In recent years, more travellers are choosing the Meet and Greet option when booking airport parking in the UK. What used to be thought of as a premium service for business travellers and the wealthy is now an affordable option for the leisure holidaymaker and even those on a budget.
In 2011 approximately 20% of bookings at Gatwick were for Meet and Greet but by the end of 2013 this figure had almost doubled to 38%
As the number of travellers booking Meet and Greet has increased, so has the number of companies offering this service but what should you look out for when choosing a company to ensure your happy holiday doesn’t come to an abrupt end when you get back to the airport?
What is Meet and Greet Parking?
Meet and Greet, also known as Valet Parking, adds additional convenience to traditional airport parking where you simply drive to the airport, your car is taken from you, driven to the secure car park and then delivered back to the airport terminal for collection on your return.
Benefits of booking a Meet and Greet
Many people prefer to book a Meet and Greet for the convenience of not having to drive around to find a car park as well as eliminating the need to use a transfer bus but there are additional benefits which may not be obvious at first.
Families travelling with young children or those travellers who find it difficult to get on and off a transfer bus may find it easier to simply drive to the airport in their own car, hand over the keys and walk straight through to the terminal.
Additionally, those travelling with large luggage items such as skis and snowboards may find it tricky loading and unloading their luggage on to transfer bus, particularly if it’s a smaller car parking company that uses minibuses and booking a meet and greet service and unloading the luggage straight out of your car solves this issue.
Questions to ask when booking
Where will you be met?
With a Meet and Greet service you would expect to be met outside the terminal doors but some companies opt to pick-up the cars in the short-term car park or in an area near to the terminal which may not be as convenient as it first appeared.
Where will your car be parked?
Check where your car will be driven to once you’ve handed over the keys. Some companies use multiple sites so try to find out the maximum distance your car will travel.
What security does the car park have?
Check the security facilities at the site where your car will be parked. Sites that have been vetted by the Police will be awarded the Park Mark for their security.
At Gatwick, is the company approved by the Airport?
Gatwick Airport recently published a list of Approved Meet and Greet operators. These companies have adhered to both the Park Mark and Trading Standards “Buy with Confidence” schemes. Click here to view a list of approved operators at Gatwick.
Does the car park feature on the websites of the major airport parking comparison sites?
Companies such as FHR, APH, HolidayExtras and Purple Parking have over 100 years of airport parking experience between them. Their reputations depend on selecting reputable and reliable parking services to offer their customers. Take care if you’re looking at a Meet and Greet that doesn’t feature of any of those websites.
Does the price include all the airport access fees?
Many UK airports have introduced fees to access the forecourt at the terminal, make sure to check for any fees that are not included in the price. Similarly, some companies will return your car to the short stay car park at the airport and there may be a fee to exit. Check if the short-term car park fees are included in the price or if you have to pay and also how long you get to exit the car park before the price increases.
Advice for a smooth running service
Once you’ve booked and received confirmation, check that all the information is correct and make sure you take your confirmation instructions and the contact details for the parking company with you on the day.
Most Meet and Greet companies will require you to ring when you’re approximately 10-20 minutes away from the airport so they know you’re running on time and they can send a driver up to the terminal. If you’re travelling to the airport alone this may mean that you need to pull over to make the call and store the number in your phone before you set off.
Allow time at the airport for the driver to find you, inspect your vehicle and give you the instructions for your return greet.
Finally, once you’re arrived back from your holiday and your car has been brought back to the airport remember to check it over whilst the driver is there and if there are any problems make sure you raise them at the time as trying to raise a problem once the car has left the airport and you have driven home is exceptionally difficult.
Following these simple tips can ensure that your Meet and Greet booking runs smoothly and you can relax on your trip safe in the knowledge that your car is being taken care of.