/ TAG / UK

As UK airport drop-off fees soar – read our full guide and top tips including how to avoid them

As UK airport drop-off fees soar – read our full guide and top tips including how to avoid them

A new guide compares the ‘kiss and fly’ charges at airports across the UK

Finding a kind friend or family member to take you to the airport is not as cheap an option as it used to be.

Now, when weighing up the best way to get to and from the airport before setting off on a family holiday, you need to take into consideration more than just the fuel costs and time it will take your driver.

As your airport taxi service also faces increasing charges for using the designated drop-off areas at most UK airports.

Airport specialist Airport Parking and Hotels, is now helping designated drivers to plan ahead by revealing the range of so-called ‘kiss and fly’ charges at the 20 top UK airports.

It found that most airports charge a drop-off fee with the cost varying widely, for a set time, often just five or ten minutes, with extra charges for going over the limit.

The guide reveals costs and allocated times for dropping-off – as well as pick-up and parking – at UK airports including Manchester, London Gatwick, and Newcastle Airport.

Most expensive and cheapest airport drop-offs

​Of the airports investigated, London Stansted was among the most expensive, charging £7 for 15 minutes with Bristol, Leeds and London Gatwick charging drivers £6 for 10 minutes.

The cheapest airports, Norwich International and Southampton Airports, charge £5 for up to 30 minutes.

Free airport drop-offs

Only two were found to allow drivers the option of dropping-off outside the terminal for free – Cardiff International Airport and Birmingham International Airport – if drivers spend no longer than five minutes or 10 minutes respectively in the drop-off area.

Airports offering free drop-off may charge after a certain amount of time – Cardiff Airport charges £5 for every 10 minutes parked after the initial 10 minutes.

Free drop-off areas

Most airports do offer free drop-off areas however these come with a time limit and are usually located in long-stay car parks away from the airport forecourt, requiring a long walk or bus transfer to the terminal.

Our 8 airport drop-off top tips and how to avoid charges

  • 1. Research your chosen airport’s drop-off facilities before you travel so that you are aware of the charges, how to pay and stay times.
  • 2. Don’t park illegally on approach roads to drop off passengers, it can be dangerous and security cameras are likely to catch you.
  • 3. Many airports have a free area for drop-offs, you will have a walk though of up to 15 minutes or a shuttle ride to the terminal so this will not work for everyone or if you are short of time. For example, Heathrow Airport offers free parking for 30 minutes in its long-stay car parks and a free shuttle bus to terminals.
  • 4. It sounds obvious but make sure you park at the right terminal to avoid a long walk with heavy luggage – at Manchester for example, terminals 1 and 3 are only a short distance from one another, but Terminal 2 is further away – up to a 20-minute walk.
  • 5. Have any long goodbyes before you get to the airport, if you have an extended farewell when you get there, the costs could escalate – if you are at a Manchester drop-off area for over 10 minutes, you will receive a £25 fine.
  • 6. Make sure the driver has their payment ready, whatever the method including cash or card. Some airports only accept charges to be paid online, over the phone or by setting up an AutoPay account.
  • 7. If you are travelling by taxi, check whether the fare includes the drop-off fee.
  • 8. Don’t forget to consider other options before deciding how you will travel including public transport, off-site parking and shuttle services offered by nearby hotels. If you are parking at the airport it is normally much cheaper to pre-book.

Collection

When collecting loved ones, 14 airports permit collection of passengers from the terminal forecourt. Drivers at nine airports, including Bristol, must collect travellers from the short-stay car parks nearby, with the cost varying from free to £20 for up to one hour.

APH

APH conducted its research in February (2024).

Nick Caunter, APH managing director said: “Asking friends and family for a kiss and fly’ lift may seem like a good option, however once they’ve taken into account the cost of fuel, vehicle wear and tear and airport fees it may cost them a lot more than you think.

“Also, there is an environmental cost to consider from the extra return journey. 

“We advise travellers to do their research before asking friends or family as other options such as pre-booking airport parking can not only be cheaper, but also a more environmentally friendly way to travel.”

Related content

Flying with a baby or infant under two – our comprehensive guide will help you from the airport to the plane

Flying with children – 10 tips for keeping toddlers and young children happy on a plane

The 9 top tips to finding cheap flights for you and your family

Universal Studios theme park England, UK – all you need to know about the potential project

Universal Studios theme park England, UK – all you need to know about the potential project

The latest on plans to open a Universal theme park in Bedford, England

Theme park giant Universal has revealed ‘very early’ plans for a potential park and resort experience in Bedford, England.

There are no Universal theme parks in Europe yet, so this would be huge news for UK families.

Universal Orlando Resort was the highlight of our trip to Florida, so here at the Family Holiday Guide, we are VERY excited at the idea of some of that magic being brought so much closer to home.

So here we look at everything that is known so far.

Where might Universal be opening a theme park in the UK?

Universal are looking at a former brickworks site in Bedfordshire, England.

The 480-acre (195 hectares) plot is in Stewartby, between Bedford and Milton Keynes.

It lies between London and Birmingham. It’s around 60 miles (97km) from London and 78 miles (126km) from Birmingham.

Proposed site of a Universal theme park in Bedford, England, UK. A map showing the site in Stewartby.

Why has Universal chosen this site?

Universal say they have chosen the site:

  • Due to its ‘transportation connectivity to London and Europe’.
  • Because ‘more than half of the UK population live within two hours’.
  • Its proximity to Luton Airport.

Has Universal actually bought land?

Yes, Universal’s parent company Comcast Corporation has purchased the parcel of land.

What stage are the plans at?

Universal says the plans are in the ‘very early stages’.

It is conducting a feasibility study and it could be months before they decide whether the potential project will proceed.

What has Universal said?

“We are always looking at new locations around the world, including in Europe, and the UK is an attractive place for a potential project.

“While we do own the land, we are only at the beginning of our feasibility study as part of our evaluation of potential sites.”

Where are Universal’s other parks?

Universal Destinations & Experiences has some of the world’s best and most innovative theme parks with advanced film and television-based attractions, hotels, resorts and live entertainment.

It has five entertainment and resort complexes:

  • Universal Orlando Resort
  • Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Universal Studios Japan (Osaka)
  • Universal Beijing Resort
  • Universal Studios Singapore.

Is the project being supported locally?

The idea has been welcomed by Bedford Borough Council.

Its mayor Tom Wootton, said the theme park could be ‘transformative for the borough’.

Universal is keen to consult with the local community and has already created a website to inform people living in the area and has also written to residents.

The letter includes details of the thousands of jobs that its parks create and states that the company is committed to enhancing the natural beauty and protecting the ecology of the areas in which it operates.

It added: “While we have been encouraged by the positive nature of conversations we’ve had so far with various national and local stakeholders — including Bedford Borough Council and the Mayor of Bedford Borough — we plan to work closely with our local communities should we progress. “

What about the Government?

The plans have also been discussed by the Government and appear to have the backing of Bedford Labour MP Mohammad Yasin.

He said a park would bring ‘enormous prosperity and jobs’ to the area.

The MP spoke in the Commons to ask the government to support road improvements to help deliver the proposed theme park.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt have also been briefed on the bid.

What do you think?

We will keep you updated with the plans. What do you think of the idea? Let us know in the comments.

Related stories

Universal Orlando Resort – guide, video and top tips for one of the most popular attractions in the world

Marriott Village Orlando hotels near to Disney World and Universal Studios

Top luxury hotel review and tips – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

Want to watch a basketball match in Orlando? Here’s all you need to know

Fun for all the family at GreenWood Forest Park in North Wales

Fun for all the family at GreenWood Forest Park in North Wales

We take our children to review GreenWood Forest Park near Caernarfon in North Wales

What is it?

GreenWood Forest Park is a family adventure park which has been voted the best family day out in North Wales for seven years.

Where is it?

It is between Caernarfon and Bangor near Snowdonia National Park.

What did we think?

It’s a fantastic family day out for younger children, especially those aged three to 10.

We visited on a grey, drizzly day and still had a wonderful time. The wet weather meant it wasn’t busy, plus, although it was our school holidays, local children were back at school.

Our highlights

Great Green Run

An exhilarating 70-metre sledge run loved by our three and seven-year-old children and we parents alike. It is the longest sledge run in Wales.

A child sledges down the slope of the Great Green Run

The Great Green Run

And little ones don’t need to miss out on the fun. Next to it is the Little Green Run for toddlers to enjoy.

A girl rides a sledge down The Little Green Run

The Little Green Run

Green Dragon Roller Coaster

This is the world’s only people-powered roller coaster.

Children and families ride the Green Dragon Roller coaster

The Green Dragon Roller coaster

You walk up a hill, get into a people carrier which travels down an incline, pulling the cars up to the station. You then walk up another hill and get on the ride which is gravity driven.

It’s not a ‘scary’ roller coaster, no loop the loops. Perfect for children, although you have to be 97cm. Our three-year-old loved it.

Magic show

There were two shows at 1pm and 3pm (same entertainer, different show) and we went to both. He really made the children chuckle.

Jungle boats

You have to work as a family to navigate the canal using one paddle and ropes to propel you along.

Solar Splash

This is the first solar-powered ride in the UK and is for braver visitors to the park. You climb up a 12 metre tower and take an inflatable boat down one of two wave shoots or a spiral tube.

Children ride the Solar Splash water slides

Solar Splash

More fun

There’s also a barefoot trail, den building, a crocodile maze, Tree Top Towers tree house with slides, zip wires, Moon Karts, crafts, archery and a soft play area for under-threes.

Tree Top Towers tree house

Tree Top Towers tree house

And there is a bigger soft play area with a great cafe/restaurant where I was thrilled to find a wood burner to sit next to, to warm up at the end with a cake and a cup of tea!

In conclusion

We all leave with a smile on our faces feeling like we’ve had a thoroughly lovely day.

Our top tips

*If it is wet, the magic show is undercover and the soft play areas will be open. Also if it is raining it would be handy to have a towel or cloth to wipe seats/sledges etc so little ones don’t get too wet and uncomfortable.

*Dogs on leads are allowed.

*Be warned, the exit is via the shop!

*Some of the rides don’t open at certain times of year or in certain weather so check first.

GreenWood Forest Park information

Food: Picnics are welcome. There is a restaurant and snack bars.

Opening hours: 10am to 5.30pm.

Cost: It is cheaper in low or mid-season, rising at peak season to £16.20 for adults and children, seniors and students. Free for children under three. It is cheaper to book online.

Best for: Ages three to 10.

Time needed: At least three to four hours or a whole day.

Access and restrictions: It has partial disabled access but some areas and rides are difficult or impossible to access for disabled visitors. There are height and age restrictions on some rides.

Address: GreenWood, Y Felinheli, Gwynedd. (For sat nav use the postcode LL55 3AD).