Heathrow Airport “finally succumbed” to the temptation of adding a £5 drop-off charge late last year for passengers who arrive at the airport by car and new research by the RAC has revealed that two-thirds of the UK’s 21 busiest airports have put prices up in the last year.
The controversial drop-off fee was originally introduced to encourage more passengers to use public transport options to get the airport, and Heathrow says the charge will help it hit its long-term sustainability goals.
Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, however, says it looks like airports have either introduced or raised drop-off fees to “partially make up for two years of lost revenue” during the pandemic.
“Anyone dropping a loved one off at the terminal this summer will be stunned by some of these sky-high ‘kiss and drop’ charges,” Lyes commented. “Minute for minute and pound for pound, some of these charges could almost be as high as the airfare itself.”
“Doing your research on the fees charged before heading to drop off at an airport has to be the best advice,” Lyes continued.
And at Heathrow that research will throw up a simple trick to drive (almost) to the airport and completely avoid the drop-off charge.
Heathrow says it charges a £5 flat fee per visit to one of its four terminal drop-off zones, but there is an alternative. When Heathrow introduced the drop-off fee, it also opened up its long-stay car parks for 30 minutes of free parking per day.
The airport then operates a free shuttle bus from the long-stay car park to the airport door. Unfortunately, this service isn’t technically available to taxis and private hire vehicles like Uber so you’ll likely have to swallow the £5 drop-off fee within your fare.
Gatwick Airport also offers a similar service from its long-stay car park but with up to two hours of free parking and a free shuttle bus.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.