Two-thirds of UK airports have increased their drop-off parking charges post-pandemic, according to research by the RAC. The motoring organisation’s study of the 21 busiest airports in the country found just a handful of major UK airports had kept their fees the same since 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Unsurprisingly, some of London’s airports lead the way in terms of pricing, with Stansted charging an initial feel of £7 for 15 minutes’ parking – a figure that rose from £4 for 10 minutes in the summer of 2019. London Luton, meanwhile, has increased its drop-off charges from £4 for 13 minutes in 2019 to £5 for 10 minutes now. Heathrow and Gatwick both charge drivers £5 for dropping passengers off.

But airports in the south-east of England are far from the only offenders. Manchester Airport used to charge £3 for five minutes in 2019, but has since increased that to £5, while nearby Liverpool John Lennon Airport has raised its fees from £3 for 20 minutes to £4 for 10 minutes. Similarly, Bristol Airport and East Midlands Airport have both increased their charges to £5 for 10 and 15 minutes respectively. Bristol Airport was previously charging just £1 for 10 minutes in 2019.

Man looking for car in airport parking

In Scotland, meanwhile, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow’s airports have all doubled their drop-off fees to £4 for 10 minutes. But Belfast International Airport and Birmingham Airport have both maintained their prices since 2019, while drop-off areas remain free at Cardiff, London City and Belfast City airports.

“Anyone dropping a loved one off at the terminal this summer will be stunned by some of these sky-high ‘kiss and drop’ charges,” said the RAC’s head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes. “And for those using the UK’s two busiest airports, the luxury of free drop-offs outside the terminal building has been replaced by some pretty high fees. Minute-for-minute and pound-for-pound, some of these charges could almost be as high as the airfare itself.

“While airports have had a turbulent couple of years with the pandemic, it very much looks like they have put up drop-off fees to partially make up for two years of lost revenue. Drop-off charges were meant to encourage travellers to use public transport to get to the airport, but with strikes impacting the rail network this summer and public transport options being limited at some airports, people will understandably seek more reliable ways to get to the terminal and that usually means asking a friend or relative to give them a lift.

The increase in drop-off fees, combined with high fuel prices, means taking loved-ones to the airport this summer is more expensive than ever.”

Boeing 777 overflying car park at Heathrow Airport London