I never used to bother with luggage trolleys at airports. Wheel the suitcase, bag on the shoulder, job done. Then came kids…
Now a flight with the family requires pre-planning with military precision. And with two big suitcases, two car seats, a buggy, toddler’s Trunki and two pieces of cabin baggage to carry, at least one (and preferably two) trolleys are a necessity, not a luxury.
At some airports – for example Heathrow – this isn’t a problem, as trolleys are provided free of charge. But Luton Airport takes a different approach, demanding a non-refundable £2 ‘rental fee’.
Given the average person will use a trolley for perhaps half an hour while they check in or leave the airport, that’s pretty steep. In fact, by my calculations, it can actually be cheaper to rent a Mercedes than a trolley from Luton airport (no, really – £2 for half an hour works out at £96/day, one comparison site offered me a Mercedes C Class saloon for £70/day).
Of course, Luton Airport’s quite entitled to charge what it likes for trolleys, and it’s far from the only one to do so (Bristol Airport, for example, does likewise). But on a recent visit I found a couple of ways to beat or at least reduce the fee.
Getting a trolley at departures – how to pay nothing at all
If you’ve a few minutes to spare when you arrive at the airport, it’s possible to dodge the £2 charge altogether – but only if you’re travelling with someone else.
Leave them guarding your big pile of bags by the kerb, then walk into the terminal building towards the check-in desks.
There you’ll find a large number of trolleys which have been abandoned by the people who’ve paid for them, used them and ditched them as they head through to security.
Make sure a trolley’s genuinely no longer wanted by anyone else, of course, before you walk it back to your bags. But there are stacks of them there…
Getting a trolley at arrivals – how to cut the cost (a bit)
Flying back, it wasn’t as easy. Once we’d collected our mountain of luggage at baggage reclaim, there were no abandoned trolleys to be found so we had a stark choice – pay for a trolley, or shuttle it through customs in instalments.
We chose to pay. But if you do, it’s still possible to cut the cost a bit.
While most will pay in pounds, unsurprisingly, if you do have euros to hand it’s possible to pay €2 instead.
That’s not a huge saving – right now it takes the cost down to about £1.71 – but it’s a way to use up leftover coins and score a small saving at the same time.
You can do this at departures too, so if you don’t want to fetch an abandoned trolley but have some euros on you, at least you won’t have to pay full whack.
For more tips on cutting the cost of flying, see our Cheap Flights and Budget Flight Fee-Fighting guides. And please share any ways you’ve found to dodge extra costs at airports in the comments below.
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