While there are alternatives to driving yourself to the airport, public transportation isn’t always available or pratical, and taxis can be very expensive and still can’t guarantee to get you there ontime. If you take your car to the airport, chances are you’re all too familiar with the nightmare of airport parking. Driving round and round looking for an empty spot, or even worse the dreaded “lot full” signs, can be terrifying when you have a plane to catch. And the increasingly difficult airport security measures already mean that you have to get to the airport long before your flight. Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid the stress and reduce the time it takes to park.
The closest option is the parking offered on the airport grounds. However, even the lower cost long-term parking can be very expensive, ranging from $10-30 per day. In a time crunch short-term parking is the absolute closest but is extremely expensive. And in both cases, you have to waste time driving around looking for an open spot, and you risk finding the lots completely full.
Private companies operate parking facilities near the airport. Although they are farther away, they typically offer frequent (and more comfortable) shuttle services, direct you to the nearest open space, and often pick you and your luggage up right by your car. Some of them even offer extra services like an oil change or car wash. Security is often better than onsite parking, and yet the cost is usually less than the on-airport economy rates. Even better, many of them will let you reserve a space in advance, so no worries about filled parking lots and a frantic search for a different location.
Many offsite parking services also offer a valet service so you don’t even need to take the time to park; simply hand an attendant your key and you’re whisked away in a shuttle. A very convenient, though pricier, option from some services allows you to drive your car to the terminal, where an attendant meets you and takes your car to an off-site parking facility, then brings your car back to the terminal when you return. This is definitely the fastest option since it means no shuttle is required.
Did you know that many airport hotels offer sleep-and-park packages? While you might think this would be too expensive, for trips of a week or more the cost can even be less than other airport parking options. It also gets you much closer to the airport, avoiding last-minute traffic headaches and giving you the flexibility of choosing a morning flight without needing to get up in the middle of the night.
Finding a good deal
So how do you navigate all of your airport parking choices? For the US and Canada, Airport Parking Reservations provides price comparisons, reviews and online reservations for airport parking, while ParkSleepFly.com lists hotel + parking deals for North American airports and cruise ports. In the UK, Travel Supermarket gives you detailed information about all of your parking options; you can compare prices and book directly online.
How do you handle airport parking? Do you have any special tips? Please let us know in the comments!
Image source: flickr (compujeramey)