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Drop-off and pick-up charges at UK airports continue to soar

Press Release   •   Oct 21, 2017 00:01 BST

  • Nearly half of the UK’s busiest airports have hiked the price for those picking-up passengers
  • A quarter of airports have increased drop-off prices in 2017

Already sky-high costs for drop-off and pick-up parking at many of the UK’s top airports have risen leaving drivers suspecting that they are an easy target for operators, new data1 from the RAC reveals.

Nearly half of the UK’s 20 busiest airports have hiked the price for those picking up passengers and a quarter have increased their drop-off prices in 2017. And with six million people expected to fly away during October, the price increase will frustrate anyone dropping off friends and family for a half-term holiday.

Drop-offs
Drop-off fees have increased this year at a quarter of the UK’s busiest 20 airports. The research compared the drop-off prices for the closest set-down access by the departures building.

Last year, the RAC’s data showed London Stansted Airport as having the joint highest drop-off fee at £3 for just 10 minutes alongside London Luton Airport. However, this year Stansted has increased its charge with 10 minutes now costing drivers £3.50, making it the UK’s costliest airport for dropping off outside the terminal building.

Meanwhile, Liverpool John Lennon Airport is asking £3 for 20 minutes at its express drop-off, though a secondary drop-off area which is a five to 10-minute walk from the terminal is free for 40 minutes. Glasgow International Airport has also now done away with free drop-offs, with the airport demanding £2 for 10 minutes. Birmingham Airport operates a premium set-down facility which charges £2 for 10 minutes, however this has been partially offset by new free drop-off facilities slightly further away from the terminal entrance.

If you can keep your farewells to a minimum Edinburgh appears to offer good value at £1 for five minutes.
Seven airports deserve mention for maintaining free drop-off parking by their departure terminals making them a less contentious destination for motorists and their departing passengers. They are: Heathrow; Gatwick; London City; Cardiff, Manchester; Belfast City; and Jersey.

Pick-ups
Parking your car in the airport’s recommended short stay car park near the arrivals terminal to greet someone is becoming more expensive at many major airports. The RAC research found that almost half (8) of the top 20 airports have put up the initial price of pick-up parking this year with price rises on initial tariffs of between 20p and £1.

London Luton Airport still has the highest initial fee at a staggering £7 for 40 minutes although this is unchanged on last year’s price. Next up is London Stansted Airport which now demands an eye-watering £5 for 30 minutes (up 50p on last year), followed by Birmingham Airport charging £4.90 for one hour (up 20p on 2016) and Manchester with a hefty £4 fee for 30 minutes (up 50p).

Visitors to London’s City Airport get just 10 minutes to meet their passengers for the minimum stay fee of £3.50 (up 50p on 2016), however it will cost them £7.50 to park for 30 minutes. At Edinburgh drivers have 15 minutes’ stay time for the minimum fee of £3.90, but 30 minutes will cost them a whopping £6.30 and at Glasgow they will pay £2 for a 10-minute minimum stay, £3 for 20 minutes or £6 for an hour.

Other major airports to follow suit and increase their pick-up parking tariffs in 2017 are London Heathrow which now charges £3.80 for 30 minutes (an extra 20p) and London Gatwick which demands £3.80 for 30 minutes (up 30p).

Just Leeds Bradford Airport and Liverpool John Lennon Airport stand out as offering free pick-up parking (one hour at Bradford and 40 minutes at Liverpool). Belfast City airport does offer 10 minutes’ free parking but you will have to be confident that you can collect your passengers quickly. A more realistic 30 minutes will cost £3.

Regrettably, Cardiff Airport and Southampton Airport have recently abandoned free pick-up parking for 20 minutes and 10 minutes respectively, introducing a £1 charge for 10 minutes parking at both. Cardiff charges £2 for 20 minutes and £3 for an hour if you need longer and Southampton charges £4 for 30 minutes.

Two other airports have maintained their initial charges for the shortest parking term but increased their rates for slightly longer periods. These are Edinburgh, which has kept its rate for 15 minutes at £3.90 but increased its price for 30 minutes from £5.30 in 2016 to £6.30 this year, and Aberdeen which has maintained its £2 charge for 20 minutes but scrapped its £3.60 rate for 40 minutes and increased its 2016 rate for an hour by 10p to £5.80.

RAC spokesperson Pete Williams said: “The eye-watering drop-off and pick-up costs at some airports is likely to be viewed by drivers as another way of making money out of them, particularly in instances where public transport to and from the airport simply isn’t a viable option.

“This year many airports have increased the already sky-high prices they charge for short-stay parking near their departure and arrival terminals making a good deed a costly experience.

“Drop-off charges are the biggest bone of contention as for many they appear severe when they are simply pulling up for less than five minutes and often don’t even get out of the car themselves. For that reason we applaud the seven of the top 20 airports for maintaining their free drop-off zones.

“As millions are planning to fly away this half-term we strongly advise anyone planning on driving their family and friends to, or collecting them from, the airport to find out the drop-off and pick-up charges before they travel or be prepared for an unpleasant shock.

“For travellers using a taxi to get to and from the airport, be aware some taxi firms may add the cost of the pick-up and drop-off parking fee to your fare. Always check when you book.”

RAC top five tips to avoid stress and high airport parking charges:

1
Do your research
Do your research – check out the airport’s website parking pages to understand fees, payment options and stay times. Some airports may even offer lower online rates.
2
Have your payment ready
Once you have checked how to pay, ensure you have payment ready to hand whether that is adequate change, a debit or credit card or pre-programme the phone payment number into your mobile.
3
Identify a nearby ‘holding location’
It is worth checking out nearby free parking places in case your friends or relatives’ flight is delayed so you can wait for the plane to land before proceeding to the terminal. If picking up, make sure you keep abreast of the flight’s landing time.
4
Keep in touch
Ask your friends or relatives to call you once they have collected their luggage and cleared passport control so you can park at the optimum moment. But remember if you are driving – it must be hands-free.
5
Say your goodbyes before travel
Say your farewells with your passengers before you get to the airport to keep goodbyes to a minimum.


The top most expensive airports for dropping-off friends or relatives in 2017 based on recommended set-down parking:

2017 2016
Airport initial rate Per minute rate Initial rate Per minute rate Change
1 London Stansted £3.50 for 10 minutes 35p per minute £3 for 10 minutes 30p per minute +50p
2 London Luton £3 for 10 minutes 30p per minute £3 for 10 minutes 30p per minute No change
3 Liverpool John Lennon £3 for 20 minutes 15p per minute £2 for 20 minutes 10p per minute +£1
4 Leeds Bradford £3 for 30 minutes 10 per minute £3 for 30 minutes 10 per minute No change
5 Birmingham £2 for 10 minutes 20p per minute £1 for 10 minutes 10p per minute +£1
Glasgow International £2 for 10 minutes 20p per minute Free Free +£2
East Midlands £2 for 10 minutes 20per minute £2 for 10 minutes 20 per minute No change
8 Aberdeen £2 for 15 minutes 13p per minute £2 for 15 minutes 13p per minute No change
9 Edinburgh £1 for five minutes 20p per minute £1 for five minutes 20p per minute No change
10 Belfast International £1 for 10 minutes 10 per minute £1 for 10 minutes 10 per minute No change
Bristol £1 for 10 minutes 10 per minute £1 for 10 minutes 10 per minute No change
Newcastle £1 for 10 minutes 10 per minute £1 for 10 minutes 10 per minute No change
13 Southampton £1 for 10 minutes 10per minute Free Free +£1
14 London Gatwick Free Free Free Free No change
London Heathrow Free Free Free Free No change
Manchester Free Free Free Free No change
Belfast City Free Free Free Free No change
Cardiff Free Free Free Free No change
London City Free Free Free Free No change
Jersey Free Free Free Free No change

The top most expensive airports for picking-up friends or relatives in 2017 based on minimum stay charge*:


2017
2016


Airport
Initial rate
Per minute rate
Initial rate
Per minute rate
Change:
1
London Luton
£7 for 40 minutes
17.5p per minute
£7 for 40 minutes
17.5p per minute
No change
2
London Stansted
£5 for 30 minutes
17p per minute
£4.50 for 30 minutes
15p per minute
+50p
3
Birmingham
£4.90 for 60 minutes
8p per minute
£4.70 for 60 minutes
8p per minute
+20p
4
Manchester
£4 for 30 minutes
13p per minute
£4 for 30 minutes
13p per minute
No change
5
Edinburgh
£3.90 for 15 minutes
26p per minute
£3.90 for 15 minutes
26p per minute
No change
6
London Gatwick
£3.80 for 30 minutes
13p per minutes
£3.50 for 30 minutes
12p per minute
+30p

London Heathrow
£3.80 for 30 minutes
13p per minute
£3.60 for 30 minutes
12p per minute
+20p
8
East Midlands
£3.50 for 30 minutes
12p per minute
£3 for 30 minutes
10p per minute
+50p
9
London City
£3 for 10 minutes
35p per minute
£2.50 for 10 minutes
25p per minute
+50p
10
Glasgow
£2 for 10 minutes
20 per minute
£2 for 10 minutes
20p per minute
No change
11
Aberdeen
£2 for 20 minutes
10p per minute
£2 for 20 minutes
10p per minute
No change
12
Belfast International
£1 for 10 minutes
10p per minute
£2 for 15 minutes
7.5p per minute
-£1 Band change
13
Newcastle
£1 for 10 minutes
10p per minute
£1 for 10 minutes
10p per minute
No change

Cardiff
£1 for 10 minutes
10p per minute
Free for 20 minutes
Free
+£1

Southampton
£1 for 10 minutes
10p per minute
Free for 10 minutes
Free
+£1
16
Bristol
£1 for 20 minutes
5p per minute
£1 for 20 minutes
5p per minute
No change
17
Jersey
70p for 30 minutes
2.3p per minute
70p per 30 minutes
2.3p per minute
No change
18
Belfast City
Free for 10 minutes
Free
Free for 10 minutes
Free
No change
19
Liverpool John Lennon
Free for 40 minutes
Free
Free for 20 minutes
Free
+20 free minutes
20
Leeds Bradford
Free for one hour
Free
Free for one hour
Free
No change


Ends


If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:
RAC press office: 01454 664 123 / press.enquiries@rac.co.uk

* All pick-up fees are ranked based on initial minimum stay costs. Thereafter costs (e.g. for up to 2 hours) may rank on the list differently and may also have increased instead of the initial rate.

1

Research of charges at airport car parks that permit a driver to leave their car and go to an airport terminal, quoted on official websites of the UK’s 20 busiest airports sourced from

https://www.caa.co.uk/uploadedFiles/CAA/Content/Standard_Content/Data_and_analysis/Datasets/Airport_stats/Airport_data_2016_annual/Table_09_Terminal_and_Transit_Passengers.pdf

correct as at 18/10/2017.

Notes to Editors

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