5 ways to dodge cripplingly-expensive airport prices

Spending hours at an airport waiting for your flight can not only be tedious, it can be cripplingly expensive.

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So here are 5 ways to help you combat high costs at the airport this summer…

1. Weigh up your options for getting to the airport

The best bet for getting to the airport is to twist the arm of a generous friend or family member into dropping you off.

You’ll still have to watch out for fees, though – Luton Airport for example, charges £2.50 for 10 minutes if you pull up outside the terminal. And if you stay over 30 minutes you'll be charged £1 a minute.

If nobody you know wants to get up at the crack of dawn just so you can head off somewhere hot, public transport might be a better option.

National Express operates coaches to most UK airports, with prices from as little as £5 per person one way. And one-way fares on easyJet coaches start from £2 depending on the time you travel.

Train services that take you directly to the airport, such as the Heathrow and Gatwick Express, are a lot more convenient – but convenience often comes at a price. 

That said, if you're travelling as a group, the Gatwick Express offers a GroupSave discount which helps to bring the price down.

For example, a family of four travelling under a group booking from Victoria to Gatwick on July 11 would pay £43.95 on the Gatwick Express (at the time of writing). Without the GroupSave discount, the price rises to £53.30. 

But it's still cheaper to travel by a standard Southern Train service, with fares for a family of four starting from £28.

Obviously the exact price you pay will depend on the time you’re travelling – but the earlier you book, the less you are likely to pay.

2. Book your airport parking space well in advance

If travelling by car is your best option, book your parking space well in advance to avoid paying premium prices on the day.

For example, if you were flying from Manchester Airport on July 28 and booked your parking spot now at off-site car park Jet Parks, you could pay as little as £39.99 for eight days. That compares to £112 if you turned up on the day and parked at one of the airport’s long-stay car parks, meaning you could save yourself £72.

At Heathrow, the savings are even greater. You’d fork out £199.90 on the day for an eight-day stay at the end of July (departure from Terminal 5). But if you booked ahead on the Heathrow website, you'd pay £102.50 – a huge saving of £97.40.

Always shop around for your travel money online rather than buying it at the airport

3. Don’t buy your travel money at the airport

Always shop around for your travel money online rather than buying it at the airport where you’ll pay inflated exchange rates and commissions. 

Even if you forget to organise your travel money in advance, pre-ordering it for collection at the airport will still save you money. For example, Travelex allows you to pre-order your money just four hours before picking it up at the airport desk. Read more about the best ways to get your holiday money here.

4. Need food and drink? Plan ahead

Food and drink is notoriously overpriced at airports. So it’s worth taking supplies with you, especially if you're travelling as a family.

You could also consider paying to use an airport lounge. Many now admit children and include food and drink in the price. A family of four using the ‘My Lounge’ at Gatwick’s North Terminal would pay around £60 and this, combined with the peace and quiet, could be worth every penny.

5. Check in online

Travelling with a low-cost airline? Be sure to check in online and print out your boarding card in advance. If you forget, you could be charged £60 per person with Ryanair (that’s a £45 check-in fee plus a £15 boarding pass fee). And if there’s four of you, that’s £240 down the drain before you’ve even started.

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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