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Gatwick Airport to introduce £5 charge to drop off passengers from 2021

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Gatwick Airport has announced that it will start charging for terminal drop-offs in 2021.

Any vehicles dropping off passengers directly outside either the North or South terminals will be charged a £5 fee for the privilege.

It now joins Stansted, Luton, Edinburgh, Manchester and many other regional airports in charging. London Heathrow is the notable outlier, with drop off and pick up free at all times.

On introduction it will also be one of the most expensive airport drop-off fees in the country, matching Stansted’s pricing.

If you want to park for free you can get up to two hours free parking in Gatwick’s long stay car parks, although you’ll have to hop on a (free) shuttle bus to the terminal.

Gatwick North Terminal

Gatwick is spinning this as a sustainable initiative to reduce traffic in and around the airport. Around 15% of all passengers currently get dropped off on the kerb and Gatwick is clearly hoping it can encourage more people to take the train.

It also suggests that any revenue generated will help the airport “recover and preserve jobs from the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.”

No date has yet been set for the launch of the charges, but look out for it in 2021.

Comments (67)

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  • Paul says:

    Heathrow has pick up fees! It just that they are hidden as you must park. You can risk it but the fines are hefty.

    As for Gatwick. I used it twice this year pre and post lockdown. Fair to say it’s a dump! South terminal was simply awful in February- a building site and dirty (but England is dirty period) while the north terminal in August was just unpleasant.

    A drop of fee is simply the airport shooting themselves in the foot

    • The real John says:

      They don’t want people waiting in cars or on the pavement in the drop off area. As long as you can time it perfectly there is no problem.

    • Rob says:

      Hilton has hidden fees, eg Uber adds on £5 which is passed to the airport.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Precisely – there’s a big difference between pick up and drop off, picking up is pretty well certain to require parking and waiting for whom ever you are collecting to be ready – whether you’re parking on site or offsite, you’re parking up somewhere. Whereas drop off, it really is in and out

      • Nick_C says:

        For me, and many others, picking up involves parking off site a ten minute drive away, waiting for the text to say “I’m Landside”, and then two minutes kerbside.

  • Phillip says:

    Strictly speaking Heathrow is free to drop off but pick up is not allowed – you are instructed to use the short stay car park for pick up which is chargeable. Granted, if you’re quick you can pick up at departures but there are clear signs about fines for picking up there.

    • Geoff says:

      But the long stay (LHR and LGW) is free for 2 hours which is fine for drop offs or pick ups. LGW long stay south is easily walkable too with light luggage.

      US airports solve the congestion problem by having cell-phone parking lots where you can wait until the person is outside the terminal and ready to be collected.

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    Nothing new, as Rhys says Edinburgh (Same owners as Gatwick?) and Glasgow have had these for years.

    Edinburgh has different fees for pick-up and drop off – always fun to see how they change things to “improve” the experience for the bottom line!

    But the UK’s worst is the Norwich Airport £10 Development Fee which passengers have to pay at a kiosk and then go through a turnstile to departures!

    No surprise that hasn’t caught on – I now go to Stansted and hire a car there!

    • Andrew says:

      Edinburgh is known to be very aggressive with monitoring pick-ups and drop-offs. Social media, is littered with angry content about the £100 invoices for picking up (cost £5) at the drop off (Cost £2).

      I haven’t been at EDI for 9 months but there were “mixed messages” around the airport signage.

      You are allowed to pick-up *and* drop off at the signposted “Free Drop off Zone”, but only allowed to drop-off in the “Charged Drop Off Zone”.

      For those who don’t know about it, the Free Drop off Zone is on the Eastfield Avenue Car Park (coming in, take a right at the old Stakis and over the tram tracks.) It’s approximately where the Covid Swabbing is being done at the moment.

      Free bus, but you can also walk it on foot, head towards the trams, then double back on yourself up the ramp. It’s signposted “Mid Stay”, but you can walk all the way through. There are several pedestrian gates through to the long stay.

      It’s a 500 metre walk, probably best done in daylight the first time you do it.

  • Valerie says:

    So how will this be policed and by whom and at what cost? If the idea is to reduce congestion on the roads, then direct rail facilities at reasonable prices would help (I wish!) if however, the idea is to reduce congestion at the terminals, maybe adopting Palma’s idea of putting up barriers might be better. (This allows about 5 mins free, thereafter charging – at least that could be self monitoring) but no – UK seems to think slapping on a charge and saying ‘suck it up’ is perfectly acceptable! – Public spirited UK?

    • Rhys says:

      Easily done with barriers and ANPR.

      • Goldmember says:

        The problem is there are plenty of legitimate reasons to be driving near to the south terminal without picking up/dropping off anyone. At South Terminal access to the Hilton, access to the railway station, BP garage, Mc Donald’s and KFC drive thru. Or at North Terminal access to Premier Inn, Hampton and Sofitel hotels. All of those establishments have connectivity or are a very short walk to arrivals/departures. McD’s and KFC already have ANPR in operation but I’d sooner buy a coffee and use their car park to drink it in while waiting for my Auntie Flo than pay a fiver for nothing.

    • Callum says:

      Gatwick has direct rail facilities at reasonable cost.

      Car emissions cause tens of thousands of early deaths every year in the UK, I’d argue you driving is far less “public spirited” than this change…

      • Doug M says:

        Now stop confusing people with facts. Cars are good, any cost to using a car bad.

      • Nick_C says:

        Gatwick has unreliable train services, and it’s cheaper to drive, even after paying £4 for the short stay car park.

        • Doug M says:

          How is it cheaper. What car is the comparison too, how unreliable are the trains. Assumes you have someone to drive you if you’re including drop-off fee. Certainly not cheaper for me to drive in my circumstances.

          • Nick_C says:

            When I lived in Worthing, I could drive to Gatwick in 45 minutes. 70 mile round trip, fuel cost for me would currently be £6.70 (economical car, 54 mpg).

            The train takes 54 minutes, plus waiting time, plus walking home from the station, and costs £14.70 one way (£13 if you have a railcard). Delays and cancellations can easily add another 15/30 minutes. Hence I would regularly drop my partner at or collect him from Gatwick by car. And he would get to sit down.

            When we were both flying, we would usually take a taxi as the trains were so unreliable.

        • Lady London says:

          You just try landing at Gatwick late in a Sunday night especially in winter. Rail services are always ****ed +p. The amazing thing is the parade of rotating excuses for this constantly being the case for years.

          Gatwick had improved a lot ftom being nearly as bad as Luton but it looks like Gatwick is going back to being a midden now.

      • AJA says:

        The thing is 15% of passengers being dropped off or picked up by car is misleading. How many cars are we talking given that most cars carry more than one passenger? And the rail option only really works if you’re anywhere near Victoria or one of the stations on the network that connect to Clapham Junction. Plus the emissions from the cars driving to the entrance are rather outweighed by the emissions of any aircraft airside. I always laugh how London’s Low Emissions zone starts at the LHR junction on the M4. Its rather like having a no pissing zone in a swimming pool. 🙂

        • ChrisC says:

          I point you in the direction of the rail network map

          There are one seat rides to Gatwick from a heck of a lot of places that don’t need to touch Victoria or Clapham Junction.

          For example you can get from Cambridge and other points north to Gatwick via Thameslink without touching Victoria or Clapham Junction.

          • Nick_C says:

            Not if you have a 7am flight.

            Not at the weekend, when you have to cross London by tube, adding half an hour to your journey.

            Even during the week, driving can be faster. It’s more reliable, and more comfortable. And for two or more people, it can be cheaper to drive and park at Gatwick for a week than to take the train.

  • Rhys says:

    You don’t need the press release to know that, it’s literally in the article!

  • Nick_C says:

    Currently, short stay parking is only £5 for 30 minutes at Gatwick.

    I’ve always dropped off at kerbside, but parked when picking up.

    • maccymac says:


    • Nick_C says:

      Typo: Currently, short stay parking is only £4 for 30 minutes at Gatwick.

      So less than the proposed fee for the new drop off / pick up zone

      • ChrisC says:

        But it’s free is you use the long stay car park for two hours which would enable you to help your passengers to the terminal and check-in and security and then get back to your car using the free bus rather than rapidly pushing them out at the kerb

        • Nick_C says:

          … adding up to 30 minutes to my passengers’ journey and an hour to mine. I value my time at more than £4 an hour.

          In theory, shuttle buses run every 10 to 12 minutes and take 7–12 minutes to reach the South Terminal. I used Gatwick Long Term Parking once. It took as long to get from Long Term Parking to the Terminal as it had taken to get from home to the parking lot. Never again. It was always taxis after that if we were both flying.

          • Lady London says:

            Long term parking buses unreliable and this adds to the stress getting an early morning flight. Plus theres never enough seating on them, I have a knee injury that means I cant rely on being able to stand o a jolting bus ride.

            This is an undisguised ripoff. There is no word about exempting the disabled (I’m not).

  • Aston100 says:

    Despite the outrage, most people who use LGW will continue to do so.
    You don’t always have a choice of airport.

    • Lady London says:

      Not using the UK would make more sense. I’m embarrassed to be British sometimes.

  • Ian says:

    A perfectly sensible initiative to help reduce the amount of traffic around the terminals. Gatwick has a comprehensive range of public transport options available so there really is little need for people to be travelling by car.

    • Saintly says:

      Spoken by someone that clearly lives nice and close by!
      Try living 90 miles from the airport, in Southampton and having a 7am flight, you’ll actually find the comprehensive range quickly diminishes to not a great deal.
      Bizarrely LGW is the better of the two airports but 2:30hrs and a train leaving a midnight is hardly comprehensive in my book, sadly most people will just pay this.

      Of course we’ll see in 2yrs time LGW claiming a 30% reduction in carbon emissions at the airport and that they’re well on their way to being carbon neutral…. all because the traffic is now moved further away!

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