To obtain cheaper airport parking you first have to understand how off airport car parks work. Every car park has limited space and they are all looking to maximise their space and do this they may even have to drop their prices on certain days to achieve this, which at first seems like an odd thing to do heathrow airport to gatwick airport.
Let me first take you back before the time of computers and the internet to give you a feel of how systems have been developed. Airport car parks originally used to advertise in local newspapers or if at one of the bigger airports such as Heathrow or Gatwick in the national newspapers.
Upon a customer telephoning they would send out a brochure enclosing a price list with prices for the winter season running from November to March and summer April to October with blanket hikes in price for certain months covering school holidays and bank holidays such as Christmas and New Year.
As you can see the problem for the off airport car operator, it was difficult to contact customers and having done so only being only able to offer a limited price structure which was built on historical knowledge and a bit of second guessing of as to what competitor prices were going to be.
Operators are always looking to maximise their space but this is made more difficult because the airlines fly out departing customers first and the pick them up later in the day for all short and medium haul flights. Only long haul work the opposite way with customers coming to the car park in the late afternoon and arriving back early in the morning.
Due to the nature of the industry, nearly 40% of all movements occur during the week-end with Saturday the busiest day. In the old days they would ideally have liked to add the cars coming into the car park to those remaining and then take off the cars leaving to arrive at an overnight total. Due to more coming in first they have to reduce the amount of cars they could take.
Fortunately the internet has changed all this and allows the operator to have more control over pricing and at the same time allow the buyer of the product to spot an opportunity. By attracting more cars Monday to Friday they will avoid the big swings that occur and can use roadway space up to a limit to ensure the car park is nearly always full.
This also reduces their staffing costs and puts less pressure on their transport by not concentrating too many movements at the week-end. If you can always look to travel outside of the week-end if at all possible check several car parks because they will constantly be changing prices to maximise their positions.
Or if booking in peak season always look to book as early as you can because off airport car parks tend to fill up well before the airport to get the best price. Once the car park for any given day starts to reach capacity prices will rise. Conversely at off peak outside of bank holidays leaving as late as you dare will also pay off.
The author is the owner of Flypark.co.uk who have been providing airport parking at all UK airports since 1989. Off airport car parks offer considerable savings and can cut the cost of parking by up to 50% and with more and more travellers opting for this option early booking is recommended to get the best price and avoid having to park on airport where prices are exorbitant.