Research from the RAC shows that over four in five of the UK’s busiest airports have upped their prices for short-term pick ups and drop offs since last year.
The study, which concentrates on the 22 busiest airports, chosen by the RAC for carrying more than 1 million passengers every year, has left drivers “often left wincing at the prices“.
The RAC looked at the changes to initial drop-off fees – often referred to as ‘kiss and fly charges’, which are typically levied for dropping passengers off either outside of or as close to the front of the terminal as possible.
Eight of the 22 airports raised these, while eight put up the cost of their initial periods of pick-up parking, and as many as 16 increased the charges for subsequent periods of pick-up parking. Overall 18 (82%) have put up, or introduced, fees in some way.
London Stansted tops the drop-off charges’ league table with an eye watering £4 for 10 minutes. London Luton is doing its best to win that crown having raised its initial fee to £4, but gives an extra three minutes, 13 minutes in total, to drop-off.
Six airports included in the study require initial fees of £3, but the time drivers received for dropping off varied from Manchesters five minutes, to Leeds Bradfords 30 minutes. Other airports sitting at £3 include: East Midlands, Birmingham, Doncaster-Sheffield and Liverpool John Lennon.
Six airports currently provide free drop-off facilities. These include London’s Heathrow, Gatwick and City airports. Jersey, Cardiff and Belfast also offer free drop-offs.
The RAC’s study also compared pick-up parking prices to last year. Airports generally recommend drivers use the short-stay car parks for picking up passengers so that they can greet passengers at the arrivals’ gate.
Of the eight airports that have raised their initial pick-up parking charges this year, it’s notable that London Stansted has increased its prices the most with a £2.50 rise to £8 for 30 minutes. The rise makes Stansted the joint most expensive airport with London Luton for this type of parking.
RAC spokesperson Simon Williams said: “While flying off on holiday is one of the most exciting times of the year, those dropping off or collecting friends or family are often left wincing at the prices charged by the UK’s busiest airports for the privilege.
“Many airports charge drivers to drop off and pick up to keep the terminal entrances clear of traffic and to discourage long stays in car parks. Some might also see this as a way to encourage other forms of transport to the airport, but nevertheless these fees are still unwelcome, especially when you consider how little time most people actually spend at the airport.
“In reality, many travellers simply either do not have easy public transport access to get to the airport and even if they do, they can’t always depend on it getting them to the airport in good time.
“Many drivers dropping off their friends or family will naturally only spend a minute or two doing so which makes the experience all the more painful, especially if this is at London Stansted which charges the highest drop-off fee in the country at £4 for 10 minutes.
“And, if you’re on airport pick-up duty at Luton or Stansted it’s far better to know the fee for 30-minutes in advance as otherwise it has the potential to cause severe shock at a whopping £8.
“Doing your research on the fees charged before heading to drop off or pick up at an airport has to be the best advice. Some airports offer cheaper parking rates in mid-term or long-stay car parks though these tend to be further away from the terminal and might require an airport bus connection. The smart option for anyone collecting is to make sure your friends or family have landed before heading into the airport to avoid the clock beginning to tick and the price starting to mount up. And, a phone call from the travellers to let you know they have collected their baggage is a good idea as long as you have hands-free phone equipment in the car.”