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The secrets of airport meet-and-greet parking

News Spain - June 2013

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New Which? research has revealed what can happen to your car when you hand your keys to airport meet-and-greet companies and whether they're really worth the money. We fitted GPS trackers to cars left with three private meet-and-greet providers at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted airports. Our trackers followed where they went and how fast they were driven for six days. We found:

Of the three private meet-and-greet companies we looked at, Meteor Meet and Greet in Stansted, drove our car at nearly 100mph straight after leaving the terminal.

The second, iPark Airport Parking in Heathrow, was recorded driving at close to 90mph and the third, RS09 in Gatwick, parked our car in a car park on an industrial estate which looked very different to the promotional image on its website.

We also found that short-stay parking can be cheaper than meet-and-greet, with similarly short transfer times to the terminal. For example, for a week's holiday at the end of July, Edinburgh airport's official valet service (meet-and-greet) is £86.99 which includes drop off to the terminal. The short-stay parking costs £60.99 and is only one minute walk to the terminal.

Long-stay car parks are the cheapest on-site parking options. At Edinburgh, long-stay is £48.99, £38 cheaper than the official valet service. Long-stay at Heathrow T4 is £67.90, £36.30 cheaper than meet-and-greet at this terminal.

About one in 10 Which? members surveyed in March 2014 have used meet-and-greet services in the last two years with nearly one in five of those experiencing a problem, mostly with cars being returned late.

Which? editor, Richard Headland, said:

"People expect their cars to be driven responsibly and kept safe when using meet-and-greet services so they will be rightly shocked at our findings. Meet-and-greet companies need to raise their standards.

"Consumers should look at previous customer reviews before booking meet-and-greet parking and shop around to see if there might be a cheaper parking option that may be just as convenient."