On 1st November Heathrow Airport implanted a new drop off charge of £5 and its introduction aligns with other UK airports that already charge for drop offs. Which airports don’t charge for drops offs? Can you avoid drop off charges?
Pre pandemic investigations by Money Saving Expert revealed that more than half the UKs major airports charged for drop offs longer than 10 minutes and many had also hiked up their prices for drop offs of variable lengths. Heathrow and Gatwick are late to the party in their introduction and the concern is now that others will follow suit.
Why have the Heathrow airport drop off charges been introduced?
During the pandemic, Heathrow suffered a daily loss of £5 million per day, which resulted in a cumulative loss of £2.9 billion. The new drop- off charges are expected to raise around £100 million per year in revenue. This can be used to help the airport recover and preserve jobs as a result of the pandemic.
The introduction of charges brings Heathrow in line with Gatwick, which introduced a £5 charge back in March 2021. The aim was to avoid ‘kiss and fly’ drop offs, which apparently account for 15% of all car journeys and to try to encourage passengers to use public transport instead.
According to the website the introduction of charges is ‘part of the updated Surface Plan Strategy and sustainable travel plans.’ It aims to reduce airport congestion and emissions for the surrounding areas as well as being a deterrent for a car led post pandemic recovery.
The new Heathrow charge applies to anyone dropping passengers off at the airport with the exception of black cabs, blue badge holders, operational vehicles and emergency services. Number recognition will be used to track vehicles and identify where fees are due. Pick-ups will still be possible via the chargeable short stay car park.
Which UK airports do not charge for drop offs?
Airports that do not charge for drop offs are London City Airport, Cardiff, Guernsey, Inverness, Isle of Man, Jersey and Newquay. The latter being the piece de resistance with two car parks offering 30 minutes of free parking to make pick up and drop off for passengers as easy as possible.
Can you avoid Heathrow airport drop off charges?
Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do to avoid the drop off charges. Non-payment will result in an £80 Parking Charge Notice (PCN) which is reduced to £40 if paid within 14 days.
However black cabs are currently exempt as are other forms of public transport so if there’s no need to travel by car, then choose an alternate mode of transport.
Consider the use of the Heathrow long stay car park, which offers 2 hours free parking and a free shuttle bus to the terminals.
Although avoidance tactics are limited, there are ways that you can minimise the stress and hassle of the drop off charges:
Do you research beforehand (check the official airport website for specific charges information and special rates)
Have your payment ready and know how to pay. You can pay your £5 charge in advance, on the day you drop-off, or by midnight the next day.
Identify if there is a safe location nearby where you can ‘hold’ until closer to drop off time
Say your farewells before you drop off to save time and look into alternative car parking options nearby.