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Airports hike 'kiss and fly' charges to as much as £7 for a five-minute drop-off – how to beat them

Seven major airports across the UK upped the cost of dropping off passengers over the last year, a MoneySavingExpert investigation reveals – and five now charge a whopping £6 or more to let someone out at the kerb. But at most airports it's possible to beat the fees and take someone to the terminal free if you know where to go – we've full airport-by-airport help below.

Since we last ran this investigation in July 2023, Gatwick has hiked its charge from £5 to £6 for 10 minutes. A goodbye peck-on-the-cheek at Bristol airport will now cost you a minimum of £6, up from £5. Dropping off a relative at Birmingham Airport now costs £5 instead of £4.

The highest initial charge we found was Stansted at £7 for drop-offs of up to 15 minutes, followed by Leeds Bradford at £6.50. A few airports still don't charge, including London City and Newquay. 

Which airports have increased prices?

Here are the airports we found have raised prices since we last collected data in July 2023:

  • Aberdeen Airport has hiked the price of a 15-minute stay from £5 to £5.50.

  • Birmingham Airport has hiked its drop-off fee for a ten-minute stay from £4 to £5.

  • Bristol Airport. The minimum charge was £5 for up to 10 minutes. This is now £6.

  • Gatwick Airport has increased the price of drop-offs of up to 10 minutes from £5 to £6.

  • Glasgow Airport has hiked the cost of an up to 15-minute drop-off from £5 to £5.50.

  • Glasgow Prestwick now charges £4 for up to an hour's wait, up from £3.50.

  • Leeds Bradford has upped the cost of an up to 10-minute drop-off from £6 to £6.50, making it second most expensive after Stansted at £7.

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

Oli Townsend, assistant deals editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, 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

AIRPORT CHARGE FOR 5 MINS CHARGE FOR 10 MINS CHARGE FOR 30 MINS
Aberdeen £5.50 £5.50 £20.50
Belfast City £3 £3 £18
Belfast International £3 £5 £10
Birmingham £5 £5 £20
Bournemouth £5 £5 £5
Bristol £6 £8 £12
Cardiff Free £3 £15
East Midlands £5 £5 £20
Edinburgh £5 £6 £26
Exeter £5 £5 £5
Gatwick £6 £6 £25
Glasgow £5.50 £5.50 £20.50
Glasgow Prestwick £4 £4 £4
Guernsey Free for up to 30 minutes
Heathrow £5 (no waiting allowed)
Inverness Free Free £3.50
Isle of Man Free to drop off (but no waiting allowed) 
Jersey Free to drop off (but no waiting allowed) 
Leeds Bradford £6.50 £6.50 £12
Liverpool £5 £5 £25
London City Free to drop off (but no waiting allowed) 
Luton (1) (1) (1)
Manchester £5 £6 £25
Newcastle £4 £7 £7
Newquay Free for an up to 10-minute drop-off
Norwich £5 £5 £5
Southend £5 £5 £12
Southampton £6 £6 N/A (2)
Stansted £7 £7 £25

(1) Following a fire, Luton's drop-off area is currently in the midstay car park, which is free for 30 minutes. (2) 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.

Many airports have additional free options for blue-badge holders or electric-vehicle drivers, so it's worth checking their websites if that's you. 

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 one hour, and there's a free shuttle bus to the terminal. 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 10 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 news@moneysavingexpert.com.

  • 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 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 news@moneysavingexpert.com. 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. You can drop-off for free (up to two hours) in its long-stay car parks. Free shuttle buses take 10 to 20 minutes to reach the North Terminal and 7 to 12 minutes to reach the South Terminal. Alternatively, MoneySaver Tony suggests getting dropped off at the Gatwick Hilton, as you can walk through reception and straight into the South Terminal (we have not tried this ourselves though). 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 one hour. 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 news@moneysavingexpert.com.

  • 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. Following a fire, Luton's drop-off area is currently in the midstay car park, which is free for 20 minutes. 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 some MoneySavers recommended walking from the nearby McDonalds or Holiday Inn on Delft Way (we have not tried this ourselves though). Let us know if you know of any other options by emailing news@moneysavingexpert.com

  • Southend. Its long-stay 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 news@moneysavingexpert.com. 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 that 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:

  • Birmingham City Airport spokesperson told us: "Birmingham Airport and NCP, who manage our car parks, regularly review and benchmark prices with alternative providers. We offer a free drop off car park for our customers, with up to ten minutes free parking.  This car park is a short walk from the terminal, ensuring ease and convenience."

  • A Bristol Airport spokesperson said: "Customers have a choice of other car parking options, including a free one-hour waiting zone.  The Airport is currently building a £60million Public Transport Interchange and car park opposite our terminal, which will include a new ‘Drop and Go’ zone and a new road layout. This will open in summer 2025 and will enhance services and accessibility for customers."

  • A Leeds Bradford Airport spokesperson told us: "Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) continues to maintain its free one-hour zone, in close walking distance to the terminal building. LBA continues to offer one-hour free parking for customers in full electric vehicles to encourage carbon free travel. LBA’s pricing remains competitive with UK regional airports."

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