to consider all the extras you need to organise before your trip, including airport parking.

Maybe, you haven’t thought about it yet, but if you want to save money, it’s best to book as early as possible.

There are actually quite a few options available, but fear not – here’s a complete guide to Gatwick Airport Parking:

Gatwick Meet and Greet Parking
Arguably the most convenient of all the parking options, Gatwick Meet and Greet parking (sometimes also referred to as Valet Parking) is an option whereby you drive directly to the airport terminal.

There are dedicated meet and greet drop off zones outside the North and South Terminal buildings where you drive up and meet your parking representative. Simply put, you hand over your keys, you make your way directly into the airport terminal and the parking rep takes you car to a safe and secure off site car parking facility nearby.

On your return, once you have made your way through baggage reclaim, you call your rep and when you come out of the terminal building your car is ready and waiting for you, with the parking rep, in the dedicated collection zones.

This car parking option is convenient as you don’t have to drive to an off-site car park, park, and get a courtesy bus back to Gatwick or lug heavy baggage around. You simply get out of your car, unload your luggage and walk straight into the airport. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Families, the elderly and less mobile find Gatwick Meet and Greet Airport Parking particularly favourable, as do those travelling with excess luggage or sports equipment.

Please note, whilst there are many legitimate meet and greet providers, Gatwick Airport recommend using one of their Gatwick Approved Operators. These Operators have been through a rigorous screening processes, must use only Park Mark awarded car parks, and must be Trading Standards Buy With Confidence approved. What’s more, only Gatwick Approved Operators are allowed to operate from the airport terminals.

Short-Stay Car Parks
This parking option is in one of the airport’s own car parks. Situated right in the airport grounds, it’s just a short distance from your car, via an escalator or lift, into the terminal building.

This is usually the most expensive type of airport parking as parking is charged by the hours for the first day and then per day thereafter. Parking in the short-stay car park is suitable for stays of a couple of days, any longer and stays tend not to be cost effective.

Off-Airport Parking
A common airport parking option, off-airport, or Gatwick park and ride, as it is often known is invariably the cheapest.

This involves you driving to a car park a short distance away from Gatwick, usually around a 10-minute drive. Here you check in your vehicle; once that is done you wait for the next courtesy bus to take you to Gatwick Airport – waiting times for shuttle buses vary, some operate every 20 minutes, some companies, such as Cophall Parking, operate an on-demand service.

On your return journey, you wait outside the terminal building for the next available bus which will take you back to the car park. Once at the car park you will need to go to the Reception Desk to release your vehicle.

The elderly and less able sometimes struggle with this parking as they do need to load and unload their baggage from their vehicle onto the bus, and then off again once at the terminal.

If you are considering this airport parking option, do bear in mind that you should leave approximately 30 – 40 minutes travelling time from when you need to check in.

Return Greet Parking
Not overly common, and not many providers offer this service, but this parking is similar to Off-Airport parking, but with a ‘meet and greet’ style twist…

So you would get to the airport in the same way as Off-Airport parking – you drive to the car park and catch the bus back to the airport. However, on your return, your vehicle is ready and waiting for you outside the airport terminal.

On-Airport Long-Stay Parking
This Gatwick parking option isn’t dissimilar to Off-Airport parking, although car parks are closer to the airport, within the airport’s boundary, and therefore the distance from where you park your car to the terminal isn’t too far.

However, do check as some car parks are slightly further away and you’ll need to use a shuttle bus to get to the terminal.

Park and Stay Packages
This car parking option is a consideration if you live a long way from Gatwick and want to travel down the day before, rather than risk motorway delays and diversions.

Park and stay packages can usually be booked with any of the parking options above. In the case of Meet and Greet Airport Parking, you can usually arrange for the parking company to collect your car when you arrive at the airport. Some airport hotels, usually those a short distance from Gatwick, offer on-site parking.

Whatever type of parking you choose, it’s advisable to book it as soon as you can to get the best possible price.

6 Tips for flying with kids from Gatwick

The summer holidays aren’t far away now, so if you’re travelling though Gatwick Airport with children this summer check out these top tips about Gatwick’s children’s facilities so you can make the whole experience that little bit easier and simpler – getting your holiday off to a flying start.

  1. Meet and Greet Airport Parking
    If you’re driving yourself to Gatwick then be sure to book a Gatwick Approved Operator for meet and greet airport parking – arguably the only way to park when you’re travelling with children.Forget lugging children and luggage out of your car and back onto a coach from the remote airport car park, followed by a 15-minute journey back to the airport. Instead, drive right up to the airport terminal; pull up into the Approved Operator dedicated laybys where your driver is ready and waiting for you. They take your car to be parked so you can make your way straight into the airport.Do note, only Gatwick Approved Operators are allowed to use the Gatwick forecourts and Gatwick recommends only using an Approved Operator.
  2. Porter Service
    If the thought of getting through the airport with children fills you with dread, or you’ve never flown from Gatwick before, why not look into Gatwick’s Porter Service (Gatwick First). It’s ideal for families who can spend their time looking after their children (especially when it’s busier summer holidays) instead of negotiating the busy airport.This service offers you a dedicated Porter who will meet your as soon as you arrive, whether that’s in the car park or the train station for example. Ready with a trolley for your cases, they will guide you through check-in, security and the departure lounge.The Porter service at Gatwick operates 7 days a week, from 6am until 10pm and costs £10 for five bags or less, and £20 for six or more bags per family (up to 5 persons) – prices correct at time of writing.
  3. Kids’ Zones
    Kids’ Zones are specially designed soft play areas for children to let off steam and run around before your flight, plus TV areas (and plenty of seating for the mums and dads to relax with a cuppa). What’s more, they are free to use too!If you’re flying out of the South Terminal your Kids’ Zone is in the Departure Lounge, opposite Café Rouge.Flying from the North Terminal? Here you’ll find the Kids’ Zone is in the Departure Lounge, behind Boots.
  4. Game Grid
    For older children, Gatwick has entertainment covered too. Check out the Game Grid areas, full of full of video games, open 24 hours a day, landside (so before you pass security). Do note that charges are made to play each game.
  5. Family Assistance Security Lanes
    Do you dread the thought of queuing up through security with children? Don’t worry; use the airport’s dedicated Family Lanes which are geared up especially for families. The staff there offers help and advice and you’ll be surrounded by fellow passengers also with young children.Family Assistance lanes are in both the South and North terminals.
  6. Baby Changing Facilities
    Gatwick has made it easy for you to feed and change your baby. Look out for the large yellow ‘baby bottle’ signs to identify the location of dedicated baby change stations that offer clean and private changing facilities – there are also pull-down change tables in each of the ladies’ and men’s toilets.Boots the Chemist stocks a good supply of baby-change and feeding products, just in case you’ve run out or forgotten anything.

South East airports expansion gets support

A campaign to support airport expansion proposals across the South East, called ‘Let Britain Fly’, has the support of more than 100 major businesses.

The hotly debated topic of expanding the UK’s airports – before aviation business is lost to rapidly expanding European based hubs and hubs in the Middle East – is usually supported, or opposed, by MPs, aviation heads and airports. However, major businesses have now shown their support. And vocally, with no holds barred, citing comments like ‘the UK will become a second rate economy’ unless the air capacity problem is resolved, and quickly.

The businesses are supporting the expansion of UK airspace in general, rather than showing out-and-out support for one of the many plans currently on the table – such as, Heathrow’s bid to build a third runway, Gatwick’s bid to build a second runway and Boris Johnson’s bid to create a brand new airport hub, nicknamed ‘Boris Island’.

Big city business leaders backing the ‘Let Britain Fly’ campaign include Sir Marin Sorrell of WPP, George Weston of Associated British Foods, Aggreko’s Rupert Soames and Lord Wolfson of Next, claiming that the UK must remain competitive and continue as a global business centre. Something that many figures backing the UK aviation expansion say is already at risk. Other high street and household names supporting the campaign include Boots UK, Dixons, John Lewis, Land Securities, Lloyds Banking Group and Hilton Worldwide.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Sir Martin Sorrell  said: “We live in a world where connectivity is key – not only in digital but also in physical terms. This means we urgently need MPs to put our long-term national interest ahead of short-term politics”.

Whilst Chief Executive of Business Group, London First, Baroness Jo Valentine, said: “After 50 years of stop-start government mismanagement of our airport infrastructure, the Airports Commission represents the final call for politicians of all parties to step up and sort out the problem.”

At the end of the year, the Government will receive a first draft report from its the Davies Commission. A final report, with complete recommendations to overcome the UK’s air capacity problems, will be submitted by the Davis Commission after the next General Election in 2015.

Allocated seating options see huge profits for airlines

How many of us have booked flights for friends and family assuming that, as they’re all under one booking, you’ll all be sitting together?

Well, you could be forgiven for thinking just that. However, when you book your flight you aren’t guaranteed to be sitting together at all. In fact, the only way you can guarantee to be sitting together is if you pre-book allocated seating – at a cost.

Since the airlines and tour operators introduced add-on fees, such as allocated seating, they have seen huge profits as a result.

Many travellers, who fear not being able to sit together, pay the high charges to request allocated seating – a particular concern for families travelling, who run the risk of their children sitting away from them on a flight, next to complete strangers. Given that all children above the age of two have to have their own individual seat, that’s a really worry for parents.

In the past, budget, no frills airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair didn’t offer allocated seating. Instead, travellers had to endure the airport ‘bun fight’ queuing system to get on the plane first, some opting to pay for an upgraded ‘priority boarding’ tickets to avoid this. However, never one to ‘miss a trick’ the budget carriers saw other airlines making considerable profit from allocated seating options and so too, followed suit.

We can see just how profitable add-on services, such as allocated seating, are as easyJet this week announced its profits. Profits that rose by a whopping 51% to £478 million! As a result, shares rose by nearly 6%, which will see a possible dividend pay-out to shareholders of around £175million.

These huge profits have seen the airline, for the first time ever, make more profit than competitor, Ryanair.

easyJet attribute this increase in profits to many areas, however, allocated seating is a primary area. Chief Executive, Carolyn McCall, confirmed to the BBC that allocated seating had had a ‘big impact on profitability’, saying that allocated seating was “a nice, calmer boarding process, and a lot of people have taken up the option.”

Boris Island Airport hub unveiled

As Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports all compete to gain fadditional runways, plans for a new UK airport hub have been unveiled.

The plans, a futuristic hub style airport, have been unveiled by the Thames Estuary Research and Development group (TESTRAD).

Dubbed ‘Boris Island’ due to the overwhelming support from London Lord Mayor, Boris Johnson, the new airport hub would be built in the Thames Estuary in Kent.

These are the second plans to be submitted for the proposed new Thames Estuary airport. The first plans, for a four-runway airport, were presented by architect, Norman Foster two years ago.  TESTRAD’s submission offers six runways.

TESTRAD’s plans are also supported by Mayor Johnson, who has publically snubbed Heathrow expansion plans, saying that by expanding Heathrow millions of Londoners would be exposed to unacceptable levels of noise pollution.

The new airport, named London Britannia Airport, would be in direct competition with Heathrow Airport, which is currently operating at 99% capacity. Heathrow has also submitted their own plans to expand to three runways, citing that the country, and airlines, could not support two hub airports.

As well has having six runways, TESTRAD’s London Britannia Airport would include green space inside its terminals, including grass and tree areas, and cost £47 billion and create 200,000 jobs. It’s expected that, if the new Thames Estuary Airport was built, it would end in the closure of Heathrow.

Airport and UK aviation heads have claimed that the Government’s delay over air capacity is costing the UK millions of pounds worth of business, as airlines move operations to competitor airport hubs across Europe.

Currently the Government is awaiting advice and suggestions from their independent report into the Country’s air capacity problem. Suggestions which will include expanding Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, plus other London airports, and possibly regional airports too. The Davies Commission is due to reveal its initial findings and recommendations at the end of this year, with its final and full report presented to the Government after the next General Election.

Airport Must-Haves Wish List Revealed

A spot of shopping and a bite to eat can satisfy most travellers whilst they spend their couple of hours in an airport. However, for those who frequent airports on a regular basis, or those poor souls who have been delayed for hours, the entertainment on offer at an airport is pretty much none existent.

Whilst there are many duty free shops to wander around, whiling away the hours can prove boring. So just imagine, if you could have anything in the world, put in your local airport, what would it be?

Well, leading online flight comparison website, Skyscanner, wondered too. And as a result they conducted a recent survey to reveal exactly what would be on a traveller’s wish list at the airport.

The survey which took the views of a whooping 10,000 travellers saw the most sought after thing in an airport to be… a cinema!

Yes, a cinema was voted for as the most desirable item by a massive majority of 49%.

Sleep pods came a close second, receiving 36% of the votes – sleep pod in Japanese hotels, situated close by airports, are extremely popular, whereby business travellers get a few hours shut eye before their next business meeting and flight. Many families wanted to see an outdoor, green grass parks whereby little ones could not only be entertained, but perhaps worn out before their flight too! Gatwick’s child friendly areas in peak summer holidays have proved to be a real hit in recent years.
Fancy a spa treatment to get your body beach ready before your break? Then you’d be agreeing with 30% of those polled in the survey who wished for spa centres and beauty rooms.

Not making the top ten, but worth a mention, was a karaoke machine – can you imagine the dulcet tones of your fellow travellers screaming out across the airport? No, perhaps not! Making this wish list entry only receive 5% of the vote!

So here’s the official Skyscanner Top 10 of the Most Wanted Things In An Airport:

  1. Cinema – 49%
  2. Sleep pod – 36%
  3. Library – 32%
  4. Park – 31%
  5. Vanity area – 30%
  6. Kids play area – 21%
  7. Pool – 20%
  8. Gym – 15%
  9. Man-made beach – 12%
  10. Bikes – 11%

What about you? What must-haves do you think Gatwick needs?

Parking Companies Leave Drivers Stranded at Gatwick

Two Gatwick parking companies have left drivers stranded this week, due to a dispute between two parking operators.

Those people who booked their parking with EPS and APG arrived back after their flight to expect their cars to be ready and waiting for them. Only they were not. They weren’t just late, oh no, they didn’t turn up!

Today, 9th October, it has been reported that the dispute between the two companies meant that customer cars were not where they should have been, with customers reporting them missing. This resulted in many customers having to travel home, under their own steam, to return the next day with spare keys to retrieve their cars themselves.

West Sussex Trading Standards has confirmed that both EPS and APG will be investigated following a large number of complaints.

The incidents highlight the problems which can occur when using non-approved meet and greet parking companies.

Gatwick Airport introduced the Approved Operator Scheme in July this year, and in order to become an approved meet and greet parking company, companies must meet strict criteria including:

  • Hold the Safer Parking ParkMark award, for all operational car parks. Park Mark® is operated by the British Parking Association, in conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers
  • Hold the Buy With Confidence Accreditation awarded by Trading Standards
  • Have signed Gatwick Airport’s Terms of Licence Agreement.

It’s advisable to only book an Approved Operator for your Gatwick meet and greet parking.

If you’ve been caught out by either EPS or APG recently please feel free to add a comment below.

Protestors Increase Anti APD Campaign

The Government stands firm on its decision to keep the profit making Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax.

However, anti-APD campaigners continue to barrage MPs about the damaging effects it is having on the UK’s economy and aviation industry.

APD, infamously referred to as the ‘air congestion tax’, is here to stay, so it seems, as the UK struggles to copy with finding extra air space.

Leading anti-APD campaigners, A Fair Tax on Flying, now look to put additional pressure on the Government following the expansion of Lilian Greenwood’s role as Labour front bencher, which sees her brief now include aviation. The Fair Tax On Flying group says the move gives substantial time to step up the pressure on the Opposition between now and the General Election in 2015.

The British APD is around 30 times higher than similar taxes charged across the world. As a result, the UK Government brings in £2.3 billion a year in revenue generated from APD. And by 2015 this is set to rise to a staggering £3.8 billion.

Aviation, travel and business heads, both in the UK and internationally, believe the UK will ultimately lose out on vital business due to the tax, along with losing major aviation business to competitor European hubs. Business that cannot afford to be lost, especially as the aviation and travel industry is one of the largest contributors to the UK economy, contributing around £20.6 billion a year!

The gradual rise in APD has certainly had an effect on the amount of long haul traffic out of the UK – in the last two years long haul travel has witnessed a dramatic decline as the expensive APD add-on to holiday prices puts long haul destinations off the map for many.

As a result of the affect APD is having on long haul travel, more than 50 tourist board wrote to the Government saying that further rises in APD would have “serious consequences” for them – in particular Caribbean countries, such as the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, where this year numbers have declined rapidly.

So much so, Barbados is launching a ‘free spending money’ campaign in a bid to draw UK holiday makers back to the country as they see their tourism industry decline, potentially have devastating effects to their economy.

A rapid rise in short haul destinations, with more affordable APD charges apply, has been seen, with Spanish destinations topping the popularity stakes from nearly all UK airports this year.

The Government is set on increasing APD each year. If you would like to voice your concerns over APD then you can lobby your local MP. Alternatively join the Fair Tax On Flying campaign.

Information on Flying With Children Out of Gatwick

If you are one of the lucky ones flying out of Gatwick Airport for the bank holiday, then check out the following information on the children’s facilities offered at Gatwick. All to help make your time at the airport with children that little bit easier!

Gatwick meet and greet parking
When you’re travelling with children the last thing you want to do, when trying to park your car at the airport, is to think about finding a car park and lugging both your children and luggage on and off a coach.

Well, by booking Gatwick meet and greet airport parking you don’t have too! Meet and greet parking is the only way to park with children if you want to arrive stress free! Simply drive right up to the airport terminal. Your driver is waiting for you to park your car, leaving you and your little ones to make your way straight into check-in.

If you are struggling with luggage, push chairs and little ones then Gatwick offers a Porter service. Pre-booking your Porter will mean someone is there to meet you – whether that’s at the terminal entrance, in the car park or at the train station, assisting you right through to check-in.

Dedicated Family Lanes
Gatwick has dedicated family lanes at the security points at either ends of your flight – as you make your way into the Departure Lounge and when you arrive back into the UK. These lanes give families extra help, space and time, when passing through with small children and buggies.

Kids’ Zone Play Areas
To give your children some time to run around, Gatwick has introduced its new Kids’ Zones – and they are totally free to use! There’s a soft play area for little ones, somewhere to watch TV, and what’s more, plenty of seating!

If you’re flying out of the North Terminal you’ll find the Kids’ Zone behind Boots, and if flying out of the South Terminal, it’s upstairs opposite Cafe Rouge.

Airport Lounges
Many travellers prefer to book an airport lounge to truly relax whilst they are at the airport. Gatwick plays host to a lounge in each terminal, which welcomes children under 12. The lounges offer complimentary hot and cold food and refreshments including wines and beers.

The North Terminal lounge, managed by Servisair Lingfield has a separate children’s area with video games and computers. The South Terminal lounge, managed by No.1 has a dedicated family area for under 6s, plus a games round and cinema for older children.

Gatwick Airport Security Information

As at any airport, security is tight at Gatwick.

While most travellers are familiar with what is expected when passing through security, there are many travellers who are still uncertain about what they should and shouldn’t do.

Passing through the security areas unprepared can cause delays to both you and fellow passengers if you are caught completely unawares.

So here’s a helpful, quick reminder, on the procedures when passing through Security at Gatwick Airport:

  • As you approach the Security Gate have your boarding card and passport ready for inspection
  • As you approach the X-ray machines prepare your luggage for inspection…
    • All your liquid products, contained in a resealable clear plastic bag, should be removed from your hand luggage and placed separately in the plastic trays provided – your liquids bag and hand luggage can share the same tray to pass through the X-ray machine
    • Remove your laptop from its case – the device and its case will need to be screened separately
    • All other large electrical equipment must be removed from your hand luggage and any casing it is travelling in for screening
  • Remove your coat and place it in one of the plastic trays so it can be screened
  • Remove your belt and place in a tray, this can be placed in the same tray as your coat
  • Remove all loose change from your pockets and place in the plastic trays – your change can be put in a tray along with your coat and bel
  • You may be asked to remove your shoes and pass back through the body scanners if it sets off the X-ray machine when you walk through it.

Gatwick has introduced dedicated security lanes for families and those travelling with reduced mobility. These assistance lanes are clearly marked so if you qualify to use them do so to help you make your way through security easier.