Drop Off Charges at the Major UK Airports Explained

Date: 15 JAN 24


The days of the free drop off at major airports are long over - post Covid many airports decided to introduce fees to drop off your loved ones even if you are there for a few minutes.  Understanding the costs of drop-off charges at major UK airports is crucial for both seasoned travelers and those embarking on their first journey to understand the true cost of their trip. Navigating through airports like Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, and Manchester requires a comprehensive understanding of the drop-off policies in place. In this article, we delve into the specifics, shedding light on the fees, regulations, and insider tips to help you optimize your drop-off experience.

Heathrow Airport Drop Off: Navigating the Charges

Unveiling the Structure

At Heathrow Airport, drop-off charges are structured to manage traffic efficiently and allow passengers to be dropped off right outside the terminal.

The cost for a drop-off at Heathrow Airport is £5.

Heathrow Airport Specific Insights

You can pay for a one-off drop off online, create a personal account or pay by telephone. Additional options are available for businesses, taxi firms, or those with multiple vehicles. Discounts are also available for Blue Badge holders by uploading a picture of the front and back of your badge. There is no option to pay at a ticket machine or on-site. There is an £80 penalty for unpaid drop off charges.

Heathrow Airport Free Drop Off

A free shuttle service is available from the long-stay car parks. You can park for up to 30 minutes free and the shuttle service runs every 15 minutes and takes approximately 5 mins.

Gatwick Airport: Decoding the Drop-Off Dynamics

Insights into Gatwick's Approach to drop off charges

Gatwick Airport follows a fixed charge policy of £6 to use the designated drop off zones in the North and South terminals which must be paid by midnight the day after you use the zones. You can choose to pay online, by telephone on 0330 174 4503, or by setting up an Autopay account. Blue badge holders are exempt from the charge but must register their vehicle on the NCP website here: https://gatwick-app.zatpermit.com/applicant

Navigating the Free Gatwick Airport Options

You can pick up and drop off using the long-stay car parks and shuttle bus services. Gatwick Airport allows you to park for up to 2 hours free with this method. Another hack is to use the Metrobus which costs £2 - simply get dropped off at the closest bus stop and catch the bus. There is a 5 minute walk to the airport terminals from the closest bus stop.

Stansted Airport: Understanding the Drop-Off Rules

Delving into Stansted Airports Drop-Off Policies

Stansted Airport maintains a number of drop-off charges depending on how close you want to get to the terminal. The Express Set Down drops you right outside the terminal and costs £7 for up to 15 minutes. Over 15 minutes will cost you £25.  Drop offs at the short stay car park are £10 for up to 30 minutes and free for 60 minutes at the mid stay car park, Payment is made at the barrier and is completely cashless so make sure you bring your debit card/mobile phone. There is no discount for blue badge holders but there are designated spaces.

Luton Airport: Mastering the Art of Efficient Drop-Offs

Unraveling Luton's Drop Off System

Luton Airport currently employs a change to drop offs following a car fire at the main terminal car park, Passengers need to be dropped off at the Mid Stay car park which is free for up to 30 minutes - a shuttle bus or a 10 minute walk will get you to the main terminal. Additionally, you can park at the long stay car parks for up to 1 hour for free and again utilise the free 10-minute shuttle bus to get you to the terminal.

Manchester Airport: A Comprehensive Guide to Drop-Offs

Manchester Airport Drop Offs

Manchester Airport has a drop off service directly outside all 3 terminals which are ideal if you want to just unload luggage and drive away. The cost is £5 for up to 5 minutes, this rises to £6 for 10 minutes. Payment is made at the barrier via card or exact change. Blue badge holders can drop off for free.

Manchester Airport Free Drop Off

The free drop-off area is located in JetParks 1. A free shuttle bus will ferry passengers to their terminal in around 6 minutes. If you want to accompany them then the shuttle bus is free for you as well.


In conclusion, mastering the specifics of drop-off charges at major UK airports empowers travelers to make informed decisions. From Heathrow to Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, and Manchester, each airport has its unique framework. By adhering to these guidelines and leveraging insider tips, you can streamline your drop-off experience and potentially save on unnecessary charges.

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