Booking Gatwick airport parking can be a minefield as comments on an article published here a few months ago have highlighted. However, there are many types of parking available at Gatwick and various types of packages too. Below is a short guide to the different types of parking available and tips on how to book and what to check for when booking:
On-airport parking is situated within the airport boundary and, depending on the choice of car park, can be located a short walk from the airport terminal or a short shuttle bus journey from the terminal – if being a short walk away is important to you check the location and distance of the car park before booking.
Off-airport parking is situated outside of the airport boundary. Often the cheapest type of parking, these car parks are operated by private companies and require customers to drive to the car park, park and then catch a shuttle bus to the airport.
Short-stay parking is usually available at on-site car parks near to the airport terminal, often a short walk away. This type of parking is often the most expensive and is really designed for short stays and passenger pick-up and drop-off. The minimum length of stay is 15 minutes with charging periods of 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and then hourly up to 24 hours, then per 24-hour period.
Be aware that there have been cases where passengers have accidentally parked in the short-stay car park only to find that, on their return, their parking charges were more than the cost of their flights.
Long-stay parking is available on-airport and off-airport at Gatwick. If you are parking for more than a few hours it’s advisable to use a long-stay car park. You should find that off-airport, long-stay parking is the cheapest option.
Meet and greet parking
Meet and greet parking, or valet parking as it is also known, is without doubt the most convenient type of airport parking available, if you choose the right company. Customers don’t need to park their own vehicle, they drive right up to the airport terminal and are met by a driver from their chosen parking company who takes their car and parks it at the company’s secure car park.
On the customer’s return, they are met outside the terminal building by a driver who has brought their car back to the airport. Usually the vehicle drop-off and collection points are the same – you should be given comprehensive instructions on where the meeting points are in your booking confirmation.
Gatwick meet and greet is particularly suitable for families travelling with young children, elderly travellers, disabled drivers and time-pressed business travellers.
Some hotels in the Gatwick area offer parking on their land or have tie-ups with local parking companies, so can offer park and stay packages. Most of the on-airport hotels offer park and stay packages. If you are looking to book an airport hotel before or after your flight check with the hotel to see what deals they offer on parking. Often you will make considerable savings when compared to booking separately.
Off-airport and meet and greet parking is usually offered as park and stay packages.
Things to watch out for
If you have a large vehicle, an attached trailer, or company van etc., make sure that your chosen parking company can accommodate your vehicle in their car park before booking. Also, if you are travelling with large sports equipment and your parking requires you to take a shuttle bus to the terminal, make sure the shuttle bus can accommodate your equipment – some parking companies don’t permit snowboards etc. on their buses. Always check prior to booking.
If you are booking meet and greet parking make sure the company has a landline as well as a mobile contact number and an address on their website. Don’t book with a company whose only way of payment is to accept cash on the day.
Check for reviews of meet and greet companies before booking – you could also check the Airport Valet Parking Association’s website (www.avpca.co.uk) for a list of established, reliable companies.
We all want to save money on our parking, after all holidays are expensive enough without the added extras of getting to the airport and parking! But, don’t forget, your car is one of your more valuable assets so you do need to make sure it’s in safe hands, so cost isn’t everything. If you think the price is too good to be true, particularly in the case of meet and greet, ask yourself if the company can really generate sufficient income to pay for their car park, staff, drivers, insurance etc.
One sure fire way to save money on airport parking is to book it in advance, online, preferably as soon as you have confirmed your travel details. This should secure the best possible price, as the nearer you get to departure the more expensive your parking is likely to be. Unless it cannot be helped, never just turn up on the day and pay gate prices – pre booking, even a couple of days before departure, can save you a significant amount on gate prices.