The secrets of airport meet-and-greet parking

New Which? research has revealed what can happen to your car when you hand your keys to airport meet-and-greet companies and whether they’re really worth the money.

We fitted GPS trackers to cars left with three private meet-and-greet providers at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted airports. Our trackers followed where they went and how fast they were driven for six days. We found:

  • Of the three private meet-and-greet companies we looked at, Meteor Meet and Greet in Stansted, drove our car at nearly 100mph straight after leaving the terminal.
  • The second, iPark Airport Parking in Heathrow, was recorded driving at close to 90mph and the third, RS09 in Gatwick, parked our car in a car park on an industrial estate which looked very different to the promotional image on its website.
  • We also found that short-stay parking can be cheaper than meet-and-greet, with similarly short transfer times to the terminal. For example, for a week’s holiday at the end of July, Edinburgh airport’s official valet service (meet-and-greet) is £86.99 which includes drop off to the terminal. The short-stay parking costs £60.99 and is only one minute walk to the terminal.
  • Long-stay car parks are the cheapest on-site parking options. At Edinburgh, long-stay is £48.99, £38 cheaper than the official valet service. Long-stay at Heathrow T4 is £67.90, £36.30 cheaper than meet-and-greet at this terminal.
  • About one in 10 Which? members surveyed in March 2014 have used meet-and-greet services in the last two years with nearly one in five of those experiencing a problem, mostly with cars being returned late.

Which? editor, Richard Headland, said:

“People expect their cars to be driven responsibly and kept safe when using meet-and-greet services so they will be rightly shocked at our findings.  Meet-and-greet companies need to raise their standards. 

“Consumers should look at previous customer reviews before booking meet-and-greet parking and shop around to see if there might be a cheaper parking option that may be just as convenient.”

Notes to editors:

  1. After hearing about the problems Which? members had faced while using meet-and-greet providers, we tested three providers who had all received mixed reviews online from members of the public.
  2. We took a snapshot of prices for a week’s meet-and-greet parking between Friday 25 July and Friday 1 August at the UK’s 10 busiest airports. We compared official on-site airport providers with private companies that meet you at the airport, park off-site and then return your car.
  3. The full report appears in the July edition of Which? Travel magazine.

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