10 Tips for Saving Money at the Airport

Saving Money at the Airport

As the Easter holidays commence, many excited families with school children will be preparing to jet off for a well earned break abroad.

While the initial cost of booking a holiday and food and drink expenses may be factored into an all-inclusive trip, many may forget to factor in just how much money spending several hours in a busy UK airport can cost the average traveller, especially as a family. 

Fortunately, Nick Drewe, discounts expert and founder of e-commerce platform, Wethrift, has compiled some expert advice on how to save money at the airport during the Easter holidays. 

Avoid changing currency in the airport 

“If you are looking to save money on your currency, avoid changing it at the airport at all costs. The exchange rate will work out significantly more expensive for anyone leaving it until the last minute to buy their euros, dollars or lira within the terminal buildings.

“In fact, airport exchange rates and fees can work out costing you up to 15% more than when exchanging money outside of the airport. There will be ATM machines in the airport that will allow you to withdraw money, but be mindful that you will pay an exchange rate, as well as being charged an additional fee from your bank for exchanging money. 

“It pays to be organised and order your currency exchanged either through an online service, or on your local high street before arriving at the departure lounge. Prepaid travel currency cards and banks like Monzo are an ideal way to avoid having to spend additional money on exchanging currency at the airport. 

Be mindful of baggage allowances and fees

“One of the biggest financial stings at the airport are additional baggage charges. Most airlines are strict when it comes to enforcing their baggage allowance policies. If you have gone over your agreed baggage allowance, or have brought more bags than agreed in your booking confirmation, many airlines will charge you a significant fee to check these additional items onto your flight . 

“When booking your flights, ensure you are aware of your allowed baggage, and consider upping your allowance for an additional fee if you feel it may not be adequate. Although this will incur an additional cost on your booking, it will work out much cheaper than paying this at the airport at the request of the airline operator. 

 Decant your liquids 

“If you are flying with hand luggage only to cut down your travel costs even further, be mindful that your carry-on liquids are still limited to 100ml bottles. Many people fall into the trap of purchasing miniature bottles which fit within the allowance. 

“However, miniatures are expensive, and purchasing several of these 100ml bottles can actually work out more expensive than purchasing your standard sized shampoo and shower gels. 

“Rather than paying high prices for miniature toiletries before heading to security, or paying expensive airport departure lounge prices, cut costs by decantering your liquids into small, see-through plastic bottles before you leave home. An empty plastic bottle travel set can be purchased from high street retailers such as Boots, for as little as £5.

Bring packed lunches 

“When it comes to dining in the airport, this can work out extremely expensive, especially if you are travelling as a family with lots of healthy appetites. Typically, airport food works out approximately 10-15% more expensive than high street restaurants. 

“Preparing packed lunches to consume at the airport is an ideal way to avoid the costs of purchasing food and drink in the airport, or once you’re on the plane. You are able to take most solid foods through airport security, but be mindful that solid foods can obstruct the X-ray machines during security checks.

“If you are bringing solid foods in your hand luggage, many airports recommend removing them from your bag before the X-ray machines, or allow extra time, as it may mean that your bag will also require a manual search.

Pack empty water bottles in your hand luggage

“Although you are able to bring food through airport security, water bottles over 100ml will not be allowed through. Avoid having to purchase more expensive bottled water in the airport, by bringing your own empty water bottles. These can then be filled with water from the free refill stations or bathroom taps once you have gone through airport security. 

Book the airport lounge

“If you are planning on purchasing food and drinks in the airport, and are travelling as a group, booking the airport lounge can surprisingly work out cheaper overall. For example, the airport lounge at Manchester Airport can be booked at £49.99 per guest, and will give you access to food, complimentary alcoholic beverages, and unlimited hot and cold soft beverages. 

Pre book your airport parking

“As with booking your flights, airport parking works out cheaper when you book in advance. As well as saving you money, pre-booking your parking will also avoid the stress of paying upon arrival at the airport, and will ensure there is adequate space during peak travel  times, such as the Easter school holidays. 

Avoid drop off fees 

“If you are getting dropped off via car, you should be mindful of airport drop off fees. Many airports will specify how long the vehicle taking you to the airport is allowed to spend in the designated drop off areas, and is usually limited to just a few minutes. If you do overstay, this can result in a charge upwards of £25.

Travel via public transport 

“If you want to avoid spending on drop off fees, taxis, or airport parking, opt for travelling to the airport via public transport as an alternative. The majority of airports are well connected to train, bus, underground, and tram routes, and can work out significantly cheaper, depending on where you are travelling from. 

“If you are travelling as part of a group, a group train ticket booking will work out cheaper, and remove the complication of travellers having to purchase their own individual tickets. 

“Groups of 3 – 9 adults travelling together can get ⅓ off the price of off-peak tickets, and is something to consider, providing your flight times align with off-peak train times. The majority of train companies will provide an option to book group tickets at a discounted rate. 

Shop for deals in the airport 

“If you do have disposable cash, many travellers are keen to shop for deals and discounts in the airport duty free shops. However, it is always advisable to be mindful of whether you are actually getting a good deal or not. Take the time to research the RRP of products in duty free, to ensure whether you are actually getting a deal before purchasing. 

“Try to plan any duty free purchases ahead of your travels, rather than impulse purchasing when you arrive at the airport. But be sure to avoid purchasing over your allowance, as your purchases will be confiscated.”

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