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Airport travel hacks: how to reduce your summer holiday costs

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·4 min read
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Don't forget to look at your options when it comes to travelling to the airport this summer. Photo: Getty
Don't forget to look at your options when it comes to travelling to the airport this summer. Photo: Getty

Travelling to and from the airport is one of the additional holiday costs that can be overlooked. But it pays to do your research before automatically jumping in the car and driving to the terminal.

Here are our top airport travel hacks.

Airport parking

It might seem like the easiest option but airport car parking is now more expensive than before the pandemic. The average price to park at a UK airport for a week is £57.99 if you book online in advance, according to the latest figures from Avanti travel insurance.

Generally it is much cheaper to pre-book in advance rather than pay on the day when you could end up paying twice as much. On average, the highest on-day price is £121.05.

Read more: What the passport backlog means for you and your family and how to beat the system

But there are some big variations across airports. At Aberdeen, for example, you can save a mammoth £246.21 by booking in advance. Meanwhile London airports are £18 more expensive than regional airports for a week’s parking so it might be worth considering where you are flying from.

If you do pre-book online then try to choose a non flexible deal if you can because these are usually cheaper, says consumer expert Lady Janey.

"Sign up to mailing lists to get cheaper parking and check for discount codes on sites such as voucher codes for your chosen airport," she adds.

Using third party and price comparison websites can also be a good way to find the best deal. For example SkyParkSecure offer up to 25% off and has a range of exclusive discounts. Just make sure you read the customer reviews before choosing a deal because paying less may mean more hanging around.

Drop off or car share

If you can ask a friend or relative to drive you to the airport and cover the cost of their fuel then this may be the cheapest option. But remember in some airports you still have to pay a drop off fee. Airports that do not charge for drop offs are London City Airport, Cardiff, Guernsey, Inverness, Isle of Man, Jersey and Newquay.

If you are being dropped off then consider using long stay car parks. Heathrow Airport for example offers two hours free parking and a free shuttle bus to the terminals.

Read more: Money: 5 things everyone should do today to protect their loved ones

Another option is to car share by finding people travelling at the same time as you. App In The Air is a travel assistant which can track flight delays, gate changes, and security wait lines.

But it also has a "nearby" function which allows users to connect with other travellers from the app’s community and find people who are on the same flight or at the same airport. This allows them to find nearby users making similar journeys and to share taxis or lifts.

Car hire

Zipcar has recently landed at Heathrow Terminal 5 so consumers can now take a Zipcar Flex to and from the terminal. Zipcar offers short term rental and you find the nearest vehicle to you via the app and then park at their designated spot at the airport. There is still a £7.50 airport fee and a short bus ride but the cost could be lower than standard parking or an Uber.

Rates start from £9 an hour for a small car and flex prices from 35p a minute. There is also a £10 joining fee.

London. UK. 4.10.2022. Zipcar ride hire car.
Zipcar offers short term rental and you find the nearest vehicle to you via the app and then park at their designated spot at the airport. Photo: Getty

Train travel

If you plan to travel by train then book in advance to get the best deals and also look at splitting your ticket.

Trainline have a feature called SplitSave which finds customers clever combinations of tickets to save them money on thousands of routes across the UK, by splitting their trip into multiple tickets, without the need to change trains. This can save customer around 40% of the normal ticket fee.

Read more: Everything you need to know about travel compensation schemes

Once you know what tickets to buy, purchase them directly from the operator so you don't get charged a booking fee.

Coach travel

If you don't mind taking your time in getting to the airport then a coach can offer the best value for money. FlixBus offers affordable options to Heathrow from a number of locations across England and Wales, starting from £4.99 a ticket.

National Express tickets are often a quarter of the train fare price but the disadvantage is they can take twice as long because they usually stop at multiple locations. A two hour car journey could easily become a five hour coach trip.

Watch: Airline refunds: What are your rights as a consumer?