Airport parking is an often overlooked cost when booking a holiday and can catch many travellers off-guard with higher-than-expected charges. Each airport has its own way of doing things, with some having much more expensive parking than others. Airports also have various rules for the time you can spend in different car parks, which can cause headaches for travellers in a rush to catch their flight.
The best thing you can do to alleviate any stress and concerns is to plan ahead. Check the airport's website for information on parking rates and rules. This way, you will know ahead of time how much it will cost to park your car, so you don't have to worry about affording essential bills and car finance payments when you should be relaxed and ready to enjoy your holiday.
With this in mind, we've compared each country's busiest airports to find out where you will be charged the most and least for a week's stay.
We looked at the largest airport in every country by the number of commercial passengers to find out which has the cheapest weekly parking rate. From this, we were able to rank the airports in order of least expensive to most expensive.
São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport can be crowned the airport with the cheapest parking fees, charging only £21.53 (R$135) for a week's stay in its most affordable car park. The airport serves as Brazil's main passenger hub for air travel and is one of the biggest in South America regarding passenger traffic, second only to Mexico City International Airport.
Taking second place is Istanbul's Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, where a week's parking will cost just £23.70 (₺571), which is £2.60 less than its sister airport on the European side of the city. Built to handle the increasing demand from the now-closed Atatürk Airport, Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen hosts more than 30 million passengers a year.
Taking third place is another Turkish airport, with a weekly parking fee of only £25.78 (₺621). That's £25 very well spent, as weekly parking rates vary wildly depending on the airport and where you park. This airport is the gateway to Turkey's Mediterranean coast and handled more than 31 million passengers in 2022 alone, making it the country's second busiest airport behind Istanbul.
Qatar's Hamad International Airport can be crowned the most expensive if you're looking to park there long term, with the airport east of the nation's capital Doha charging a whopping £433.61 a week. However, travellers regularly vote for Hamad International as one of the world's best airports, taking first place in 2021 and 2022 thanks to its cleanliness and range of shops.
Taking second place is London's Heathrow Airport, with long-term parking setting travellers back a minimum of £255.30 for a week's stay. The airport is one of the world's busiest by passenger traffic, serving more than 80 million passengers a year, with a flight taking off every 45 seconds on average.
Serving as the United States' main gateway across the Pacific, San Francisco International Airport offers flights as far away as the Middle East and closer destinations like Australasia, too. It takes third place in the ranking with the cheapest week's parking, costing just under £200.
Doha's Hamad International Airport takes the top spot as the airport with the most significant increase in parking fees, with its lowest price rising by around 410% over the last five years. Unsurprisingly, this airport drastically increased its parking charges as it is renowned for its luxurious facilities, including upscale dining and even a spa!
Taking second place is Istanbul's Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, located on the Asian side of the Turkish capital. Over the last five years, the cost of a week's parking has grown by 161.33% to ₺571 due to the ongoing economic crisis devaluing its currency and rapidly increasing inflation.
In third place is Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, with a week's parking prices doubling since 2018 and currently costing $98. The airport upped its prices last year for the first time since 2017 to capitalise on the increased demand for parking. They claim this additional revenue will be used to expand and maintain the airport's facilities for future travellers.
Taking the top spot as the airport with the most significant drop in parking price is Los Angeles International Airport, the largest airport on the east coast of the US. LAX is a major international gateway to the US and a stopover for international flights to Australasia, South America and South East Asia. Parking prices at LAX have dropped by 58.35% since last year, now going as low as $35 thanks to a lack of demand as travellers are choosing more environmentally friendly ways to get to and from the airport.
In second place is Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, with a 40% decrease in its cheapest parking fees for a week's stay. Dallas Fort Worth is one of the world's busiest airports by aircraft movement and the second busiest by passenger traffic, so it's no surprise they have lowered parking prices to encourage travellers to fly after suffering huge losses due to the travel restrictions caused by the pandemic.
Up next is Spain's Barcelona El Prat Airport. The airport has more than 20,000 parking spaces to accommodate more than 41 million annual passengers that pass through its terminals. Barcelona El Prat takes third place with its cheapest rate for a week's parking dropping by more than €31 to €100 in 2023, a 24.13% decrease as car parks cut down on costs by automating jobs, reducing car parking charges.
Some airports have straightforward parking options, while others have multiple offerings for you to choose between. It's best to research the airport ahead of time, so you can review all the available parking options and find what's best for you.
Remember that some of the less expensive options will have you parking further from the terminals, so you may need to allow extra time to avoid missing your flight.
Some of the farther-away parking options also require you to catch a shuttle, a bus, or even a train to get to the airport. Make sure you find out whether these additional travel requirements are free, and if not, how much they'll set you back.
We wanted to explore how parking rates can vary between different international airports. To do this, we looked at the busiest airports around the world in terms of the number of commercial passengers that used them in 2022, according to Wikipedia.
For airports that did not have this data available, we took the lowest price for a week's parking between 12 AM 21 May 2023 and 12 AM 28 May 2023. We collected this data on 19 May 2023 and then ranked the airports for these figures.
Currencies were converted on 19 April 2023 using Google Finance.
We then visited each airport’s website to explore pricing options in 2023. The prices we recorded were the least you could be charged for an entire week's parking without prior booking in a long-stay car park.
2022 data was collected on 20 May 2022. For airports that did not have this data, the lowest price for a week's parking between 12 AM 21 May 2022 and 12 AM 28 May 2022 was taken. Data was collected on 19 May 2022.