Safer Parking at UK Airports
Car parking at UK airports is extremely safe and the car parks go a long way to ensure all cars are secure, makes sense really, after all it is their livelyhood and if they don't get it right then nobody will park with them.
However, there have been a few unscrupulous operators out there, especially in the Meet & Greet sector who have simply taken peoples money and dumped their cars or even driven them whilst the owners were away. They all get caught eventually, but unfortunately that doesn't help the poor holidaymakers whos car has been used whilst away.
Some of the Horror Stories
Examples date back to 2007 and beyond but two of the more recent issues with airport parking have been with the lack of security. One customer came back to find their car parked in a field near Gatwick, window down and the vehicle unlocked. As they walked around the area, they found a box stuffed with the keys for all the other vehicles out in the open. They had paid £32 for what they thought was secure parking.
Another firm, the practices of which were uncovered by the BBC consumer programme ‘Rogue Traders’ found customer’s cars parked on residential streets, as well as in the car park of a community centre close to the airport. One customer told them that her car had an extra 1,500 miles on the clock on her return. Again, customers had been promised secure parking.
The horror stories continue, such as the story of one customer of a meet and greet airport parking company. His car, a Lexus, couldn’t be brought to the airport when he returned because it had a flat battery. It all seems a little mysterious as there had been no issue with the battery prior to his departure, nor since he had his vehicle back.
But the company, who took two days to sort the issue, handed the customer with a bill for £300 – for unauthorised parking and starting the car. The customer refused to pay, threatening to sue.
So, as you plan your summer holidays in the sun, or a quick getaway, there is one age-old problem that needs to be solved – how are you going to get to and from the airport? And where will you park the car knowing that it will be safe and secure
So, Pay More Money and Get a Better Service…?
Unfortunately, not. The price of airport parking can vary from sub £30 per week at some airports (Newcastle Airport charges less than £30) to £90 or even more at London airports. However, spending more on your car parking will not mean that your car is treated any better or is any safer.
One customer of a well known firm at a major UK airport went to collect her car and was given the keys to a brand new BMW. This was a surprise to the lady and her family because the car she owns was a Citroen C4. It took some time to persuade the attendant the keys were not hers and she wanted the keys to her car.
An embarrassment to the company, it could have been much worse. Although some people found this amusing, the driver of the BMW may be less than pleased.
Five Tips for Getting the Best Service
1. Before you start searching for airport parking, decide if you are happy to hand over your car keys. For many people, taking their car to the airport is the most convenient way of starting and ending their holiday. Decide if you want to park the car yourself or whether ‘meet and greet’ is your preferred option.
2. Read through the terms and conditions before booking. Like the customer who found he had a flat battery on his return, the company attempted to extract a large amount of money from him. If your flight is delayed, what period of grace do you get before extra costs start racking up? Some companies will also state that cars will be moved from one location to another whilst you are away – are you happy for this to happen?
3. Don’t rely on the glossy photos! Marketing brochures are created for one reason – to sell their services to you. Find out key details such as security, CCTV and where your car will actually be parked.
4. Get two quotes minimum for comparison purposes. Websites prices are also created to lure you in but you may find that dig a little deeper, and the prices starts to shoot up. Some companies offer extra, such as a wash and wax or full valet. Decide if this is essential or not as it can really add to an already expensive price.
5. Search for reviews on the company, looking at both the positives and the negatives that people have fed back on the company. With negative comments, how did the company respond?
Meet & Greet Airport Parking Tips
With the excitement of your break, you can be forgiven for throwing your keys at the meet and greet driver and dance your way to the check-in desk but it pays to be a little savvier.
When you have booked your car in for parking with a meet and greet service, you need to be confident that they can provide the service that you are paying for:
1. Expect a uniform or some kind of identification – a company representative should make themselves known to you with most personnel being in uniform. They should also show you their ID badge and have a copy of all the paperwork related to your booking.
2. Do they have a designated location? – And this doesn’t mean meeting you on the pavement outside the terminal in the rain. They may have a desk or a pop up section in the terminal building.
3. Check again where your car will be stored – will it be outside or in an undercover facility? Will it be moved?
4. Does the storage facility have the ‘Park Mark’ Award?
What is the ‘Park Mark’ Award?
In response to the horror stories and fear of crime in car parks, reputable companies and organisations within the parking industry, along with the Police, have created the Park Mark award.
This is a standard mark that shows a car park meets minimum standards of security, both for vehicles and for use by members of the public. It doesn’t just relate to airport parking but to car parks at shopping centres and so on.
There are stringent requirements that car parks need to meet and maintain in order to gain the award such as:
Exit and entry barriers
In some instances, having all of these may be difficult in a certain location thus; they need to have clear signs to aid drivers and pedestrians to use their car park safely.
If you are planning on using an airport car parking service, whether that is parking your car yourself or using a meet and greet option, asking if the facility they use has the Park Mark Award is one way of assessing how secure your stored vehicle will be.
Does Having the Park Mark Award Make Parking More Expensive?
The Park Mark award does not make the cost of airport parking more expensive. It's a mark that shows the security and services on offer from the car park to its paying customers are being taken seriously.
Comparing Airport Car Parks
UK Airport Car Parks use car parking facilities that are safe and secure, which has been demonstrated time and time again. The majority of the parking facilities we use also have the Park Mark awarded, in fact approximately 94% of the car parks we show have the award.
On our website we use the top 5 providers of airport parking in the UK. These companies consolidate the car parks and we receive data feeds with their latest products. These companies have vetted each and every airport car park themselves to ensure all their products are reputable.
Always research thoroughly, find a good website which will display all the relevant information you need on each car park or Meet & Greet service. You need to clearly see if the car park has the Park Mark award, you need to see what securtiy features the car park has, such as good lighting as well as being able to read previous customer reviews.
You can find out a bit more about airport parking security on our other page, click here. We've also done a blog post about the Park Mark award and exactly what it means, click here to view the post.
Or view this post about the possible dangers of leaving your car parked at home whilst on holiday and the consequences for your car insurance if you use social media on holiday!