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Warning over ‘sky-high’ airport drop-off charges

The five most expensive airports in the UK for drop-off parking charges have been named as new research reveals the “sky-high” charges levied by some for parking close to the terminal.

Airport parking sign

The RAC research finds some airports charge six times more per minute for drop-off parking than it costs to make a mobile phone call back home while abroad

The RAC is publishing the analysis of airport parking charges as it warns drivers that some airports charge six times more per minute to park than it costs to make a mobile phone call back home while abroad.

The majority of airports charge for drop-off parking, although six of the UK’s 20 busiest airports still offer some free parking provision.

Luton Airport is named as the most expensive for drop-offs – the minimum charge is £7 for up to 40 minutes. If you’re happy staying in your car, you can opt for another car park but it is still the most expensive per minute, with a charge of £3 for ten minutes, and £1 a minute after that.

Luton is followed by Birmingham, where it costs £4.70 to park up for up to 60 minutes, with no option to park more cheaply for a shorter period.

In third place is Stansted Airport where parking at the terminal costs £4.50 for 30 minutes while Edinburgh Airport charges £3.90 for 15 minutes, equivalent to £0.26 per minute, more than the price of a mobile phone call from Europe back to the UK. London Heathrow charges £3.60 for 30 minutes’ parking.

The charges for overstaying the minimum time period in airport drop-off zones have also been revealed. At London Stansted, drivers receive a £50 penalty if they stay any longer than 10 minutes, while both London Luton and East Midlands charge £1 a minute after waiting 10 minutes.

While some airports offer lower cost options for drop-off and pick-up parking, these generally mean pre-booking or leaving a car a lot further from the terminal building. In the case of Edinburgh Airport for instance, the drop-off/pick-up zone is free for the first 10 minutes but requires the driver to take a shuttle bus to the terminal, meaning they are certain to have to end up paying to park – £3.50 for up to 30 minutes and £5.90 for up to an hour.

RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “While it is true that many airports provide a range of different parking options for drivers depending on how long they expect to stay, motorists need to be aware of the sky-high charges levied by some for parking close to the terminal.

“The high parking fees at some London airports could perhaps be explained by the fact passengers have more opportunities for getting there by public transport. But for those travelling with a lot of luggage – or when public transport fails or just is not practical – taking the car might be the only feasible option, so drivers need to be careful.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.