My Experience With a Less Expensive Alternative to Airport Parking
I personally have never understood why anyone would use on-site airport parking unless he or she absolutely needed the convenience of just walking into the terminal. Off-site airport parking lots are often less expensive and simultaneously offer airport shuttle service and a frequent parking program where you earn free days of parking your vehicle — and sometimes you might even get a few extra complimentary benefits, such as bonus frequent flier loyalty program miles, an ice-cold soft drink or water, and perhaps a newspaper…
…but what if you do not need those benefits? What if you want an alternative which is as inexpensive as possible where saving money is your primary goal?
A Less Expensive Alternative to Airport Parking
As soon as I run out of free parking days at the parking lot near the airport which I currently use — which includes a frequent parking loyalty program where what is earned eventually expires and therefore has the potential for savings to be accidentally unrealized — I may consider simply using an even less-expensive alternative when parking my vehicle at the airport. That alternative is usually parking your vehicle in the parking lot of a hotel property — with permission, of course. Think about it: there are usually parking spaces at hotel properties near airports which are unused for the entire night — and most airport hotels already operate a shuttle service to the airport anyway. Other than the sunk costs, the only extra cost to the hotel is the miniscule amount of fuel caused by your extra weight to transport you to the airport in the airport shuttle of the hotel, which is already going to the airport anyway with regularity.
What you might expect to be inherent with airport parking could include:
Secure well-lit area to park your vehicle
Dependable shuttle service
Service free of hassles
My first time using one of these less-expensive airport parking alternatives cost me $27.20 to park my vehicle for a full week. That amount included all taxes and fees, including a service fee of five dollars — and every seventh day of parking is free of charge. This meant that my rate of $3.70 per day would up costing me less than $3.89 per day total.
I challenge you to find a comparable rate at a more “traditional” airport parking facility — even after you factor in whatever benefits you earn and use.
The service was simple to use as well: go to the official Internet web site of the low-cost alternative parking service and choose the parking facility where you would like to park — but read the reviews of other customers and read the provided details about that parking facility before you pay for your parking, which must be in advance.
Once you pay, you receive a receipt which you print to present to the facility on the day which you park. The receipt has all of the information you need on it, including times that you expect to arrive and depart, the service information of the airport shuttle, the address and telephone number of the hotel property, directions to the hotel property, your transaction identification number, the rate per day, and the total cost.
In my experience, the hotel property at which I parked was so loose with the procedure that I probably could have parked there without going through this service — but I would not recommend that, as the management of the hotel property has a right to call a towing company to take away your car if it sits in the parking lot unattended too long. Besides, to do so is unethical.
I had my choice of parking spots when I arrived. I chose a corner spot under a lamppost where only one car could park near my vehicle. The weather was warm — but in case of inclement weather, you have the option of relaxing in a comfortable chair in the climate-controlled lobby of the hotel until it is time for the shuttle to depart to the airport. Additionally, the hotel will most likely offer free access to the Internet with high-speed Wi-Fi service so that you may work while waiting — if you wait at all.
I am certain that the management of the hotel property would not mind if you purchased lunch or a snack at one of their facilities on premises. They certainly would not mind if you booked a room for one night if your flight is scheduled early in the morning and you are not based near the airport — but then again, you might be able to work out a deal with the management personnel at the hotel where you could park free of charge in their parking lot for the entire duration of your trip if you reserve one or more nights to stay as a guest at the hotel property. If you need use this option anyway — which would be significantly more expensive that solely paying for parking your vehicle — then you most likely do not need to pay for an airport parking facility of any kind.
My experience suggests to me that I did not miss more traditional parking facilities at airports — but I do see some potential pitfalls with using a less-expensive alternative to parking at the airport:
You must pay for your parking in advance, meaning you must calculate in advance how long you expect your vehicle to be parked there
If you retrieve your vehicle earlier than scheduled, you do not get a refund for the days you would have used but did not
If your vehicle is parked beyond the date when you were scheduled to pick it up, you could incur additional charges — depending on the facility
If you must cancel your reservation, you can receive a full refund before the date of when you expected to park your vehicle — but the service fee of five dollars is not refundable
You may be parking in different facilities, some of which may be unfamiliar to you — and the facilities with the lowest rates do tend to sell out quickly at times
Companies Which Offer Parking at a Low Cost
This list of companies — which include links for your convenience — is by no means an official endorsement by me; nor is it meant to be exhaustive. Rather, it is provided to give you options so that you may choose the best one for you. If I am missing any companies, please let me know in the Comments section below.
If your schedule is firm with little chance of deviation and you do not miss the familiarity of parking in the same facility — and, most importantly, you want to save a potentially significant amount of money with each time you park your vehicle at the airport — using a airport parking service alternative will most likely make sense to you.
If, on the other hand, you like to park in a familiar parking facility every time and enjoy the benefits and amenities that particular facility has to offer — and if you want to take advantage of optional services offered at an additional charge, such as car washing and detailing or having your pet watched while you are gone — then using a airport parking service alternative will most likely not be right for you, nor might it fit your needs.
There is actually a third option where you not only can park your vehicle near an airport at no cost to you; but you can actually profit from it. I intend to report on that option in more detail in a future article.