Holiday Tips 1 – how to earn Avios and get the best deals on airport car parking

With the schools having broken up, over the next few days I will running updated versions of my annual travel planning series.  This will cover the best ways of earning or redeeming miles and points to get the best value from your Summer travel.

“How to get a discount on airport car parking” is a difficult and long-winded question, especially at Heathrow.  Luckily for me, the good people at have written a long article on the subject, which you can find here I can therefore focus on the ‘miles and points’ angles.

Earning and burning from official Heathrow Airport parking

The official Heathrow Airport car parks are certainly not the cheapest option but are certainly convenient.  Depending on your car park, you may even get to travel to Terminal 5 in the very cool driverless ‘pods’:

Heathrow pods

You can reduce what you pay for the official Heathrow car parks by redeeming Heathrow Rewards points.

The rate is a £10 voucher for every 500 points you redeem.  This is a very good deal, because the alternative would be receiving 500 Avios – and I certainly don’t value an Avios point at 2p – or a £5 shopping voucher.

You can also earn points with Heathrow Rewards when you book the ‘official’ Heathrow car parks, at the rate of 1 point for every £1 spent.  The website for the official Heathrow car parks is here.

Earning Avios from offsite airport parking

You will usually save money by parking at an unofficial car park near an airport, although the trade off is a longer transfer time to and from the terminal.

Holiday Extras is the British Airways Executive Club partner and you earn 5 Avios per £1 when you book via  Their home page for these offers is here. also offers a range of airport hotels which offer inclusive parking.  You will also earn 5 Avios per £1 when you book these.

American Express is currently offering 15% cashback on any Holiday Extras purchase.  To see if your card qualifies, log in to your account and look under ‘Your Offers’ on the statement page.  If you have an MBNA, Barclays or TSB Amex, you can register it via Amex Connect here.  The deals runs to 2nd October.


Using Clubcard vouchers for offsite airport parking

Tesco Clubcard has a partnership with airport parking group APH.  You can see details of the deal here.

You receive 2 x the face value of your Clubcard vouchers if you redeem them for APH parking.  You need to be booking for a minimum of eight days in order to use vouchers.

Do a one-way car rental to the airport for just £1!

As I outlined in this articleEuropcar is offering one-way UK car rentals for a flat fee of £1, including basic insurance.  Most of these are to or from major airports, in particular Heathrow.

This is not a marketing ploy.  The company is trying to save itself money by using you as free labour to get cars back to their original location or to re-allocate vehicles across sites.  Why pay a truck to haul a vehicle across the country when you can find someone willing to pay you £1 for the privilege?!  The Europcar £1 rental page is here.

Earning hotel points with ‘hotel and parking’ packages

I wrote an article last year on the semi-secret ‘park and fly’ rates offered by IHG Rewards Club via a little-known corner of their website.  This is worth a look.  You may find that you can book a hotel room for the night before plus solve your parking problem for less than the cost of an official car park.

The benefit of booking an ‘official’ IHG package rather than using a consolidator like Holiday Extras is that you will earn IHG points for your stay and your elite benefits should be provided if you have status.

The other Heathrow hotels may also offer similar packages depending on how busy they are.

Staying at the Heathrow Thistle for a quick pod transfer

If you are flying out of Terminal 5 at Heathrow, take a look at the Thistle hotel.

This is, frankly, not the most modern of hotels.  The reason to book a ‘park and fly’ package here is that you can use the driverless pods to reach Terminal 5 as they operate from the official car park behind the hotel.  There is a £5 per person charge for this but it makes for a fun and trouble-free start to your holiday.

Get an ‘under the carpet’ deal at one of the Heathrow hotels!

Many of the hotels at Heathrow sell their parking spaces – with no obligation to book a room – via the JustPark website.

If you want a really cheap deal, there are also private individuals on JustPark who rent out their driveways!  Most live inside the ‘free Heathrow bus travel zone’ so you won’t have to pay to get to or from the airport – although you will have to take your luggage on a standard bus.

I wrote a full overview of JustPark in this article.  American Express is offering some cardholders a £5 rebate on a £10 JustPark spend before 31st August – check your online Amex account to see if you can register.  This deal is not available to MBNA, Barclays or TSB Amex cardholders.


There is no simple answer to the cheapest airport parking at Heathrow, or elsewhere in the UK. It is all about the trade off between the distance from the airport and the price you want to pay. If you would need a hotel the night before anyway, then a ‘hotel plus parking’ package is probably your best option – but remember that these packages, unless booked direct, are unlikely to earn hotel points or give you elite status benefits.

If you are price conscious, then don’t be distracted by the Avios points on offer from various operators. Focus on the bottom line price.  If you are spending your employers money, or are not price sensitive, there are numerous opportunities to earn Avios or Heathrow Rewards from the pricier, more convenient parking options.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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  1. I have tried them all….now I go for the heathrow longstay on airport parking for t5 and t4…transfers take 5mins plus I earn double lhr points for having spent something like £3k on ‘stuff’ as I pass through using/earning avios !

    The other gem is the hilton garden inn.. a short walk frim Hatton cross tube

    • Andrew H says:

      There’s a free bus outside as well but no one ever mentions that :)

      • Free fro HGI? I’ve only seen them try and flog tickets for the Hoppa!

        • Andrew H says:

          It exists, I’ve used it myself! Bus 285 departs from Heathrow Central bus station, goes east along Bath Road, and turns right down the airport perimeter road, right past the Garden Inn, where there is a bus stop. It also stops at Hatton Cross..

          It’s useful if you’re arriving into Heathrow and want to travel free. If you’re going towards Heathrow, it’s better to get off the tube at Hatton Cross and walk it.

  2. F1Flyer says:

    The Virgin Shops Away portal also gives you 6 points per £ for Heathrow Parking.

  3. I usually book purple meet and greet for a 3 week trip every August. Prices have risen year on year and the obscene HAL has doubled in around 4 years. Sadly purple and others have dramatically increased prices this year and I have seen prices double that of the same period last year. This may explain yesterday’s email offering bigger than usual reductions but at £170 it really is now cheaper to get executive cars to and from the airport.
    Chasing avois or rewards is one thing but bottom line is that from where I live a taxi wins hands down.

    • You’re paying over the top for PP. Are you using codes RAC/ NHS? There’s also a membership deal. There’s also a Virgin Atlantic portal with excellent rates. Compare & contrast all these.

      Or find parking through Holiday Extras via the Amex statement credit 15% + – you double up to get both discounts.

      DriveFly meet & greet 15% off turns into 31% off if you go to payments & leave it idle for an hour then go back & try again same dates.

      Target about £4 a day even in August (net cost).

  4. Can you book hotel parking with a stay at the return end? I would have liked to stay at LHR after a late return, but couldn’t find any way to organise the stay at the end of the parking period.

    • Holiday Extras seem to let you when I booked through them once. Not sure if it’s possible via the IHG offer, perhaps a phone call needed

  5. Jovanna says:

    What’s to stop you from just walking through the Thistle hotel and using a pod at the Pod Parking?

    • lack of chutzpah?

    • I think you have to get a code to call the pod, which you get from reception after you pay £5 per person. Maybe you can pay for one then put the whole family in? Haven’t tried it yet but thinking ahead for August

      • There is a gate between the hotel and car park which requires a PIN. The PIN costs you £5! Either that or reception needs to buzz the gate open.

    • You need a code to get through the gate between the hotel carpark & the pod carpark.

      If you are fortunate enough to time it as someone else is going through the gate you could avoid having to buy a code but that would require you hanging around the gate for as long as it takes to shadow someone through, and after a while the hotel would notice you loitering!

      You could pay for one person and everyone else go through the gate behind them but I don’t know if the hotel would challenge why you had a room for 4 & only one person was going to want to use the pod. (No code is needed for the pod itself, only the gate between the carparks.)

    • Genghis says:

      As everyone mentions, there’s a gate with a code. However, it’s possible to jump over.

      • Really?!?

        I’m pretty sure when I used it earlier this year the gate was far too high to jump over!

        • That depend whether you’re a Russian athlete specialising in pole vaulting without a pole!

      • Need to see pics of this :)

        • Must admit I have jumped over the barriers at motorway services in Germany/ Austria! You buy their fuel and then they want money out of you to take a pitstop! Taking the, what’s the word?, mickey I guess :)

          • Genghis says:

            I’d like to clarify. It was a friend who’s really leggy that jumped the fence a few years ago after we refused to pay the £5ea. I couldn’t make it with my short stumpy legs so walked (a good 15-20 mins) the long way round to the pods.

  6. Had this site recommended for Edinburgh…

    • Plane Parking are fine, best deals lately have been on Holiday Extras however if you have trips planned well in advance it’s worth keeping an eye on the airports own website or sign up for their newsletter. I’ve had 2 15 night valet parking at Edinburgh the last 2 years for my summer holiday for £50 – £55

  7. I am picking my partner up from LHR a week today and you can park in the long stay car park for free for 2 hours – they give you a mini bus ride back to and from the car park :)

    Cannot beat this, in LBA you have to pay to pick someone up!

    • Most hotels will let you park without staying at the hotel that are not listed on JustPark, some for a reasonable price which when combined with the free bus service where possible it makes stays less than a week cost effective.

      • I did Just Park at the Premier Inn T5 last week. Cheap and ideal for my needs (solo traveller, HBO).

        2 stops on the 423 to T5. Could even walk it for the exercise!

  8. jlrichards says:

    Out of interest, is the Thistle amenable to people paying the £5 fee to use the Pod even if not staying at the Thistle?

    It’s quite close to the other Bath Road hotels, and often doesn’t have the best rate.


  9. I recently took up the offer of £1 car hire by Europcar from Birmingham Airport to Heathrow.
    My flight being an evening flight I took the train to Birmingham at lunchtime, picked up the car and had a leisurely drive to Heathrow. Pick up and drop off was extremely efficient. Would highly recommend this.

    • Sean, you got the train from London to Birmingham, to hire a car for £1, to drive yourself to Heathrow ??? what did that save you over a cab straight to Heathrow?!

      • Genghis says:

        Or even the Tube given Sean has taken his luggage to Euston and has then taken it from the station to the Europcar collection point.

      • You are assuming Sean started in London.Have you considered that Sean started from somewhere near Birmingham?

      • No I live in Stafford, 30 mins north of Birmingham. Wife was working in London that day and had my luggage so just had to get myself down there

  10. Russell says:

    Ah balls – I didn’t know I could earn BAEC points with Holiday Extras! I’ve spent loads with them in the past!

  11. had an email 2 weeks ago from amex about adding a supplementary card holder and getting 5,000 reward points , not received my points yet , has anyone else received there’s if they got the same deal as me via email ?

  12. I really tried your trick but for the life of me can’t get the 31%. Is this dependant on time you want parking for? Looking at next week….
    Have other people reproduced it so close to your dates?

    Also I found other MSE promos cheaper for meet and greet even factoring in Amex credit

    • to get 31% you do the basic stuff as above – DF probably shows 15% discount on the HEx site at this stage

      go through to payment, don’t pay, leave it idle for an hour

      press back, input your details again, should show 31% discount