If you have been through an airport within the last decade you will know that they are not just a means of boarding a plane at one side and de-boarding it at the other! they are huge facilities with areas for shopping, dining and even leisure activities such as spas and fitness centres. Doha Hamad Airport even has a swimming pool situated airside above the main terminal!
These facilities cost a huge amount of money to build and keep running and the only way for them to keep going is by relying on passengers to pay for it all!, this is shown in the cost of your flight tickets (airport taxes) and the cost of things within the airport!
In this post I am going to give you my top 5 tips for how to save money while passing through an airport!
#1 Plan your timings for arrival at the airport and your departure time!
My general thought on airport spending is that, the longer you are in them then the more money you are going to spend! Be it the extra couple of pints in the bar or that bottle of aftershave you have always wanted and the ‘screw it, I’m on holiday’ attitude that has made you buy it!
If you are wanting to avoid spending when passing through the terminal then follow the 2 hour rule for your flight… if you flight is at 17:00, then arrive at the terminal at 15:00! This will give you just enough time to check in any bags, go through security and get to your gate without missing your flight!
#2 Park off terminal grounds or even use public transport if possible!
If you are thinking of parking right on the airport grounds either in one of the self park multi storey buildings or at the airport meet and greet area, you will be paying significantly more compared to parking on an offsite car park and getting bussed into to the terminal building.
At Manchester Airport I use an offsite car park called CarePark, which is about a 10 minute drive away from the airport grounds (the carpark is actually at the end of the north side of the runway, but you have to go all the way around to reach it)
Parking typically costs around £25 for me to park my hatchback there for a long weekend. Upon arriving at the carpark I give them my car key and then get on a waiting bus which goes to all 3 of the terminal building! Upon landing you just repeat the process in reverse.. it may seem like a bit of hassle but you save a fortune when compared to parking on the airport site and doesn’t really take that long to get from A to B or back again!
#3 Think whether you REALLY need fast track security or immigration!
Just about every major airport offers a fast track security or immigration service, its essentially the bog standard security check or immigration check but in a separate queue with dedicated staff, meaning that if you are in a rush to get through either of these areas of the airport that you must go through, you can pay a bit of cash and get through quicker than everyone else.
Depending on when you are travelling and what you are taking with you in your hand luggage it may be worth considering either service, however some times it is not worth doing either, if you are passing through an airport at a quieter time you may find that there are not many people queueing to go through either security or immigration and therefore it is just as quick to go through the normal queue.
My advice would be to think about your flight time and on what day is it on, if you are flying on a Friday morning or afternoon it is going to be more busy than a Tuesday very early in the morning. The main thing to take from this point is that sometimes it is not even necessary to book a fast track service just for the sake of it, especially if there is a strong chance that it is going to be quiet anyway, but it is just a gamble sometimes.
#4 Save on the expensive food and drink and bring your own!
No matter what it is, from a KitKat bar to a full meal, it is going to cost more in the airport than it would in any other public place! Many people believe that if they want something to eat whilst at the airport then you have to buy it in the airport because of security restrictions… which is kind of true… depending on what it is, however you can bring most pre packaged foods through security as long as it is less than 100ml in liquid content. So things like granola bars, crisps and even some sandwiches are OK to take through, where things like yoghurts, juicy fruits and smoothies you will want to leave!
Don’t waste money and the unneeded use of plastic bottles buying a bottle of water every time you go through an airport! You can bring an empty container with you from home and fill it up at one of the many water points airside. You may have to show the security official that it is empty but this is perfectly allowed!
Another little thing to bare in mind, if you are travelling to somewhere that has strict bio security then you will need to consume any food you take with you before arriving in the country, or declare it!
#5 If you are a frequent flyer consider a lounge pass
Lounges aren’t just for the business class traveller anymore! Nearly every airport has at least one with some major airports having several. If you pass through airports quite a bit and usually buy something like a meal or a couple of drinks every time you pass through, then it might be worth investing in a Priority Pass membership.
The ‘Prestige’ membership, which is a couple of hundred pounds a year to be a member of gives you paid access to thousands of lounges all around the world, lounges to vary slightly but can feature a wide range of food and drink (alcoholic and non alcoholic) as well as facilities like work areas, showers and some even have small spa areas in them too!
To determine whether getting a lounge membership would save you money really depends on how many times you travel and also by working out a rough estimate of how much you would spend per airport visit. If you only pass through an airport a couple of times a year and don’t really spend much normally, then a lounge pass could be a big waste of money for you. It could however save you a small fortune in the long run!
To find out more about Priority Pass and how to get signed up, click here
I hope you have found these 5 tips of mine useful and think of some of them on to your next trip through an airport! Have you got any money saving tips when travelling through airports? Let me know in the comments below!