Parking at the airport is typically seen as a luxury convenience or an unnecessary expense, but that’s not necessarily the case. While you could take an Uber to the airport or ask your friend for a ride, there are better ways to ensure your journey to the airport is as hassle-free as possible.
Everyone loves to save money, but is it possible to find cheap airport parking? Yes, airport parking can be well within your reach if you know where to look and know when to book.
How to Get the Most out of Airport Parking
Paid parking lots with security and lighting were introduced back in the 1950s. Since then, airport parking has charged its customers more and more, but you can still save money.
Learn How Airport Parking Works
On-lot parking typically comes in six main types if you’re traveling from a large airport:
- Drop-Off/Pick-Up Zones: Offers curbside access to airport entrances for a duration of 15-minutes. If you leave your car here, you’ll either be towed or charged excessively.
- Cell Phone Waiting Lots: Remote lots for cheap parking. They’re similar to drop-off zones, but they’re located much farther away from the airport’s pick-up zone.
- Short-term Parking: Used for people who aren’t staying longer than 4 hours. If you leave your car here, it’s the second most expensive option, especially for overnight.
- On-Site Long-Term Parking: Allows travelers to park their car for the duration of their trip. It’s the third most expensive option unless you’re in a pricey lot with add-ons.
- Off-Site Long-Term Parking: Offers discounted parking space in off-lot garages or hotels. For example, you can find cheap airport parking in Toronto at Park4U.
- On-Site Car Rental Lots: Airports that work in partnership with car rental companies will allow you to pre-book or book a terminal at a discounted rate if you rent a car.
The type of parking you choose is determined by your comfort, costs, and availability. Keep in mind that cheap short-term parking lots fill up really quickly, so it’s essential to plan ahead.
Consider Parking Off-Lot First
The closer the parking lot is to the terminal building, the higher the costs. However, there are many hotels, parking garages, and off-site lots that allow flyers to park their car at a discounted rate. Most of these places provide a free ride to the airport, valet parking, and luggage loading.
Another benefit to off-lot parking is availability, security, and accessibility. Most off-lot garages will be available at the last minute and come with gated lots or 24/7 security coverage. If you find that accessibility is lacking at the airport, you may find it better at hotels and other lots.
Always Pre-Book for Airport Parking
Similar to flight and hotel bookings, you should also reserve a parking space at the airport as early as possible. This guarantees you’ll get the best price for your lot and avoids last-minute stressors. People who wait last-minute typically pay 60% more than they otherwise would have.
If you plan to book your flight in advance, make sure you also reserve airport parking at the time of purchase. You may receive a special discount for booking both options together.
Search for Parking Discounts Online
Most airport parking websites or coupon sites will feature exclusive discounts for people who care to look for them. While it’s uncommon for airports to offer discounts off their website, there are airport partners that offer memberships or stamp cards exclusively for their members.
For example, Groupon will sell cheap parking coupons, while Park’N Fly has a reward system that allows you to earn points towards free parking and corporate discounts. Several of these membership companies will offer to double your Aeroplan miles when you book with them.
Become a Frequent Flyer Member
When you become a Frequent Flyer with an airport with an airline of your choice, you’ll be able to earn points towards free tickets and parking. While you will be locked into one airline, these memberships typically earn you more points than off-site programs, so you can redeem faster.
If you travel for business or vacation frequently, signing for a Frequent Flyer Program is the best thing you can do for your wallet. Plus, it takes less than 5 minutes to become a member.