Coping with the hassle of airports is always stressful, but spare a thought for the millions of travellers with disabilities and special needs who find the whole experience even more of a headache.
Airports and airlines have become increasingly clued-up with regards to helping once you are in the terminal, but what about parking? Will there be anyone to help, and what needs to be done ahead of arrival to make sure it all works smoothly?
Photo: Matt Taylor
Two and a half years ago, in autumn 2011, an automatic pod transport system was revealed at Heathrow Terminal 5, designed by Ultra Global and allowing 800 passengers a day to travel stress-free between the T5 Business Car Park and the terminal. We say stress-free, how about adrenaline-filled and state-of-the-art-amazing?!
The award-winning £30m system took 6 years to develop and a year to trial prior to its launch and boasts driverless vehicles with self-recharging batteries, and enough space (and power!) to transport up to 4 passengers in each pod.
The pods find their way around using laser sensors, and initially it was estimated it would have cut the amount of bus journeys around Heathrow terminal by 50,000 a year. Read More
It is unlikely that you will incur a parking fine when using a long-term airport car park, provided you have given the correct information when booking. These car parks charge per 24-hour period, so it is unlikely, even if your flight is delayed, that you will have overstayed your welcome.
In extenuating circumstances, such as the case of the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud a couple of years ago, which meant many passengers returned days late from their holiday, a common-sense approach was adopted by the vast majority of car park operators.
As far as short-term parking goes, most car parks operate a pay on exit system meaning that even if the person you are picking up is delayed for hours you will not incur a parking fine.
Most airport parking fines are incurred when dropping off or picking up passengers without using the short-term car park, and stories abound of drivers being hit with punitive fines for stopping on approach roads. Automatic number plate recognition technology makes it easy for the operator to monitor your comings and goings.
Many airports provide a drop-off zone and charge a fee of a few pounds for a short stop. If you decide to leave your car to help your passenger in to the terminal or overstay the allotted time, then fines of £80 are commonplace. At other airports it is forbidden to stop at all, and if you should grind to a halt briefly to read a notice, for instance, you can expect to be faced with a fine. Read More
If you have a holiday coming up, you may be wondering whether it is better to get to the airport by taxi, public transport or by driving your own car and parking once you get there. There are of course arguments in favour of all methods. We take a look at the pros and cons of taking your own car to the airport and using airport car parking.
If all that matters to you is cost, it is relatively easy to make a comparison. First of all, ring around to find out how much a return taxi fare to the airport is. Don’t forget that if you want the driver to wait for you at Arrivals rather than leaping in as he lurks on the approach roads, you will need to factor in the cost of short-term parking as this cost will be passed on to you.
Check the bus or train fare too so that you can compare prices with parking costs and make an informed decision.
If your holiday is a long one, the cost of parking is likely to be far more than a return taxi fare.
Don’t forget that if you are a biker, parking at the airport is often free.
We take a look at some of the common questions posed by motorists planning to leave their car at the airport.
I am leaving my car at the airport soon and don’t want to spend my holiday worrying that it won’t start when I get back. What can I do to make sure this won’t happen?
The biggest enemy of airport parkers is battery failure. The RAC says that batteries are most likely to go flat when the car has been left parked for a long period of time and that this is a particular risk in cold weather. Batteries need to be replaced on average every three to five years, so if yours is on its last legs, perhaps replacing it before you set off for the airport is a good idea.
My battery isn’t that old so I don’t want to replace it. Is there anything I can do to check that it is still in good condition?
You can have your battery professionally checked but if you want to cut costs there are a few things to look out for yourself.
– Check that there are no cracks in the casing
– Check that there are no white or rust-coloured deposits on the terminals or connectors as this indicates corrosion.
– Make sure there are no bulges in the casing.
– Finally, a good give-away of battery troubles is when the interior lights are dim or will not come on at all.
Is there anything else that I should do to my battery to make sure it is in tip-top condition?
If your battery is not a sealed unit, you should check the electrolyte level and top up with distilled water. Also make sure that when you leave your car you switch off all lights, heated seats, etc, to avoid the battery draining in your absence. Read More