Cheap airport parking at Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Bristol, Stansted and more

Updated on 02 April 2019

Depending on where you fly from, airport parking and even drop-offs could cost you four times as much. Here are some ways to cut your costs.

Airport parking rip-off

The days of dropping your loved ones off at the airport could be coming to an end.

Just a third of British and European airports now offer free drop-off by the terminal, according to insurer Admiral.

For the remainder, drop-off prices have gone up and you'll now have to pay £4 for a 10-minute drop-off at Stansted or Machester Airports, the two worst offenders.

Long-term parking is also getting pricier.

Admiral compared 30 airports across the country, looking specifically at pre-booked parking for a two-week break starting in the summer holidays beginning on Saturday 21 July and ending on Saturday 4 August.

Luton Airport proved to be the most expensive, for the second year running, where a two-week stay at a standard on-site car park is £255. That's a big increase on last year, when parking costs £191, and far higher than the cheapest airport, Belfast, which costs just £63.

As the average car parking rate for two weeks is £115, keeping your car at Luton will cost £140 more.

The second most expensive airport was London Gatwick's South Terminal at £175, followed by London City at £163.

You’ll even pay more for parking at different terminals within the same airport. A stay at Gatwick South costs £175 compared to £123 at Gatwick South. Parking at Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3 and 4 is £157, but Terminal 4 is significantly cheaper at £129.

Pick a cheaper airport

The top 10 most expensive places to park will definitely put a dent in the budget for your next holiday:





London Gatwick – South


London City


London Heathrow – T3


London Heathrow – T2




London Heathrow – T5








London Heathrow T4


 So, try the cheapest places instead:



Belfast International






Glasgow Prestwick






East Midlands


Belfast City








However, if you're restricted to a certain airport, use these handy tips to trim the cost of parking. 

The best time to book a holiday: get your flights, hotels, cruises and more for the lowest price

Book early

It’s the same with pretty much anything: booking earlier will save you more in the long run.

It doesn’t have to be months in advance, either. Depending on which airport you go to, you only need to book 24 or 48 hours in advance before price hikes kick in. 

Avoid paying on the day, as it could cost you hundreds of pounds more.

Places such as look4Parking,, and will show you the best rates on nearby car parks along with park-and-ride services.

Sign up to the right mailing lists

You can save even more if you’re savvy about mailing lists.

For example, BCP will send you discount e-coupons by email if you register for offers. Holiday Extras will also send over parking discounts.

Some roadside assistance companies or employers offer a discount on airport parking, so have a comb through that employee handbook.

Fancy saving some cash on your train station parking? Find out how at How to cut the cost of train station parking.

If you're without your car for a couple of weeks, make sure it's properly covered. 

How to get cheap and free flights

Think about which service you use

Have a look at the prices of all the airport’s car parking facilities before you decide on one.

London Gatwick, Heathrow and City Airports allow free drop off outside the terminal, as does Cardiff Airport.

However, if you’re dropping someone off, it may in some cases be cheaper to use the car parks.

An airport drop off sign in Aalborg, Denmark (image: Shutterstock)

Stansted's Mid-Term Car Park gives you get an hour's free parking, giving you enough time to help someone check in and get to security, using the free 10-minute shuttle bus. Luton's Long Term Car Park has the same offer.

Alternately, Luton's Mid-Term Car Park, which is slightly closer to the terminal, gives you a free 15-minute drop off. 

Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and Southampton also have free options for those who can manage a walk or short shuttle bus journey. It's always worth checking the airport's website before travelling.

In the same vein, premium parking services can sometimes be better value.

Admiral found that at East Midlands Airport, the meet-and-greet premium price was over £40 cheaper than standard long stay parking and it's only around five minutes’ walk from the airport. In Birmingham, premium parking costs just £1 extra. 

Certain airport hotels offer room and parking packages which include parking for the length of your trip. This may very well be worth doing if you have a very early flight.

9 sneaky rip-offs to avoid at the car rental desk

Getting picked up

Unfortunately, free parking spots for picking up passengers are even rarer than free-drop off zones.

Where it is possible to get picked up outside the terminal, waiting is generally not permitted.

You'll want to arrange a rough time with your driver then give them a call when you've got through customs, so they can pick you straight up.

Alternately, your driver could use the free parking options offered by the long and mid-stay car parks and you can meet them there.

Get money back for booking your holiday - and even your parking - on a cashback credit card


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