The Worst Offenders for Airport Drop-Off Parking

    The recent price increases for drop off parking at Manchester airport have been well talked about lately, but what about the rest of the UK?

    Increased charges for drop off parking appear to have become a trend at many airports over the last year, much to the dismay of passengers. As the below infographic illustrates, airports are charging fees for as little as 5 minutes, with even higher costs for parking up to an hour.

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    So where in the UK are the worst offenders? And is there a way that you can avoid paying these hefty drop-off charges? Let’s find out. 

    The South

    Looking at the South East of England, Gatwick Airport will allow you to park for up to 10 minutes free of charge for drop-offs only (the same can’t be said for pick-ups), making it one of the obvious choices for most travellers. Pre-book Gatwick airport parking today.

    If you fly from Southampton Airport, you’ll be charged £2 for 15 minutes, or you can opt to park in their long stay car park, which is just a 5-minute journey to the terminal via their free shuttle bus. Here, you can park for free for up to 30 minutes. 

    When it comes to the South West, the airports that have the lowest charges for drop-offs are Bristol and Exeter. While Bristol Airport doesn’t have a free alternative, you can park for up to an hour which will cost you £6, or you can get up to 10 minutes for £1. In comparison, Exeter is a little more generous, as £1 will allow you to park for 30 minutes. In addition, you can also park free of charge in their Car Park 4, which has a free shuttle bus to the terminal. View our range of Bristol airport parking providers here.

    Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Bournemouth Airport, who charge an eye-watering £35 for a 30-minute stay, with no alternative options.

    The East

    When it comes to the East of England, the worst offender has to be Stansted Airport. Similar to Manchester, they charge £4 for up to 10 minutes, and if you exceed 15 minutes it’ll set you back £25. To avoid this, your best bet is to opt for the Official Stansted Mid Stay car park, which allows free parking for up to an hour. There’s also a free shuttle bus that’s just a 5-minute journey to the terminal — worth doing if it saves you a few quid for sure.

    Charging £3 for up to 10 minutes, it could appear initially that Luton Airport comes off slightly better. However, they charge £1 per minute afterwards. While it’s still cheaper than Stansted if you go over the 15-minute mark, you could end up going into scarier figures if you stay for too long.

    The North

    So, according to ITV News, Manchester Airport has been ranked as the most expensive for drop-off parking, charging £4 for up to 10 minutes, or £25 if you exceed this. However, you can avoid these charges if you park in their designated drop-off area which has a free shuttle bus to the terminal. 

    Liverpool airport parking comes off a little better, where £3 will get you up to 20 minutes. In addition, they also have a drop off car park which gives you up to 40 minutes of free parking. However it’s a 10-minute walk from the terminal, so may not be ideal if you have a large amount of luggage. 

    When it comes to parking at Newcastle Airport, a 10-minute stay will cost £2, or it’s £7 for up to an hour. Alternatively, park in their ‘Short Stay 2’ car park, which will allow up to 15 minutes free of charge. Even better, it’s just a 2-minute walk to the terminal. 

    The Midlands

    Birmingham Airport came in towards the higher end of the rankings, charging £3 for a 15-minute stay. For half an hour though, it’ll cost you a whopping £18. They do, however, have a designated drop-off car park which allows you to stay for up to 30 minutes free-of-charge. It’s a 5-to-10-minute walk from the terminal, which isn’t too bad, however if you’re laden with bags it may be a little more tricky. 

    East Midlands Airport had a fee in place of £2 for just a 5-minute stay, and £1 per minute afterwards. So a 10-minute stay could cost you £7 — bearing the question over whether Birmingham could be the better option in comparison. Thankfully, East Midlands Airport offer a free drop-off option, if you park in their Long Stay 1 car park. This will give you up to an hour for free, and you catch a bus to the terminal which takes only 5 minutes/

    Greater London

    Thankfully, airports based in the Greater London area, namely London City and Heathrow, offer free parking where you can stay for up to 10 minutes. Unfortunately, this is just for drop-offs and doesn’t include pick-ups, so perhaps something to bear in mind. 


    Both Glasgow and Aberdeen Airports had rather pricey costs for drop-off parking, with Glasgow charging £2 for up to 15 minutes, and Aberdeen charging £2 for 10 minutes. Just make sure you don’t overstay though, as an hour’s parking at Aberdeen will cost you £30, and at Glasgow, a hefty £45. For the sake of a few minutes shuttle bus journey, which is offered at both airports if you park further away, you can save yourself these fees however. For Aberdeen, parking in their long stay car park will be free for up to 15 minutes, and at Glasgow, you can stay for up to 30 minutes free. 

    Edinburgh in comparison is a fair bit cheaper for an hour’s stay, which costs £15. Still a little steep, but when compared with Glasgow and Aberdeen, it’s definitely the better choice. Just bear in mind though, that for just 5 minutes you’ll be expected to pay £2! Again, if you park a little further out, you can get up to 10 minutes free in their long stay car park, which has a free shuttle bus.

    When it comes to Scotland’s airports, there was a clear winner when it came to drop-off parking, and that was Inverness. They offer 10 minutes free of charge for both drop-offs and pick-ups. Definitely one to bear in mind!


    Belfast Airport fell in at the lower end of the scale with their fees, charging just £1 for a 10 minute stay. However, make sure you don’t exceed this, as over an hour will set you back £35. Their long stay car park however, allows 15 minutes of free parking, and it’s a 6 minute walk to the terminal, which definitely appears to be the better choice. 


    Similarly to Greater London, Cardiff Airport will allow you to park for up to 10 minutes free of charge for drop-offs, and in addition, this includes pick-ups too. 

    So, it appears there’s definitely a mixed bag when it comes to airports charging for drop off parking. We’ve all opted to be dropped off at the airport at some time or another for the sake of convenience, but it’s definitely clear that for the sake of enduring a few minutes’ walk, or a short bus journey, we can be sure to save a few quid. Think of it as going towards a pint or a glass of wine before you board the plane, or a little extra spending money for your holiday!

    It can also be worth looking into how much parking at your chosen airport will cost you too. Simply use our comparison tool and you’ll soon see that airport parking isn’t quite as expensive as you might think!