Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Heathrow Airport’s £5 drop-off and taxi fee starts in October

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

Heathrow has confirmed that the £5 ‘Forecourt Access Charge’ will launch in October.

This was announced as a speculative idea late last year, impacting everyone wishing to drop off or pick up passengers by car. Taxis would be included.

On 8th March, Gatwick Airport launched its own £5 drop off fee. It was virtually certain from that point that Heathrow would follow.

Heathrow £5 drop-off fee 'confirmed' for October

At £5 Heathrow and Gatwick will have the second-highest drop off charges in the UK. Stansted remains the leader, charging £7.

The scheme will be enforced using Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras. The charge will be paid online, via mobile phone or by an automated telephone service. ‘Blue Badge’ and emergency vehicles will be exempt.

The Forecourt Access Charge (FAC) replaces the Heathrow Ultra Low Emissions Zone first touted in 2019 and which would have put a heavy charge on the most polluting vehicles which use the airport. Heathrow has effectively replaced a scheme with genuine environmental benefits with a simple money grab.

One option to avoid paying the fee if arriving by car will a drop off in one of the long stay car parks and travel to the terminal via a free shuttle bus.

This Daily Mail article calculates that, even with a decline in car use to Heathrow due to the fee and covid recovery, the charge could still generate £100 million per year.

You can find out more on this page of the Heathrow website.

Comments (123)

  • A says:

    Yet again completely screwing those who live outside of London, particularly those west of heathrow.
    It is drop off by car, or Worst Late Western to paddington, only to turn around and get the HEx back the direction you came.
    There is no viable alternative to the car for many.

    • Andrew says:

      Has the Rail-Air link from Reading & Guildford ended?

      The Reading one was really popular when I used to use it.

    • Lady London says:

      Ealing Broadway has trains into the airport overland or with Underground at Action town. Ealing Common easier to access by car or direct from Acton Town

      • Lady London says:

        Can also get trains at Hayes I believe either by changing on train or dropoff at Hayes – though Hayes station can beba pig to access especially if not rom South or West sometimes

  • Sam says:

    I don’t want to call it cheap, but who on earth would like to travel with buses to get to your car just to save this £5…also, that makes me think maybe parking in a short stay car park would be a better idea since it should cost a similar amount of money?

    • MW says:

      Maybe that’s the point. “Cheap” enough so that most people will just pay.

    • Anon says:

      Also remember, it’s usually the driver who pays rather than the passenger. £5 is low enough that it’s a hassle trying to explain this to the friend you’re dropping off and also low enough to make you look like a tightass if you demand the £5 off this friend.

    • JJ says:

      Too save £5 then going through the First wing (with family in tow, for some) 😂

  • JDB says:

    Yes, to put the £5 drop off charge into context, there’s a great ice cream place – Amorino – that I have come across in France and has now popped up all over London – they have just broken the £5 for two scoops.

  • J says:

    Good wrote up Rhys. It’s made me realise once again how petty and reactive to nudges I am when it comes to air travel. Just because of this fairly negligible charge (relative to the full journey cost), I know it’s going to tip me towards LCY as it’s a slightly easier journey by public transport.

    Boycotted Easyjet for over 3 years because they refused to refund £50 of food expenses for a 48 hour delay and didn’t return to Stansted and Luton after long queues on single trips – having previously used all of these many times a year. I’m fully aware I need to grow up and get over the pettiness at some point!

    • Track says:

      Was there an expectation they would refund without a court case?

  • Anon says:

    One of my problems with this charge is that when it happens at other airports it tends to be charged 24 hours a day. Not much good when you have one of those 6.30am flights that make it impossible to get to the airport on time with public transport.

    I know at Stansted, there’s somewhere you can sort of drop off passengers before the barrier that’s close enough for them to walk to the terminal. While you’re not supposed to drop people off there you see lots of people doing it. Stansted has a particular problem with this because it’s the airport of super cheap 6am Ryanair flights that people book before they realise it’s impossible to get to the airport on public transport that early so end up asking a friend or family member to drive them. The friend or family member is already fed up with getting up at an ungodly hour to drive them certainly is even more annoyed when they realise they have to pay for the privilege of dropping them off.

    • Richard says:

      There is a National Express coach service that runs to Stansted from Liverpool Street via Bethnal Green and Bow Church 24 hours a day. I was a regular user of it when I lived in Bow on account of the super cheap 6am Ryanair flights you mention…

  • Berni B says:

    There’s a simple response to this.
    Fixed spend. £5 more on drop off or using Heathrow’s badly designed car parks, simply means £5 less spent at the terminal. Remember Heathrow is also adding over £7 pp in charges so it’s shareholders recover any covid losses.
    As BA is going back to low cost, the Amex 2-4-1 boat has long since sailed, and Crossrail, if it ever runs, will be 30% more than Thaneslink, then the Heathrow/Legacy airline combination now looks ever less compelling. For two people this means a return trip of £24 more Heathrow charges for nothing. That’s a stunning way to send leisure travelers to Gatwick. Here’s to the hope that BA still keep a presence at Gatwick

    • Track says:

      Here to that.

      Gatwick needs better facilities. All lounges are basically pay-to-book.

      An airline like Cathay should move to Gatwick and Emirates should increase their presence.

  • Matthew says:

    I think what would be impactful here, rather than just compare Heathrow to the other UK airports, is look globally. Which other leading global airports or transport hubs charge to drop off and pick up?

    I don’t mind coordinated drop-off/pick up zones if there is a good alternative with a decent shuttle service. The Uber lot at LAX springs to mind. We should be grateful that, unlike BHX, LHR still has kerbside drop-off. Imagine that being removed in the US.

    Heathrow are partly responsible for financing alternatives and the main frustration here is nothing is being given with the other hand. There still isn’t a train connection west, HS2 isn’t passing by, the only intra-airport connections are National Express busses. They have their request to increase airport fees rejected (which should really cover this) so they create new fees.

    There will be a new option for those of us who need to use the car, and eventually that will be banned or billed too. I’m thinking Hatton Cross, but as previous commenters have observed, tube with luggage is not fun. Or for those coming down the M40, maybe some shuttle service from Oxford. But this is the UK, someone entrepreneurial will find a solution which robs Heathrow of this investment and gives it back to us poor travellers.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.