8 in 10 UK airports increased pick-up and drop-off fees in 2019 – most expensive airports revealed

8 in 10 UK airports increased pick-up and drop-off fees in 2019 – most expensive airports revealed
Three-quarters of UK airports have increased pick-up charges and more than a third have put up their drop-off fees for drivers in 2019.

With the holiday season in full flow the RAC can reveal that eight in 10 (82%) of the UK’s 22 busiest airports* have increased their short-term charges for picking up and dropping off passengers by car since last year**.

Only Gatwick, Liverpool John Lennon, Bristol and Cardiff airports have kept their prices for both drop-off and pick-up the same.

London Southend has introduced a £3 for 10 minutes pick-up charge while Leeds Bradford is now advertising a £37 fee for 1-24 hours parking after its initial free hour of pick-up parking.

Looking at initial drop-off fees – often referred to as ‘kiss and fly charges’, which are typically levied for dropping passengers off either outside of or as close to the front of the terminal as possible, eight airports (36%) raised these while eight (36%) put up the cost of their initial periods of pick-up parking, and as many as 16 (73%) increased the charges for subsequent periods of pick-up parking. Overall 18 (82%) have put up, or introduced, fees in some way.


The most expensive UK airports ranked by initial drop-off fee

1   London Stansted – £4 for 10min then £1 per min for 10-15mins; £25 for over 15mins
2   London Luton – £4 for 13mins then £1 a min
3   Manchester – £3 for 5mins then £4 for 10mins; £25 for overstay of 10mins
4= East Midlands – £3 for 10mins then £1 a min
4= London Southend – £3 for 10mins then £5 for 10-30mins
6= Doncaster-Sheffied – £3 for 15mins then £5 for 16-30mins; £7 for 30-60mins
6= Birmingham – £3 for 15mins then £8 for 15-20mins; each extra 15mins thereafter up to £48 for 55-60mins
8   Liverpool John Lennon – £3 for 20mins then £10 for 1 hr; £20 for 2 hrs; £50 a day
9   Leeds Bradford – £3 for 30mins then £9 for 30-60mins; £18 for 1-2 hrs
10   Edinburgh – £2 for 5mins then £4 for 5-10mins; £10 for 10-15mins; £15 for 15mins-1hr; £15 per hr thereafter
11= Glasgow – £2 for 10mins then £4 for 11-15mins; £10 for 16-20mins, £15 for 21-30mins
11= Newcastle – £2 for 10mins then £4 for 10-30mins
11= Aberdeen – £2 for 10mins then £10 for 30mins; £30 for 1 hr
14   Southampton – £2 for 15mins then £4 for 15-30mins
15= Belfast International – £1 for 10mins £3 then for 10-20mins; £5 for 20-60mins
15= Bristol – £1 for 10mins then £3 for 10-20mins; £5 for 20-40mins
17= Belfast City – Free for 10mins then £3 for 10-30mins; £6 for 30-60mins
17= Cardiff – Free for 10mins then £5 for every 10mins thereafter

The most expensive UK airports ranked by initial pick-up fee

1= London Luton – £8 for 30mins then £10 for 30-45mins; £14 for 45mins-1hr; £18 for 1-2hrs
1= London Stansted – £8 for 30mins then £14 for 1hr; £18 for 2hrs
3   Birmingham – £5.50 for 1hr then £11 for 2hrs
4   Manchester – £4.50 for 30mins then £7 for 1hr; £10 for 2hrs
5   London Heathrow – £4.20 for 30 mins then £7.50 for 30mins to 1hr; £12 1-2hrs
6   Edinburgh – £4 for 15mins then £7 for 15-30mins; £10 for 30mins to 1hr; £16 for up to 2hrs
7= East Midlands – £4 for 30mins then £5 for 1hr; £9.50 for 2hrs
7= London Gatwick – £4 for 30mins then £8 for 31-60mins; £13 for 1-2hrs
9   London City – £3.50 for 10 mins then £8 for 10-20mins; £5 per 5mins thereafter
10   London Southend – £3 for 10mins then £5 for 5-30mins; £7 for up to 1hr; £12 for up to 2hrs
11= Liverpool John Lennon – £3 for 20mins then £10 for 1 hr; £20 for 2hrs
11= Glasgow – £3 for 20mins then £6.50 for 1 hr; £11 for 90mins; £12.50 for 2hrs
13   Aberdeen – £2.50 for 15mins then £6.50 for 1hr; £11 for 1.5hrs; £16 for 2hrs
14   Newcastle – £2 for 10minsthen £4 for 10-30mins; £5.50 for 30-45mins; £7 for 45-60mins; £8 per hr thereafter
15   Southampton – £2 for 15mins then £3 for 15-20mins; £6.50 for up to 1hr; £10 for up to 1.5hrs
16= Belfast International – £1 for 10mins £2.50 then for 10-20 mins; £3.50 for 20-30 mins; £5 for 30-60mins; £9.00 up to 2hrs
16= Cardiff – £1 for 10mins then £2 for 20mins; £3 for 1hr; £6 for 2hrs
18   Bristol – £1 for 20mins then £3.50 for 20-30mins; £6 for 30-60mins; £8 for 1-2hrs
19   Jersey – 80p for 30mins then £1.60 for 1 hr; £3.20 for 2hrs
20   Belfast City – Free for 10mins then £3 for 10-30 mins; £6 for 30-60 mins; £10 for 1-2hrs
21   Doncaster-Sheffield – Free for 15mins then £4 for up to 30mins; £6 up to 1 hr; £10 up to 2hrs
22   Leeds Bradford – Free for 1hr then £37 for 1hr to 24hrs


For the full list of details for each airport, please find the full story here.

Drop-off charges

London Stansted continues to top the drop-off charges’ table with a whopping £4 for 10 minutes, but London Luton is snapping at its heels having hiked its initial fee by £1 but giving an extra three minutes in the process (£4 for 13 minutes).

Six other airports charge initial fees of £3 but the time drivers dropping off get varies from a meagre five minutes at Manchester to a more generous 30 minutes at Leeds Bradford.

This gives Manchester the most expensive ‘per minute’ drop-off charge in the UK with its fee equating to 60p a minute.

East Midlands has added £1 to its charges taking the airport to £3 for 10 minutes. Birmingham and Doncaster-Sheffield have also both moved up to £3, but here drivers get 15 minutes with Birmingham adding an extra five minutes compared to 2018.

Birmingham also offers a free 30-minute drop-off nearby. Liverpool John Lennon also has an initial fee of £3 but here you get a more generous 20 minutes.

Edinburgh and Newcastle have both doubled their drop-off charges to £2 but Newcastle gives 10 minutes in contrast to Edinburgh’s five.

While Aberdeen has not increased its £2 fee, it has cut the stay from 15 minutes to 10. Six airports currently provide free drop-off facilities, most notably Heathrow and Gatwick.

Pick-up charges^

The RAC’s research also looked at pick-up parking. Many airports recommend car parks for picking up passengers which are closer to the terminal and are often marketed as short-stay, or an equivalent, so customers can leave their vehicles and greet passengers at the arrivals’ gate.

Among the eight airports that have increased their initial pick-up parking charges for 2019, London Stansted has hiked its prices the most with a £2.50p rise to £8 for 30 minutes, making it the joint most expensive airport with London Luton for this type of parking.

Lucky for drivers at Luton, prices did not go up for 2019 and they have introduced a more competitive rate for electric vehicles (£2 for up to 30 minutes). On a per-minute basis, this is matched by Edinburgh which charges an initial fee of £4 for 15 minutes – again not increased from last year.

Birmingham is the third most pricy for pick-up parking at £5.50 for an hour, having increased this rate by 40p. Manchester takes fourth spot on £4.50 for 30 minutes after a 50p increase.

By adding 20p to its initial cost London Heathrow has the fifth highest fee of £4.20 for 30 minutes. East Midlands added 50p taking its initial pick-up parking cost to £4 for 30 minutes – the same as London Gatwick.

London City has put its prices up by 30p to £3.50 for 10 minutes whereas Newcastle has doubled its to £2 for 10 minutes and Jersey has put on 10p giving it the lowest fee in the UK at 80p for 30 minutes, aside from Belfast City, Leeds Bradford, Doncaster-Sheffield which are all free for different amounts of time (Leeds Bradford for up to one hour; Doncaster for 15 minutes; Belfast for 10 minutes)

Pick-up ‘thereafter’ charges

Of the 16 airports that have hiked costs for stays beyond the initial periods of pick-up parking, Stansted’s is the most striking with £4 being added to its fee for up to an hour (now £14) and £1.50 going on to its two-hour fee (now £18).

This, together with the high initial pick-up fee of £8 for 30 minutes and a drop-off charge of £4 for 10 minutes, gives it the dubious honour of being the UK’s most expensive airport for collecting and setting down passengers.

Luton’s rise is also noteworthy with a £1 increase to three different time periods. It now costs £10 for 30-45 minutes; £14 for 45 minutes to an hour; and £18 for one to two hours.

London City upped its thereafter fees by putting on 50p and cut the staying time with £8 giving visitors 10-20 minutes, down from 30 minutes. After that it’s £5 per five minutes; a change from 2018 when it was £27.50 for up to an hour.

Heathrow added 30p for its 30-minute to one-hour time period, taking its fee to £7.50; it also added 50p to the one to 2-hour band, making it £12.

While Edinburgh kept its expensive initial rate of £4 for 15 minutes the same as in 2018 it has changed its tariff structure and lessened the value of its follow-on parking fees.

It has done away with its £7 charge for an hour and instead decided £7 will just buy 15-30 minutes. And, it’s now £10 for 30 minutes to an hour, and £16 for up to two hours (previously £14.50).

The other airports that made changes to their prices for this type of parking were: Aberdeen, Belfast City, Belfast International, Birmingham, Doncaster-Sheffield, East Midlands, Glasgow, Jersey, Manchester, Newcastle and Southampton.

RAC thoughts and advice

RAC spokesperson Simon Williams said: “While flying off on holiday is one of the most exciting times of the year, those dropping off or collecting friends or family are often left wincing at the prices charged by the UK’s busiest airports for the privilege.

“Many airports charge drivers to drop off and pick up to keep the terminal entrances clear of traffic and to discourage long stays in car parks.

Some might also see this as a way to encourage other forms of transport to the airport, but nevertheless these fees are still unwelcome, especially when you consider how little time most people actually spend at the airport.

“In reality, many travellers simply either do not have easy public transport access to get to the airport and even if they do, they can’t always depend on it getting them to the airport in good time.

“Many drivers dropping off their friends or family will naturally only spend a minute or two doing so which makes the experience all the more painful, especially if this is at London Stansted which charges the highest drop-off fee in the country at £4 for 10 minutes.

“And, if you’re on airport pick-up duty at Luton or Stansted it’s far better to know the fee for 30-minutes in advance as otherwise it has the potential to cause severe shock at a whopping £8.

“Doing your research on the fees charged before heading to drop off or pick up at an airport has to be the best advice. Some airports offer cheaper parking rates in mid-term or long-stay car parks though these tend to be further away from the terminal and might require an airport bus connection.

The smart option for anyone collecting is to make sure your friends or family have landed before heading into the airport to avoid the clock beginning to tick and the price starting to mount up. And, a phone call from the travellers to let you know they have collected their baggage is a good idea as long as you have hands-free phone equipment in the car.”

RAC top five tips to avoid stress and high airport parking charges

1. Do your research

Check out the parking pages on the airport’s website to understand fees, payment options and stay times. Some airports may even offer lower online rates and allow you to park for a limited free period in long-term and mid-stay car parks.

2. Have your payment ready

Once you have found out how to pay, ensure you have payment ready to hand whether that is adequate change, a debit or credit card or pre-programme the phone payment number into your mobile.

3. Identify a nearby ‘holding location’

It is worth checking out nearby free parking places in case your friends or relatives’ flight is delayed so you can wait for the plane to land before proceeding to the terminal. If picking up, make sure you keep abreast of the flight’s landing time. Do not be tempted to park on roads within the airport’s boundaries as cameras often enforce no-stopping rules and may land you with a charge.

4. Keep in touch

Ask your friends or relatives to call you once they have collected their luggage and cleared passport control so you can park at the optimum moment. But remember if you are driving – it must be hands-free.

5. Say your goodbyes before travel

Say your farewells with your passengers before you get to the airport to keep goodbyes to a minimum, otherwise they may prove expensive.


While those flying abroad may not have to worry too much about drop-off or pick up charges, if they are planning on hiring cars when they land they should perhaps spend some time making sure they are protected financially in case they are unlucky enough to damage their rental vehicle.

Many do not realise they can take out products such as RAC Hire Car Excess Insurance to cover them against huge excesses of between £500 and £2,000 in the event their vehicle suffers some form of damage.

What is RAC Car Hire Excess Insurance?

In addition, travel insurance is a must to ensure holidaymakers don’t lose out financially as a result of being taken ill abroad or losing or damaging valuable possessions.

For the full list of details for each airport, please find the full story here.


* These airports were chosen as they carry more than 1m passengers per year.
** Data collected by the RAC through research of official airport websites during August 2019
^ Pick up charges are based on the scenario where drivers park their vehicles and leave them to meet someone in the arrivals area. These typically are referred to as ‘short stay’ car parks, though some airports may market them differently. Our data is based on parking tariffs which the airports recommend drivers to use to pick-up via their websites.
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