With the schools breaking up, I am currently 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. Part 1, on earning Avios and miles from car rentals, is here.
“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 moneysavingexpert.com 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’:
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, convertible to Avios or various other airlines, 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.
How to use the official Heathrow car parks for less
Heathrow Airport owns another low-key parking company called Good To Go Parking. This sells parking at Heathrow at discounted prices as long as you stay a Saturday night.
Whilst the Good To Go website isn’t very clear about where you will be parking, you will actually be in the official airport-owned car parks.
Do check the official Heathrow parking site too, however, as on odd occasions it can be cheaper.
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 ba.com. Their home page for these offers is here.
ba.com also offers a range of airport hotels which offer inclusive parking. You will also earn 5 Avios per £1 when you book these.
Earn Virgin Flying Club miles from offsite airport parking
Virgin Flying Club has a partnership with Purple Parking. Full details are on the Virgin site here.
Purple Parking offers the option of a ‘meet and greet’ service. They will collect your car at the terminal and bring it back on your return. All Flying Club members get a discount – even those on the free Red level – and you will earn 250 to 850 miles depending on what service you book.
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!
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.
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.