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Sometimes the most expensive part of a journey is the cost of the airport parking.

Here's a great service that searches for the cheapest airport parking and gives you discounted price quotes online.

 
 
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Discount Airport Parking

How to save money on airport parking
 

A 2005 Best Travel Product Winner by Reader Voting

Parking, parking, everywhere.  But how to find the best value airport parking?

This internet service instantly shops your parking dates and gives you a range of great value airport parking services to choose from.

 

 

Although airfares have generally gone down over the last few years, airport parking costs have definitely increased, and if you're not careful, you'll be paying more than $20/day.

Trying to find the best rate at a convenient parking location close to the airport can be a massively time consuming and ultimately frustrating effort.

AirportParkingReservations.com addresses these needs, and solves these problems.

A simple idea

We use internet services to check just about every other aspect of our travel these days :  airlines, hotels, rental cars, touring and destination information.  But - until very recently - no-one offered a web shopping service to help people find the cheapest and most convenient airport parking, and to enable people to make reservations online, 24/7.

Enter this service offered by AirportParkingReservations.com (I'll call them APR for the rest of the article).  Simply choose the city you want to park your car in, the dates and times you'll drop your car off and pick it up again, then choose from a selection of different parking lots and the rates they offer.

What the site does

The APR site helps you several different ways.

Firstly, it shops a number of different parking sites to find you the best rate possible.  It quotes you complete rates, inclusive of all taxes, fees, and other otherwise hidden charges.

Secondly, it gives you helpful details enabling you to choose which parking lot will best suit your needs.  It gives location information, frequency of shuttle service, and also shows user ratings (from one to five stars).

Thirdly, it also checks for availability at the lots before displaying the results so as to save you from booking your car into a full lot.

Currently APR can help with parking reservations in 88 different US cities, 2 Canadian cities, and 23 UK cities.

The number of airport lots that can be booked through the APR system of course varies from airport to airport.  For example, in Anchorage, they only contract with a single parking lot.  But in larger cities, they contract with more - two in Orlando and JFK,  four in Miami, and as many as seven (Atlanta and San Francisco),  or even ten (Seattle).

It also offers combination hotel/parking deals - see next section.

Hotel package deals too

When I was a travel agent, I was surprised at the number of people who would choose to spend the night prior to flying out at an airport hotel.

Some people said they liked the fact that 'nothing could go wrong' on the day of their flight; others said they liked the fact they could have a good night's sleep and get up shortly before check-in time rather than having a very early morning start and then a stress-filled fight against rush hour traffic.  And some people figured it to be as cheap, or cheaper, to buy a night of accommodation to get the free parking that came with it, as to just buy parking by itself.

Conceivably one could also stay at the hotel for a night at the end of your journey.  If you've spent a long day traveling to get to your home airport, arrive late at night, and then have a long drive ahead of you, this might also be appealing.

If you fall in any of these categories, you'll be pleased to know that the APR website also suggests nearby airport hotels offering one night stays combined with free parking.  Years ago, it seemed you could get almost unlimited free parking with a single overnight stay; these days, most properties limit you to seven days free parking, although a few give you 14 days, and the extra day rate at most of the hotels is usually very fair.

It probably is no longer cheaper to stay for a night in a hotel so as to benefit from the associated free/discounted parking, but it is not necessarily very much more expensive.  And you can instantly compare the cost of parking alone with a combined parking/overnight stay rate.

Sometimes the cheapest rate isn't the best

You get what you pay for, with discounted airport parking the same as everything else, it seems.  And so APR helpfully gives you the information you need to evaluate the different parking services available.  For example, you might find that the place with the lowest rate only has shuttle buses operating once every 30 minutes, whereas for only a few dollars more, you can get shuttles every 15 minutes, a convenient saving in time that is definitely worth a couple more dollars.

They also present a map that shows the location of all the airport parking locations so you can see how easy each is to access and how far it is from the airport.  These maps aren't always very useful, though - in the case of my home airport (Seattle) two of the numbered dots for parking lots were obscured by other dots on top of them.  However, I could see enough to generally know where all the lots probably were, and when making reservations, the service then gives you helpful exact details on how to drive to each lot.

Some lots offer valet parking, and some lots offer covered rather than open parking.  These issues are also clearly explained on each listing.

All (or almost all) airport parking lots offer discounts

Paying the full listed price for airport parking is about as stupid as paying the full unrestricted fare on the flight you're about to take.

Most travel agencies get literally boxes full of coupons from several of the airport parking lots and pass these on to their clients.  Often you'll get coupons in with credit card and other mailings.  And just about every parking lot's website has an internet special rate, too.

So - on the face of it - there's nothing new to APR's concept of offering discounted parking.  But how good were their discounts?  The only way to find out was to do some comparison shopping.

Rate comparisons

We tested AirportParkingReservations.com against high placed listings in a Google search for 'Seattle Airport Parking' using three different scenarios for type and duration of stay.

1.   Six day stay, reasonable advance booking

On Wednesday 20 April, I searched for rates if arriving on Saturday 30 April at 9.15am and leaving on Friday 6 May at 3.45pm - a total of 5.5 days, and with ten days advance booking notice.

The APR site offered me 11 different rates, ranging from a low of $42.43 up to a high of $80.65.

It also suggested eight different local hotels offering packages combining one night of accommodation and usually seven days of free car parking.

The first site to appear in the Google responses was Thriftyparking.com.  Going to their site revealed a web special rate of $11.95/day plus unspecified fees and taxes, and their site wouldn't quote an exact rate.  So their cost was probably going to be something over $80 - as much or more than the most expensive of APR's eleven rates.

The second site - carparknet.com - looked promising.  Although it offered, in its Google ad, a rate of under $7/day, when I went to the site, the rate showed as $8, and when I asked for a quote for the test dates, it calculated this as seven days and the lowest rate offered was $55.65, and when I clicked on this to try and find what taxes and fees might be extra, their website crashed completely.  I repeated the exercise, and this time discovered their lowest rate would be $58.64 - $9.77 a day, a lot more than advertised.  Five of APR's rates were better.

The next Google entry was for masterparking.com.  This was interesting, because Master Park also appears as one of APRs results.  The Masterpark site's best rate was a web special rate of $61.25 plus unspecified fees and taxes - in other words, a total cost of at least $68.75.  Although this web-special on Master Park's own site was less than the rate on the APR site, six of APR's other rates were lower.

The next site was Seatacpark.com, offering a web special rate of $9.95 a day, plus 8.9% in taxes and $2 in fees, totaling $67.01.  Six of APR's rates were lower.

Overall, APR was clearly the winner in this comparison with four other sites, offering a wider range of parking choices and rates as much as $26.32 lower.

2.   Long stay, advance booking

I then tested for a long stay, booked a month in advance, and asked for rates from Wednesday 25 May at 7.15am through Thursday 23 June, returning at 2.30pm - a total of 29.5 days.

APR returned 11 rates, ranging from a low of $103.50 up to a high of $332.50.

Thrifty's rate was probably about $306, or possibly $311.

Carparknet's rate was $204.54.

Masterparking.com was probably $288.

Seatacpark.com was probably $110.85.  Interestingly, the lowest rate on the APR site was also using Seatacpark, but APR was offering it for $7.35 less.

In this scenario, APR was again the clear winner, with better rates and more choices than the other four sites, and savings of up to $207.50 on this long term stay.

3.   Rates for a single day's stay, tomorrow

APR returned the same eleven rates as before, but this time advised that three of the lots were sold out for tomorrow.  This of course was very helpful information and could potentially save a lot of anguish early in the morning!  The rates at the other lots ranged from a low of $9.75 up to a high of $16.

Thrifty's site allowed me to make a reservation, but did not tell me if space existed or not.  Their rate would probably be just over $15.

Carparknet's rate was $10.94, and it was again unclear if they had checked availability or not.

Masterparking.com offered a $13.16 rate and probably would check availability if I made a booking.

Seatacpark.com offered a $12.84 rate and had a reservation guarantee that ominously said 'if for some reason your space is not available...' and offered a free parking compensation if this should happen.

Again, in this final scenario, APR again won with the best rates and most choices.  Although the savings weren't as substantial, this is to be expected when you're only spending one day in the lot.

Summary

AirportParkingReservations.com offers a convenient shopping service making it easy for you to understand your parking choices, and access to rates that, at least in our own testing, can be the best available by a comfortable margin.

As such, it seems to have everything going for it, and we're pleased to recommend it.

 

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Originally published 22 Apr 2005, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
 
 

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