Airport Parking (groan)

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Airport Parking

Airport Parking is one of those hidden costs and hassles of a holiday, one of the reasons we end up getting home tired. It’s not that it’s particularly difficult, but lugging suitcases around car parks in the cold (and sometimes rain) when you’ve got your plane/arrival clothes on is just a bit of a pain.

I know we’re lucky to have a foreign holiday – didn’t think we’d get one this year, but a last-minute window came up and….well you know the rest. So I hope you don’t mind me whinging a little about airport parking.

Earlier this year, for instance, we went to see our lovely friends in Edinburgh (*wave* to Canvas Holidays, who spoiled us rotten for a weekend) and we flew from Southampton. Parking there is painful, perhaps because the train station is so close to the airport. It’s expensive and the transport back to the terminal was a bit …erratic. Not an experience I’ll be looking to repeat any time soon.

This time we were flying from Gatwick, and I was worried it wasn’t going to be any better, but we had a few choices.  And then in a stroke of coincidence that actually made me laugh out loud, I got an email asking if I wanted to review FHR and their airport parking service.  They would give me a credit, I would book it and tell you about it.   The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

After looking at their website we picked the meet and greet option and booked it almost immediately.   The process couldn’t have been more straightforward.   Plenty of emails confirming the booking, and tell us where to head to at the airport.

I have to say it was the most painless departure we’ve ever had.

You turn up, call them when you leave the M23 and someone is waiting in the designated car park spot (clearly signposted) with a camera to take a few snaps of the condition of your car and then you walk one way, they drive another.  They even offered to wash it for us, inside and out during its stay, for an extra £25.   We declined but it is a great idea.

And. That’s. It.

Five minutes later we were at the check in desk (“ridiculously early” according to Mr B), ten minutes after that we had found a nice table in the Wetherspoons’s pub (with a power socket, obviously!) and were having breakfast. The whole experience was just stress-free.

Ok, there’s a slight nagging doubt about handing your car over to a (very nice) random stranger in a car park, but I park every day and people could bash the car, and they have insurance, and it’s what they do for a living.  The fact they had taken photos of the car on departure gives us peace of mind, and to be honest them too.

So far, so stress-free.

(Insert two weeks on holiday. Hic. Long flight home.)

This part of the holiday normally includes grumpiness as everyone is tired, a bit grouchy and we all just Want. To. Be. Home.   Generally it is 6am and we have arrived at Gatwick after an eight hour overnight flight.  Left 30+ degrees behind and arrived in what feels like -10.

The pickup was equally stress-free. We turned up fairly tired but rang the office from baggage reclaim and returned to the same spot where our car arrived shortly afterwards.

A quick check on the condition of the car (for their benefit more than mine, to protect them against unscrupulous complaints) and we were on our way. No waiting for the bus, no lugging cases on to the bus, no stabby “how long does it take you to get off the bus???” moments when my darling fellow passengers disembark at the stop before mine, no “where-did-I-actually-park?” moment.

I know this is a line that I’ve nicked but….isn’t it great when things just work? This just works.

Two weeks parking, including the meet and greet option so we didn’t have to get that dreaded bus was £113.   I think that is a bargain quite honestly.   Especially when that parking at Southampton I mentioned was £58 for 48 hours.

So much so that we’ve already arranged it for our flights from Luton to France later this month.

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