Summer airport drop-off fees soar: prepare for higher charges at UK airports, warns RAC

Travelling guy pulls suitcase, resturns from airport, approaches car, wears medical mask

Ahead of the summer holidays, drivers taking relatives and friends to the airport should be prepared for hefty terminal drop-off prices, with several of the UK’s 21 busiest airports raising fees, new RAC research reveals.

Southampton Airport saw the biggest increase in drop-off fees, going from £6 for 20 minutes (was £4 for 20 minutes in 2022), followed by Belfast International, which put the charge up by £2 to £3 for 10 minutes.

Motorists going to Glasgow airport will have to pay £5 for 15 minutes (up from £4 for 15 minutes in 2022) while at Aberdeen the initial rate also sits at £5 for 15 minutes (up from £4 for 10 minutes in 2022).

Leeds Bradford has upped its charges to £6 for 10 minutes (from £5 for 10 minutes), Liverpool John Lennon is now £5 for 10 minutes (up from £4 for 10 minutes), while Birmingham has increased its fee to £4 for 15 minutes (from £3 for 15 minutes). 

Belfast City, its other airport, has introduced a charge of £3 for 10 minutes, having previously not charged drivers for dropping off.

Even though it didn’t increase its fee this year, London Stansted remains in first place for drop-off charges, with an initial charge of £7 for 15 minutes.

Fortunately, six of the busiest UK airports are among the 13 airports that have frozen drop-off charges since last summer.

Other airports that are holding their prices are London Heathrow and London Gatwick, which charge £5, Manchester charges £5 for five minutes, London Luton, which continues to ask for £5 for 10 minutes and Edinburgh, which costs £4 for 10 minutes.

Inverness, Cardiff, and London City airports all have a free option at the terminal forecourt, which is encouraging. There are also three other airports where family and friends can be dropped off without paying.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Having tracked airport drop-off fees since 2016, we can see putting up charges has now become something of an annual ritual. This year is no different with seven out of 21 increasing their fees and one introducing them for the first time. Drivers should brace themselves for jaw-dropping prices when they drop their loved-ones off at the terminal.

“Thankfully the proportion of airports hiking fees this year is lower than last year, but that will be little consolation as charges across the board have never been so high.

“What’s perhaps more frustrating is that many travellers will call on their friends or family to take them to the airport because of persistent industrial action on the rail network meaning that for many, being dropped off at the airport by car is the only reliable way to make their flight on-time.

“Doing your research ahead of travelling has never been more important. Many airports offer a free or reduced-rate drop-off area away from the terminal in long-stay car parks where travellers can hop on a shuttle bus connection, saving their driver incurring more expensive charges nearer the departures building.

“Drivers tempted to drop loved-ones on the roads inside the boundaries of the airport should beware as many enforce no-stopping areas with cameras could lead to hefty penalty charges.”

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