Getting to the airport is obviously a key part of any holiday or business trip, and more and more people these days prefer the independence and security of using their own car to make the airport journey. Here, Jimi St. Pierre outlines some money-saving and time-saving ideas
The major potential drawback is of course, the spiralling costs of airport parking, which is a special concern at the UK’s major airports. Here, the expansion of recent years has put a premium on all space and airport parking costs have reflected this. With vastly more people passing through the UK’s airport system, the rules of supply and demand continue to hold sway.
At Gatwick Airport, this is certainly the case. Gatwick is the UK’s second busiest airport after Heathrow, and the 6th busiest in terms of passenger traffic. The airport has its own, on-airport parking facilities at both its terminals. The costs of parking at these without advance booking can be prohibitive, and so it has become increasingly important to make advance bookings to ensure more reasonable costs. To service this market, in recent years, a huge proliferation of online booking websites has emerged to cater for this demand.
However, the parking problem, especially in peak season, is not solvable via on-airport car parks alone. The growth of low cost budget airlines and the consequent growth in demand for short breaks as well as main family holidays have conspired to produce a growth of off-airport car parks, and a maturing industry in this area, with its own associations, regulatory practices and security standards. Gatwick is no exception, with several massive off-airport car parking operations now in place, including the BCP / Q-Park airport parking facility which is adjacent to Gatwick’s runway and located about 7-10 minutes by courtesy bus from the airport terminals.
Thus all air travellers are now offered a wide choice of options – from turn-up-and-pay on-airport parking for total, but costly, flexibility, to online bookings for on-airport or off-airport car parks at much reduced prices, in some cases over 50% of “gate” prices, with no loss of flexibility if plans change.
Reduced prices are not the only advantage. A real time saver is to use the car’s “idle time” whilst the owner is away, is to have the car valeted. At Gatwick, for example, BCP/Q-Park offer a choice of services from washing and internal cleaning, to a full Silver Seal car protection service with a 5-year warranty. Having this done whilst the car is idle makes total practical sense.
Another time-saver, and convenient for those with lots of luggage (for example skis and golf clubs), is to use Meet and Greet facilities. Meet and Greet parking is also known as “Valet Parking” or “Chauffeured Parking” , but whatever name applies, this is a real treat for those who prefer to be looked after in style on arrival. At Gatwick for example, uniformed driver will meet clients and their car at the airport terminal on arrival and departure. The driver then helps with luggage and trolleys, before driving the car to a secure, pre-booked, reduced-price off-airport compound – easy and convenient, and a less pressured start to any trip. For the business traveller meeting deadlines and budgets, a reliable time-saving meet and greet service at the right price is crucially important. And for the holidaymaker looking for an extra touch of class, meet and greet Valet Parking is the way to go.
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