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Airports hike fees to 'kiss and fly' by as much as two thirds - how to beat them

Many airports' fees to drop off passengers have soared by two thirds in the last year, and three airports now have a minimum charge of at least £6, a investigation reveals. But if you don't want to pay, most airports have free drop-off areas, often in long-stay car parks with shuttle buses running to the terminal – we've full airport-by-airport help below.

Since we last ran this investigation in May 2022, Belfast City has introduced charges to 'kiss and fly'. A further 11 have ramped up fees.

Belfast International has tripled its charge for a 10-minute drop-off from £1 to £3. Meanwhile, several airports have increased their charges by two thirds from £3 to £5, including Bournemouth, Exeter and Norwich.

The highest initial charge we found was Stansted at £7 for drop-offs of up to 15 minutes, followed by Leeds Bradford and Southampton at £6.

A few airports still don't charge, including London City and Newquay.

Which airports have introduced or increased prices?

Here are the airports we found have raised prices since we last collected data in May 2022:

  • Aberdeen Airport has hiked the price of a 10-minute stay from £4 to £5.

  • Belfast City Airport has introduced a drop-off charge. You'll now pay £3 for up to 10 minutes.

  • Belfast International Airport trebled its drop-off charge from £1 to £3 for the first ten minutes.

  • Birmingham Airport has hiked its drop-off fee for a ten-minute stay from £3 to £4.

  • Bournemouth Airport. The minimum charge was £3 for up to 30 minutes. This is now £5.

  • Edinburgh Airport. On 17 July 2023, the cost of a 10-minute drop off increased from £4 to £5. (This was after we did our initial research, but we've updated this with the latest info.)

  • Exeter Airport has increased the price of drop-offs of up to 30 minutes from £3 to £5.

  • Glasgow Airport has hiked the cost of a 10-minute drop-off from £4 to £5.

  • Glasgow Prestwick now charges £3.50 for up to an hour's wait, up from £3.

  • Leeds Bradford has upped the cost of an up to 10-minute drop-off from £5 to £6, making it joint-second most expensive with Southampton after Stansted which is £7.

  • Liverpool Airport, which previously charged £4 for up to 10 minutes, now charges £5. 

  • Norwich Airport has hiked the minimum charge for an up to 30-minute drop-off by two-thirds, from £3 to £5.

  • Southampton Airport has upped the cost of drop-offs of up to 20 minutes – they now cost £6, not £4.  

'Costs have soared – but there's usually no need to pay anything'

Oli Townsend, assistant deals & features editor at, said: "The cost of dropping people off at an airport has soared in the last few years. Many passengers will rightly be shocked when hit with a charge as much as £7 just to set someone down outside the terminal.

"But the good news is in most cases there's no need to pay anything when saying goodbye to family and friends, as almost all airports have a free area for drop-offs – as long as you're willing to take a short walk or shuttle ride to the terminal."

'Kiss and fly' drop-off charges at UK airports

Aberdeen £5 £5 £10
Belfast City £3 £3 N/A (1)
Belfast International £3 £3 £10
Birmingham £4 £4 £19
Bournemouth £5 £5 £5
Bristol £5 £5 £10
Cardiff Free £3 £15
East Midlands £5 £5 £20
Edinburgh £5 £5 £15
Exeter £5 £5 £5
Gatwick £5 £5 £25
Glasgow £5 £5 £15
Glasgow Prestwick £3.50 £3.50 £3.50
Guernsey Free for up to an hour
Heathrow £5 (no waiting allowed)
Inverness Free Free £2.50
Isle of Man Free Free Free (2)
Jersey Free to drop off (but no waiting allowed) 
Leeds Bradford £6 £6 £11
Liverpool £5 £5 £25
London City Free to drop off (but no waiting allowed)
Luton £5 £5 £25
Manchester £5 £6 £25
Newcastle £4 £4 £7
Newquay Free for an up to 10-minute drop-off
Norwich £5 £5 £5
Southend £5 £5 £8.50
Southampton £6 £6 N/A (3)
Stansted £7 £7 £25

(1) You're not allowed to wait longer than 10 minutes. (2) Free to drop off, but no waiting allowed. (3) You're not allowed to wait longer than 20 minutes.

How to avoid airports' 'kiss and fly' charges and drop off for free

Even if there's a charge to park right outside the terminal, most airports have an alternative free drop-off area. It's usually a little way away though and you may need to take a shuttle or walk for up to 15 minutes – not ideal if you or the person you're dropping off is dashing to make a flight, so always allow extra time for this option.

Don't just assume you can drive near to the terminal and drop off by the roadside – some airports have double red lines on approach roads and even cameras to catch you if you stop. Always be mindful of safety too when stopping.

Here's how to avoid paying at the 22 UK airports that charge:

  • Aberdeen. Its long-stay car park is free for up to 30 minutes, and there's a free shuttle bus to the terminal. Those with electric vehicles can drop off directly outside the terminal for free if they pre-register. See Aberdeen Airport info.

  • Belfast City. The long-stay car park is free for up to 10 minutes. It's a 10-minute walk from the terminal. See Belfast City info.

  • Belfast International. Its long-stay car park is free for up to 15 minutes, and a six-minute walk from the terminal. See Belfast International info.

  • Birmingham. While the airport charges for its 'premium set down' area, its drop-off zone is free for up to 20 minutes. It's a 10-minute walk from the terminal or a free bus service runs every 15 minutes. See Birmingham Airport info.

  • Bournemouth. Unfortunately we can't find a free option here – let us know if you know of one in the comments or by emailing

  • Bristol. There's a free one-hour waiting zone by the 'Silver Zone' car park to the south of the terminal, with frequent buses to the terminal. See Bristol Airport info.

  • East Midlands. Its 'Long-stay 2' car park is free for up to an hour. It's a 15-minute walk to the terminal or a bus gets you there in two minutes. See East Midlands Airport info.

  • Edinburgh. Its long-stay car park is free for up to 30 minutes. It's an 10-minute walk to the terminal. See Edinburgh Airport info.

  • Exeter. Unfortunately we can't find an official free option here – let us know if you know of one in the comments or by emailing While we've not tried this ourselves, one MoneySaver reported that they were able to walk easily from Exeter Airport Business Park to the terminal. See Exeter Airport info.

  • Gatwick. Free drop-offs are available in its long-stay car parks with free shuttle buses. It takes 10 to 20 minutes to reach the North Terminal and 7 to 12 minutes to reach the South Terminal. Buses run every 10 to 12 minutes. See Gatwick Airport info.

  • Glasgow. Pull into its Long-stay car park and you can stay for free for up to 30 minutes. It's an eight-minute walk to the terminal, or there's a free shuttle bus. See Glasgow Airport info.

  • Glasgow Prestwick. Unfortunately we can't find a free option here – let us know if you know of one in the comments or by emailing

  • Heathrow. Drop-offs of up to 30 minutes are free in Heathrow's various long-stay car parks for the different terminals. Passengers can take a free bus transfer to the terminal.

  • Leeds Bradford. There's a one-hour free parking zone, which is a three to four-minute walk to the terminal. See Leeds Bradford Airport info.

  • Liverpool. Its 'Drop Off 2' car park is free for up to 40 minutes and is a five to 10-minute walk to the terminal. See Liverpool Airport info.

  • Luton. Its Mid Stay Car Park is free for up to 15 minutes. It's a 10 to 15-minute walk to the terminal. Alternatively, its Long Stay Car Park is free for one hour, with shuttle buses running every 20 minutes. See Luton Airport's free drop-offs.

  • Manchester. There's a free drop-off area, which is five-minute shuttle ride away from the terminal. See Manchester Airport info.

  • Newcastle. Its 'Short Stay 2' car park is free for up to 15 minutes, and is a short walk to the terminal. See Newcastle Airport info.

  • Norwich. Unfortunately we can't find an official free option here, though one MoneySaver recommended walking from the nearby McDonalds on Delft Way (we have not tried this ourselves though). Let us know if you know of any other options by emailing

  • Southend. Its 'Long Stay 3' car park is free for up to 15 minutes and is a four-minute walk from the terminal. See Southend Airport info.

  • Southampton. Its long-stay car park was free for up to 30 minutes, but unfortunately it's currently closed. MoneySavers report that you can drop off for free at Southampton Airport Parkway rail station, then it's a short walk to the airport from there. Please let us know if you spot another way to drop off for free by emailing See Southampton Airport info.

  • Stansted. Its mid-stay car park is free for an hour. There's a free shuttle bus every 10 minutes, which takes seven minutes to get to the terminal. See Stansted Airport info.

What do the airports say?

Airports which had changed their prices usually told us they had done so to reduce traffic outside the airport or due to increased operational costs – and in most cases, stressed that passengers do have other options to park for free.

Here are a few of the specific comments we had:

  • A Belfast International Airport spokesperson said: "The tariff for dropping off outside the terminal building will be used to improve and enhance the terminal facilities for passengers. Belfast International Airport provides a 15-minute free drop-off area in the long-stay car park and has now introduced 30 minutes free for blue badge holders."

  • An Birmingham City Airport spokesperson told us: "Our car park directly in front of our terminal is priced in a way which allows our passengers sufficient time to benefit from its convenience while encouraging them to move swiftly on, keeping it clear for other customers. Alternatively, our drop-off car park offers 20 minutes free of charge."

  • A Leeds Bradford Airport spokesperson told us: "Drop-off car park prices increased in March. The one-hour free parking zone will remain available and the drop-off area will remain free to electric vehicles for up to one hour. These prices remain competitive with other UK airports."

  • A spokesperson from Liverpool Airport said: "Whilst we continue to recover from the significant impact on our business of the pandemic, it has been necessary to review charges across all our car parks, including express drop-off. Charges were last increased in July 2020. We have continued to offer passengers the option of free parking for up to 40 minutes in our Drop Off 2 car park, which is a short walk to the terminal."

  • A Southampton Airport spokesperson told us: "Passengers using the drop-off facility will now pay £6 for 20 minutes. No changes are being made for blue badge holders, who continue to be entitled to a 30-minutes free in Short Stay. Funds generated through our parking services play an important role in supporting the airport’s operational costs, which have increased significantly."

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