Gatwick Approved Operator Scheme – how will it affect your meet and greet parking?

Gatwick Airport’s Approved Operator scheme for meet and greet parking companies, which was due to be introduced on Monday, 1 July 2013, has now been delayed until Wednesday, 10 July. On the same day, the airport’s surface access plan, which will prohibit passenger pick-ups from the airport’s forecourts, comes in to force

What is the Approved Operator Scheme?
The Approved Operator Scheme is a joint collaboration with Trading Standards, West Sussex County Council and Gatwick Airport. It is designed to reduce terminal forecourt congestion and prevent rogue meet and greet parking companies from operating at Gatwick Airport.

What are the criteria for joining the scheme?
In order to be accepted into the scheme, meet and greet parking companies must:

  • Hold the British Parking Association ParkMark award for all car parks serving Gatwick
  • Have attained the Buy with Confidence accreditation from Trading Standards
  • Sign and operate within the terms of a licence agreement with the airport.

Where can Approved Operators operate?
Approved Operators can carry out meet and greet operations in specific areas of the terminal forecourts or in the dedicated meet and greet parking zones of the multi-storey car parks. Companies can choose to either:

  • Collect and return vehicles in the Approved meet and greet areas on the airport forecourts
  • Collect vehicles on the airport’s forecourt and return vehicles to customers in the meet and greet zone in the multi-storey car park
  • Collect and return vehicles in the dedicated meet and greet parking zone of the multi-storey car park.

The proposed forecourt areas are:

  • South Terminal
    The far end of the lower forecourt, both lanes
  • North Terminal
    Right hand lane of the outer forecourt

The proposed Approved Operator zones of the multi-storey car parks are:

  • South Terminal
    Ground floor of Car Park 3 (zones F-L)
  • North Terminal
    First floor of Car Park 6 (zones D and E).

The dedicated Multi-storey car park areas will be signed and identified with fins marked ‘Approved Operator only’ – similar to the disabled bay signage.

Where will non-Approved Operators collect and return cars?
Non-Approved meet and greet parking companies are being given time to obtain the necessary criteria to achieve Approved status and may pick up and return vehicles in the multi-storey car park, however, they are not permitted to use the dedicated meet and greet areas allocated to Approved Operators. Anyone who has a booking with a non-approved operator will need to contact their company to check where they will be met on or after 10 July.

Increase in meet and greet parking fees?
It’s extremely likely that the cost of meet and greet parking will increase due to the charges being levied by Gatwick on the Approved Operators. Some parking companies have already increased their charges by the amount Gatwick Airport is charging. Gatwick’s charges are based on vehicle movements and depend on where the meet and greet parking takes place:

  • Forecourt
    £3 per movement, i.e. £6 for a meet and greet
  • Multi-storey car park
    £1.30 per movement (up to 10 minutes)
    £2.00 per movement (10 – 20 minutes)
    Longer than 20 minutes and the regular tariff will apply

No doubt, non-approved parking companies will also have to increase their charges, as they will be forced to use the multi-storey car parks for their operations too.

How to spot Approved Operators
In order to become a member of the Approved Operator Scheme, meet and greet parking companies must obtain the ParkMark Safer Parking award and also Trading Standard’s Buy with Confidence award. Look for the following logos on Gatwick meet and greet parking company websites, which will help you identify Approved Operators:

ParkMark Safer Parking logo

ParkMark Safer Parking logo

Trading Standards Buy With Confidence logo

Surrey Trading Standards Buy with Confidence logo

Alternatively, Gatwick Airport lists the members of its Approved Operator Scheme on its website.

What to do if you’ve already booked meet and greet parking
It’s advisable to book with an Approved Operator as this signifies that the company is a reputable one that has been approved by Trading Standards and is parking your car in a safe, secure car park – not by the side of the road, or in a supermarket or industrial estate car park. You shouldn’t panic however, if you’ve already booked your parking, but you do need to check where you will be met on your arrival at Gatwick and on your return from holiday.

Approved Operators have already started to amend their websites and informing their customers if they are making changes to where they will be collecting and returning vehicles, but if you’re not sure, check your booking confirmation, or call the company you have booked with for further information.

The future of Gatwick meet and greet parking
While the new scheme may cause some confusion and, of course, extra costs to the customers of Gatwick meet and greet parking companies, hopefully, it should mean an end to rogue outfits setting up to take advantage of the seasonal high demand for meet and greet parking without having the necessary procedures, insurance and secure car parks in place to offer a high standard of service that the well-established Gatwick meet and greet parking companies offer.

If you have any concerns, contact your parking company, and also, leave a comment below.

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