I’ve had some horribly early flights recently and I’ve tried various options to see which is the least grim way to get to the airport at times when I really should be fast asleep in bed.
When we went on a family trip to Croatia at Easter we had to check in at London Gatwick at 4.50 am. We stayed at an airport hotel the night before and that worked pretty well – you can read my review here.
Getting to the airport
When I went on a press trip to Ikos Oceania in Greece in April the flight was also from London Gatwick. I had to meet the rest of my group to check in at 4.00 am. As I was going to be away from my husband and kids for a few days I didn’t want to stay at the airport the night before as that would have added an extra night to the trip. Nor did I want my husband (although he kindly offered to do so) to drive me to the airport and leave the kids asleep in bed in the middle of the night. There’s no public transport during the night where we live and I didn’t want to book a taxi as I would have worried that it wouldn’t turn up (taxis need a lot of persuasion and direction to come to our village).
I decided that the only option was to drive myself to the airport and park my car there. But I didn’t want to waste any time by driving to an airport car park somewhere in the Gatwick area and getting a shuttle bus to the terminal. Because I’d really rather be asleep than doing anything else at that time, I wanted to park as close to the terminal as possible and walk from my car to the check-in desks.
APH Meet & Greet Airport Parking
I contacted APH Airport Parking to see if they could help. They could. APH booked me in for their Meet & Greet Airport Parking service. This is a splendid system which is perfect if, like me, you don’t want to waste any time while getting to the airport. Essentially you drive to the short stay car park which is right next to the airport terminal. You follow the clear instructions which APH have emailed to you explaining exactly where to park. When you get there you’re met by a professional APH driver who is expecting you.
You give your car keys to the driver and he or she gives you a yellow card explaining what to do when you return from your trip. You then collect your luggage from your car and walk into the airport terminal to check in. Meanwhile your car is whisked away to a secure car park nearby to be looked after until your return. It really couldn’t be any easier.
The evening before my flight I realised that I had made a mistake. When I’d booked with APH I’d automatically given them the details of the battered 7-seater Volvo-tank which I use to transport kids, pets, shopping, Christmas trees and footballs around rural Surrey and Kent. I didn’t mention the diminutive Fiat Panda which my husband parks at our local station when he commutes to work. This was a mistake because, while I was away, my husband was due to drive our daughter to a university open day in Plymouth. The journey from our house to Plymouth is a 440-mile round trip. They were going to need the Volvo.
I quickly called APH to change my details but it was 9pm and their office was closed. Panicking, I called the number of the Meet & Greet driver that I was due to call 30 minutes before meeting him at the airport in the morning. He answered my call straight away, calmly amended my car details and reassured me that there was no problem. Phew.
When I arrived back at Gatwick from Greece a few days later I followed the instructions which the APH driver had given me. Once I’d retrieved my suitcase from the baggage hall I phoned the number on the yellow card and was told that a driver would meet me with my car in same place where I’d left it. I strolled through Customs and out of the terminal to the car park. A few minutes later I was driving home from the airport.
APH Meet & Greet Airport Parking is a great service which I love using. I think that it would work particularly well for families with babies and small children in tow.
The price for APH Meet & Greet Airport Parking depends on your travel dates – you can contact APH online or by phone for a quote. A sample price taken from the APH website today is £69.95 for four days. If you don’t want a Meet & Greet service then APH also offer other Gatwick parking options where you park your car yourself and catch a transfer bus to the airport.
Disclosure: APH provided me with Meet & Greet Airport Parking free of charge for my trip for the purposes of this review. All options, words and images are my own.
Have you ever tried meet & greet airport parking? What’s your preferred way to get to the airport?