Last updated: 07:00 AM ET, Fri August 12 2016

Watch The Clock When Parking at London Luton Airport

Airlines & Airports | Paul Thompson | August 12, 2016

Watch The Clock When Parking at London Luton Airport

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

When a family member departs or returns from a trip, it's always special to be able to drop off or pick up your loved one at the airport - but one airport in London may have you opting to say your goodbyes at the nearest train station instead.

London's Luton Airport, located about thirty miles north of central London, is a low-cost hub for airlines like Easyjet, Ryanair, and Wizz, who fly from there to destinations all over Europe. But the airport in some cases is charging family members more than the cost of a plane ticket if they want to park and wait for their relative or friend to depart or arrive.

Luton is the most expansive airport in England at which to park, if you want the convenience of being close to the terminal. Prices range from £53 per hour ($68.98 US) to park and wait, £7 for 40 minutes "short stay,” and £3 for 10 minutes + a pound per minute after that.

These price schemes harken back to the earlier days of cell phone voice and data plans. If you stay within your limits, it’s pretty reasonable, but if you go beyond your limit, you take a big hit to your wallet. In some cases, it really is cheaper to fly from Luton than it is to park there for an hour. For example, you can fly one-way from Luton to Amsterdam on Easyjet for only £42.49. You can also go round trip from Luton to Copenhagen on Ryanair for only £47.68.

READ MORE: London Mayor Pitches Idea for Massive New Airport

Parking is just one way airports collect exorbitant fees from the traveling public. The other big way they do this is through Passenger Facility Charges (PFC). PFC are capped at $4.50 per flight segment here in the U.S., and are tacked on to the price of your ticket. Airports also charge a Landing Fee to airlines, based on the landing weight of each arriving aircraft. Here in Denver, airlines pay $4.53 per thousand pounds. And of course, that charge is also passed on to you by the airlines.

In fairness to the airport, they do offer a free area at which to park and wait, much like the Cell Phone Lots we see at many airports here in the U.S. Pete Williams of the Royal Automotive Club (RAC) told The Telegraph, "While it is true that many airports provide a range of different parking options for drivers depending on how long they expect to stay, motorists need to be aware of the sky-high charges levied by some for parking close to the terminal. Drivers are running the risk of incurring some hefty charges if they drive to a pick-up zone to collect somebody whose flight is delayed, or who has to wait a long time at baggage reclaim.”

Luton Airport doesn’t have a train stop within walking distance of the terminal, so travelers’ best option in lieu of expensive parking is to opt for a quick curbside drop-off, or take the train to the nearby Luton Airport Parkway station then take a short taxi ride to the terminal. 

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