Why You Should Seriously Think Twice Before Parking At An Airport

Planning a trip soon? You might already be thinking about how — or where — you're going to park your car after the drive to the airport. If they could talk, most airports would probably try and persuade you to just use their parking and fly on. After all, it's close, secure, and it typically means you don't have to bother waiting around for a ride back once you've returned home. And while this all might sound great in theory, the reality is that official airport parking isn't always what it's cracked up to be.

Because the thing is, even though parking at the airport might be the most "convenient" choice for most travelers ... it's also, in most cases, the most expensive out of all the available options out there. And unless you're well-versed in the best ways to save on airport parking, chances are you'll be paying way more than you need to for a few days' worth of space for your car.

Parking at the airport can get very expensive very quickly

Let's face it: Airports are notoriously expensive. From the overpriced lounges to shelling out more cash while shopping for duty-free items, and even paying up to 300% more for a drink or snack while you wait for your flight, airport prices are generally hiked up way beyond what most people would, realistically, be willing to spend anywhere else. But since there's nowhere else you can go, once you've reached your thirst and hunger breaking point, you'll probably end up paying whatever it takes for what you need.

Nonetheless, when it comes to parking, certain airports take things a little too far. In fact, according to a 2021 report by Forbes, busy large airports can actually make around $63 million a year just in airport fees — with certain hubs in destinations like London charging upwards of $210 a week for parking. The U.S. doesn't stay behind. Per a 2023 report by KPBS, San Diego International Airport has a hefty $38 daily fee — which totals up to $266 a week. Ouch!

Here's what you can try instead of parking at the airport

Don't worry, though — there's no need to guilt that extra-generous friend into driving you to the airport in order to help you save. First, there are the "Park, Sleep, Fly" bundles available at most major airports. Typically, these include a night's stay nearby — either at the beginning or end of your trip — as well as access to parking at the hotel and a shuttle directly to the airport. As for pricing, a one-night stay and four-day parking package near LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), for example, could set you back around $219. Alternatively, websites like Airport Parking Reservations can also help you scour the area for nearby parking spots. For example, when looking for spots near LAX for the same 4-day trip, the website threw out over a dozen options starting from $12 a day, or $48 for the duration of the trip.

If neither of these work, there's always the option of using a rideshare app — or calling a taxi. Using LAX as an example again, a trip to the airport with Lyft will cost around $1.10 per mile and $0.18 per minute, not to mention the $4 surcharge. For travelers willing to wait it out, cabs from downtown to LAX have a flat rate of $46.50 plus a $4 surcharge. Depending on where you live, you should compare taxis and a couple ridesharing apps to get the best deal.