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Ten ways to save money at the airport

Marc Crosby 14th May 2014 2 Comments

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Going on holiday can be an expensive business so the last thing you want to do is spend a fortune whilst you’re at the airport. Luckily for you MoneyMagpie has ten great ways for you to save money at the airport.


Book a first class lounge

It might sound counter-intuitive, but paying for a first class lounge may well save you money in the long run. Prices vary from airport to airport but for adults it is usually £30 or under, £15 or under for children and free for infants. This not only covers the cost of a comfy room to wait in but also includes food and drinks.

If you were planning on eating at the airport anyway, doing it this way could work out cheaper for you and your family. Plus it keeps you away from the shops so you’re not tempted to buy something that you don’t really want or need.

For example, Heathrow has the Servisair Executive Lounge at terminals 1 & 3 which offers complimentary alcoholic and soft drinks, teas, coffees and snacks, internet access, computer points, television and comfortable chairs, all for just £17 per adult. Equally Gatwick has a No 1 Lounge in both their North and South terminals. These provide complimentary food and drink, free Wi-Fi, a games room, mini cinema, showers and more. You get all this for around £25 per adult, and if you pre-book online you can save £5 off the cost.


Book ahead for parking

Woman wheeling suitcase in airport carpark

Turning up on the day to park will mean paying the maximum price for your parking. To save money you should book well in advance (for example, you can save 25% by pre-booking with APH) and remember to shop around to find the best price.

Good sites to check out include APH, Airport Parking Shop, ParkBCP, Holiday Extras and Simply Parking. Once you have received your quotes it is still well worth checking out BAA, who provide the official airport parking at many of the UK’s biggest airports (including Standsted, Heathrow, Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.) BAA offer a range of parking options for travellers on a budget.

Another easy way to find good parking prices is to use a comparison site such as holidayextras, which helps find you the best deal and, if you book through their site, may offer a further discount.

Using one of these sites could save you up to 50% on the cost of airport parking!


Stay in cheap accommodation a few miles from the airport

B&B sign

If you are planning to stay in a hotel before going to the airport it will be cheaper to stay somewhere a few miles from the airport. The hotels closest will be charging premium prices for being close to the airport, so finding a Bed and Breakfast a few miles away might work out significantly cheaper, even if you include the cost of the taxi journey to the airport.

If you are bringing a car, however, it would be best to see if there are any nearby hotels offering parking as part of their package as they are often not much more expensive than parking on its own and you’ll get a room chucked in as well.

To find cheap last minute rooms visit Late Rooms, or for cheap Bed and Breakfast deals use a comparison site like bookdirectrooms.


Take an empty water bottle

Empty plastic water bottle

This is a really simply way to save money. Take an empty water bottle with you and fill it up at a water fountain in the airport. This way you can keep dehydration away without having to keep splashing out your cash on pricey drinks.

All airport water in developed countries should be safe to drink but if you are going somewhere exotic it might be worth doing a little research to make sure the water is safe when you arrive.

Nigel’s Eco Store have a great collapsible water bottle for just £4.99. When you’ve finished drinking from it you can squash it down to a third of its size and carry it around in your pocket, plus its a great way to cut down water bottle waste.


Take advantage of airport discount codes

Airport discount on smartphone

Many of the airports have special offers and deals on products and meals so it is worth checking the website of the airport you are travelling with to see what is available. Gatwick in particular offers a great range of vouchers, in fact they have a whole site dedicated to offers so look them up online. Deals available at the time of writing include 10% off parking, 10% off a local hotel, money off travel insurance and free hot drinks when purchased with food.

It goes without saying that you won’t be saving money if you spend on something that you wouldn’t otherwise have bought, but if there is something you were already planning spending on then there are some great offers and savings to be made.


Orientate yourself

Young women using a map at the airport

If you are going to a foreign airport it makes sense to find out where everything is before you arrive. Locate the water fountains and find the cheap places to eat. Look up your airport’s website and see what information they have about the buildings, the shops, the amenities and transport. Many airport websites now have a lot of information and some even offer an app to help you get about.

Book ahead for taxis if possible or, even better, see if you can find a coach that will take you where you need to go. For a quick and cheap way to book taxis you could also use the Uber app, which allows you to locate a taxi near you and get a quote for your journey. It is also cashless as the app charges your credit card once you’ve reached your destination. Uber operates in over 70 cities, but if you’re in London and want to show the black cabs a bit of support then you could download the HAILO app, which operates in a very similar way to Uber but helps you find a black cab.

The more prepared you are, the less likely you’ll have to spend money unnecessarily.


Don’t use Express train services

Fast train

Express train services charge considerably more than the cost of a normal train as they go straight to the station without calling points. It is probably worth just getting an ordinary train and saving yourself the extra money, unless you are in a huge rush.

The National Rail website shows you can book, for example, an express service from London Victoria straight to Gatwick for £19.90. Alternatively you can get an ordinary train service for just £10, which is basically half the price! And, of course, the more family members you are paying for the more it all adds up. You may think this will mean adding more time to your journey, but a normal train from Victoria to Gatwick only stops at two stations before Gatwick which adds about three to five minutes onto the journey. Worth saving £10 for we would say.

For more information on getting the cheapest train tickets take a look at our article here.


Eat before you leave

Someone eating a full english breakfast

It may not be possible but, if you can, why not eat before you arrive at the airport? Food is almost certainly going to be one of the greatest costs you’re likely to spend at the airport so it makes sense to eat before you leave if you can.

It is also a good idea to bring a few small snacks a long as well, so you don’t have to fork out on overpriced food. If you combine this with bringing an empty bottle then it will mean that you won’t have to spend a penny on food or drink.


Bring some entertainment

Family using tablet in departure lounge

To fight off the temptation to buy a newspaper or an expensive book it makes sense to come prepared and have your own entertainment. Airports can be boring places so if you think you would like to have a book to read, for example, then order online from a site like Amazon, or browse local charity shops, where the books will be a fraction of the price that you will pay in an airport shop.

Of course if you own a Kindle you can have a material loaded ready and waiting for you, so there is no excuse.Equally bring a pair of earphones with you as some airlines charge you for them.


Don’t pay for Wi-Fi

Free wifi sign in airport

Knowing that you have the whole internet at your fingertips can be a very tempting way to drain your money at the airport. Many of the airports will offer you free Wi-Fi for a limited period of time, for example at Gatwick you can get 45 minutes free, but after that you have to pay.

Try to avoid the temptation to spend by saving any particularly useful webpages that you want to read on to your computer so you won’t have to use the Wi-Fi. This is also a cheap way to combat boredom if you forgot to bring reading material.

For more ways to save money on holiday take a look at our article 18 ways to save money on holiday.

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SkyPark Steve
SkyPark Steve
8 years ago

Great advice on the airport parking, you really can save a huge amount by pre-booking your parking. Another site that you might want to consider mentioning in your next article is SkyParkSecure.com. This is a price comparison site for Official and Non-official airport car parking. The advantage of using this comparison site is that it allows you to compare prices, security levels, and genuine reviews. Plus if you sign up to their emails there is a very good chance you will gain a further discount code. So it would be 50% cheaper than turning up on the day, PLUS up… Read more »

Griffin Financial
Griffin Financial
9 years ago

Hi Marc,

Great article, I found this really helpful and would really benefit our
customers too.

I have always thought airports just burn a hole in your pocket! You
show a lot of great tips to save at the airport that my customers
would find helpful. I Holidays are expensive enough last thing you
want to do is spend a lot of money before your even there. Thanks for
a great article this will definitely come in handy!


Griffin Financial

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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