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Home  /  Blog  /  Commercial Vehicle  /  Revealed: Most expensive airports & how taxis can avoid charges
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Revealed: Most expensive airports & how taxis can avoid charges

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Tuesday, 11 December 2018 GMT

Author: Staveley Head

The airport run, it’s like marmite. You either love it or hate it. And for those of you who hate it, the airport charges (otherwise known as daylight robbery) are probably your biggest bug bare of all. Well as Taxi Insurance experts, we’re here to save the day (or at least try). We’ve compiled a list of the busiest and costliest airports, and ways that you can avoid the charges.


The most expensive airports to drop off

Stansted is the most expensive, charging £25.00 for half an hour, that’s almost £1.00 per minute!

Using data from the Civil Aviation Authority, we gathered the top 30 busiest airports in terms of passenger footfall and ranked airports from the most expensive (for ten minutes) to the cheapest. According to Cardiff Airport, the average drop off time is 7 minutes, so we compiled our research in order of the costliest airports for a ten minute stay (to give you a bit of margin for error). Some airports offer different pricing for picking up which you can find out in the next section.

Airport Costing per time spent dropping off
5 mins 10 mins 15 mins 30 mins
Southend Free £4.50 £4.50 £4.50
Manchester £3.00 £4.00 N/A* N/A*
Edinburgh £2.00 £4.00 £10.00 £15.00
Stansted £3.50 £3.50 £8.50 £25.00
Luton £3.00 £3.00 £8.00 £23.00
Liverpool £3.00 £3.00 £3.00 £10.00
Bournemouth £3.00 £3.00 £3.00 £3.00
Leeds Bradford £3.00 £3.00 £3.00 £3.00
Newcastle £1.00 £3.00 £3.00 £3.00
East Midlands £2.00 £2.00 £7.00 £22.00
Birmingham £2.00 £2.00 £5.00 £20.00
Glasgow £2.00 £2.00 £4.00 £10.00
Aberdeen £2.00 £2.00 £2.00 £10.00
Doncaster Sheffield £2.00 £2.00 £2.00 £5.00
Glasgow Prestwick Free £2.00 £2.00 £4.00
Southampton £2.00 £2.00 £2.00 £3.50
Belfast International £1.00 £1.00 £3.00 £5.00
Bristol £1.00 £1.00 £3.00 £5.00
Exeter £1.00 £1.00 £1.00 £1.00
Isle of Man £1.00 £1.00 £1.00 £1.00
Cardiff Free Free £5.00 £10.00
Inverness Free Free £3.60 £3.60
Norwich Free Free Free £2.30
Gatwick N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A*
Heathrow N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A*
Jersey N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A*
Guernsey Free Free Free Free
London City Free Free Free Free
Newquay Free Free Free Free

*Drop off prices correct on 06/12/2018 subject to change.

*Manchester Airport does not permit waiting longer than 10 minutes.

*Gatwick, Heathrow and Jersey do not permit waiting.

How to prevent airport charges

The stats above are for taxi and private hire cabs and the rules and prices can change for those driving in a minibus, so make sure you check below under your airport to see any changes for minibus drivers. Most airports do offer a free drop off zone, but many of these aren’t directly outside the terminal, although they often provide a courtesy shuttle bus to the terminal for passengers. Many airports also offer free drop offs and pickups outside the terminal for passengers who hold a blue badge for a length of time.


Southend Airport

Southend controversially reduced its free 15-minute stay to just 5 minutes at the beginning of the year and charges the most for a 10-minute stay at £4.50. Although, £4.50 will cover you for up to an hour. If you park in the Long Stay 3 Car Park, the first 15 minutes are free.

 More information »

Manchester Airport

At Manchester, you’re not allowed to stay longer than 10 minutes when dropping off although picking someone up is slightly different. Passengers can be picked up in the arrivals and multi-storey car parks with a charge of £4.00 for half an hour. You can get a Private Hire Concession Card for £30.00 that can give you a saving of up to 40% on forecourt and car parking costs by completing an application form. With the card, the charges are as follows:

  • Forecourts – £1.80 for 5 minutes, £2.40 for 10 minutes and £25.00 for anything after this.
  • Multi Storey – £2.40 for 30 minutes, £3.80 for 60 minutes and £5.70 for 2 hours You can also use the free drop off area that offers a courtesy shuttle bus to the terminal.

Manchester Airport has also stated that blue badge holders will be allowed to enter the forecourt areas free of charge, providing they (the passenger) produce their blue badge to the traffic marshals upon entering.

 More information »

Edinburgh Airport

Taxi drivers and minibus drivers can’t pick up outside the terminal, however, there is a dedicated pick-up zone on the ground floor of the Multi-storey Car Park outside the terminal. The prices for picking up are £4.00 for 15 minutes, £7.00 for 30 minutes, and £10.00 for an hour. Passengers that are blue badge holders can park here for up to an hour for free. To avoid the charges, there is a free drop off location at the Long Stay Car Park with a shuttle bus that comes every 10 minutes and is a 5 minute ride to the terminal.

More information »

Stansted Airport

Stansted charges £3.50 for the first 10 minutes and then £1 a minute after that up until 15 minutes, so for a 12-minute stay you would only pay £5.50 and as mentioned earlier, £25.00 for half an hour. But beware, there’s a £20 charge if you re-enter within 30 minutes of the first time you entered. Drivers who are waiting and leaving their engines on face risk of a fine, with some receiving fines of up to £80.00 here so be careful not to leave your engine on if you’re picking someone up. There is a free facility located in the Mid Stay Car Park when you follow signs for ‘Free Set Down’ which offers up to an hour stay for free.

More information »

Luton Airport

Dropping off at the terminal in Luton is £3.00 for the first 10 minutes and £1.00 per minute thereafter. There are two options if you want to avoid the charges. The Mid-term Car Park is free for 15 minutes with a free 5-minute shuttle bus ride to the terminal available every 12 minutes. The Long-term Car Park is slightly further away and takes 10 minutes to get there on the shuttle bus, which is every 15 minutes, although this is free for up to 2 hours.

More information » 


Liverpool Airport

£3.00 gets you up to 20 minutes at the terminal and after that, it’s £10.00 which will cover you for an hour. If you’re a blue badge holder you can park for free for a period of up to 40 minutes at the terminal in a designated space. Drop Off 2 Car Park allows for up to 40 minutes free of charge and is around a 7-minute walk to the terminal.

More information »

Bournemouth Airport

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any free alternatives for Bournemouth.

More information »

Leeds Bradford Airport

You get up to 30 minutes for your £3.00 however this is tripled to £9.00 if you go over this and the charge will apply for an hour stay. After your first hour, the price will be charged at £9.00 per hour thereafter. Minibuses (9 seats and under) however will pay £8.00 for the first half an hour and £16.00 if they go over this. Minibuses that have 10 seats or more will be charged £10.00 for the first 30 minutes and £20.00 for 30-60 minutes (and £20.00 per hour after that). The One Hour Free Parking Zone at Leeds Bradford does exactly what it says on the tin. It is around a four-minute walk to the terminal and a godsend if you’re driving a minibus.

 More information »


Newcastle Airport

At Newcastle, you’ll pay £3.00 for up to half an hour or £4.50 for anything after this for up to 45 minutes and £6.00 after that for anything up to an hour. This works out at £1.00 for every 10 minutes, however, after this you’ll be charged £6.00 an hour. Minibuses, however, will pay £2.50 for up to 15 minutes, £3.60 for up to half an hour, £4.90 for up to 45 minutes and £5.90 an hour. You can save on this by dropping off at the Medium Stay Car Park, which is a 3-minute walk to the terminal and is free for up to 15 minutes. Although it is reported that drop off prices are set to double from January 2019.

More information »

East Midlands Airport

The rapid drop off at East Midlands is £2.00 for the first 10 minutes and £1.00 a minute thereafter, so if you were there for 11 minutes it would cost you £3.00 rather than £7.00. If your passengers are Blue badge holders, they will be allowed 30 minutes free parking outside the terminal. The Long Stay 1 car park allows you to park free of charge for up to an hour and has a shuttle bus that takes just 5 minutes to get to the terminal.

More information »

Birmingham Airport

A handy tip for dropping off or picking up at Birmingham is to use the 20-minute free parking at Birmingham International train station. From here, your passengers can catch the Sky Train which takes less than 2 minutes to get to the airport. If your passengers are blue badge holders, you can park outside of the terminal for up to an hour for free, otherwise, the Birmingham Airport Drop Off car park allows a free 30-minute stay and a free shuttle bus to the terminal.

More information »

Glasgow Airport

The Long-Stay Car Park is free for up to 30 minutes which is just a 5-minute shuttle bus ride to the terminal that comes every 15 minutes. Blue Badge passengers are advised to use Car Park 2 which is opposite the terminal building and will entitle them to up to 30 minutes free parking.

More information »


Aberdeen International Airport

If your passengers are blue badge holders, you can park within the designated blue spaces in the Short Stay car park for up to 30 minutes for free. The Long Stay car park offers free parking for up to 15 minutes that includes a free shuttle bus to the terminal.

More information »

Doncaster Sheffield Airport

The short stay car park allows for up to 15 minutes free parking which is just a short walk to the terminal, we couldn’t find any free alternatives that provide longer.

More information »

Glasgow Prestwick Airport

Glasgow Prestwick has a train station pretty much next door to it, so many passengers look to get the train. Unfortunately, there is no train station car park you can park in and there aren’t currently any nearby alternatives that we could find.

More information »

Southampton Airport

Southampton airport is situated nearby Parkway Train Station and is just a short walk to the terminal, so this would be a good option if you arrange with your passengers to meet there. Alternatively, there is a free pick-up and drop-off area that offers half an hour of free parking and is just 5 minutes away on the free shuttle bus that runs every ten minutes.

More information »

Belfast International Airport

The £5.00 you pay will be will get you up to an hour in the drop off zone right by the terminal, but anything longer than an hour you will see you charged £35.00 which will allow you to stay for up to 24 hours. The long stay carpark (behind The Maldron Hotel) offers a 15-minute grace period and is about a 6-minute walk for passengers to the terminal.

More information »


Bristol Airport

Unfortunately, there aren’t any free alternatives but just make sure you’re not over 10 minutes as anything after this will cost you £3.00. If you’re picking up, you can stop off for refreshments (non-alcoholic of course!) at the local pub; the Airport Tavern and request that your passengers ring you when they’re ready, to avoid a lengthy wait as it’s just a short drive to the terminal. Bristol does, however, offer a free 30 minutes dropping off for blue badge holders (passengers).

More information »

Exeter Airport

Car Park 4 gives you 10 minutes for free parking and offers a free shuttle bus to the terminal that takes around 5 minutes. You can also apply for a frequent user discount card at the Customer Service Office in Car Park 2. This will give you discount in Car Park 1 which is just 50 yards away from the terminal.

More information »

Isle of Man

Unfortunately, we were unable to find a free alternative in the Isle of Man.

More information »

Cardiff Airport

Cardiff airport allows up to ten minutes free outside the terminal and £5 for every 10 minutes that are exceeded on top of that. You can park in the Long Stay 1 car park, which offers a free shuttle bus to passengers, for up to 20 minutes with no charge but will be charged after this.

More information »


The designated drop off and pick up zone in the Short Stay car park is free for up to 10 minutes. After this, you’ll be charged £3.60 for up to an hour’s stay.

More information »


Norwich is free for up to half an hour and £2.30 after that for up to an hour’s stay.

More information »

Gatwick Airport

You are allowed to pick up and drop off passengers for free outside of the north or south terminal, however waiting is not permitted, and you must pick up passengers at the pick-up zone and drop off at the drop off zone or you could face a fine. The Short stay car park is £4.00 for up to 30 minutes and £8.00 for an hour. The long stay car park is free for up to 2 hours with a free shuttle bus to the terminal.

More information »


Heathrow Airport

Like Gatwick, Heathrow does not permit waiting but is free to drop off outside of the terminal. Picking up can be done at the short stay car park for those looking for convenience as it is right beside the terminal. This convenience will cost you £4.00 for up to half an hour and £7.20 for an hour. Picking up or dropping off passengers at the Long Stay is free for up to 2 hours and comes with a shuttle bus to the terminal every ten minutes. If you’re going to be waiting a while for your passengers, you’re advised to wait in the Heathrow Authorised Vehicle Area, which is £1.00 per hour for the first five hours. This is a designated zone for taxis and private hire vehicles which has vending machines, toilets and a covered smoking area.

More information »

Jersey Airport

Jersey does not permit waiting for any length of time as vehicles may be towed away or fined. The pick-up zone allows for up to 10 minutes. Thereafter, it is 70p per hour.

More information »

Guernsey Airport

You can park at Guernsey for up to an hour for free. You’ll pay £3.00 for any longer than this for up to 2 hours and £4.00 for up to 6 hours.

More information »

London City

London City states that the only rules it has about dropping off are that cars must remain attended at all times and waiting on the forecourt next to the terminal building is not permitted. There is a designated Pick-up Zone which is £3.20 for up to 10 minutes, £7.50 for up to 30 minutes.

More information »


Newquay is free for up to half an hour, after this you are charged £2.00 for the full hour but we doubt you’ll need longer than this!

More information »

Do you have any other ways to avoid charges at the airports? Let us know on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

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