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Are you planning a getaway over the Christmas break? Perhaps you’ve traveled for a white Christmas in the UK, or you’re in the UK and planning out your escape!

Either way, if you’re planning on driving to the airport and paying for parking facilities, bear in mind that some are definitely busier – and more expensive – than others.

A recent study investigated search engine data and airport parking sites to determine how passengers at UK international airports use airport car parking services and how much they pay for them.

The results provided some surprising insights.

The UK’s Busiest and Most Popular Airports for Airport Parking

These Results are Surprising

The research on Google search data showed that despite the fact that 3 out of every 5 people flying in the UK in 2018 did so from a London airport, non-London airports had three times more flyers looking for airport car parking facilities.

With 78 million passengers passing through every year, London Heathrow is the third busiest airport in the world, yet it has one of the lowest percentages of passengers looking for parking facilities in comparison with other UK international airports.

Just 0.83% of passengers at Heathrow Airport are looking to park their cars there while they go on holiday. This amounts to fewer than 1 in 100 passengers – an incredibly low figure given the scale of Heathrow.

The lack of passengers opting to use Heathrow’s airport parking facilities may be due to the plentiful public transport within and around London as well as the higher prices of airport parking facilities at London airports, which cost roughly £15 a week more on average than those at non-London airports.

The Busiest Airport for Parking

Passengers travelling from London airports this Christmas should weigh up the increased expense of parking in London with the availability of parking spaces there. Due to the small percentage of flyers who use the parking facilities, you’re sure to secure a space especially if you book in advance.

By contrast, at Bristol Airport almost 11% of passengers make use of airport parking facilities, which suggests that parking at Bristol is highly competitive. If you’re flying from Bristol and intend to park your car at the airport, be sure to book beforehand to save yourself stress on the day.

By far the most searched for airport in terms of parking facilities, however, is Manchester Airport. Three people search for Manchester Airport car parking for every one search for parking at Heathrow, with the Staysure study showing that 1 in 20 passengers flying from Manchester park their cars there.

If you’re flying from a non-London airport this Christmas, remember that their parking facilities are more affordable but competition for spaces is high. Book at least a week in advance to avoid stress on the day as well as paying high rates.

Save Money By Booking in Advance

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That travellers can save money by booking airport parking at least a week in advance is universally true among UK international airports, though the amount of money saved varies.

Passengers at Belfast have the least to gain by booking ahead of time – there is only a £25 difference between last minute payments and pre-booking a week before travel.

If you’re flying from Luton, however, there is a huge £141.49 difference in price between the two – so Luton passengers should definitely take the time to pre-book.


UK Great Britain Guide Amazon

Lonely Planet Great Britain Travel Guide

UK Great Britain Guide Amazon

Fodor’s Travel Essential Great Britain

UK Great Britain Guide AmazonFrommer’s England & Scotland

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. Interesting parking stat Meg. I figure that number drops more and more as folks Uber and Grab around. We do so in virtually all places those services avail themselves.

    • So glad you enjoyed the post Ryan, yes, it makes sense that bigger cities, while the airports see higher passenger traffic, have less competition for parking in that public transport and services like Uber etc are used more prolifically. Where-as in smaller towns / cities and more rural regions, people have to rely on driving. So it does make sense once you think about it!

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