Getting to the airport – what’s the faff factor?
Posted on: 28 July 2011 by Eshe Brown
For anyone looking for an easy journey, here’s a guide to the benefits versus the ‘faff factor’ of getting to the airport.
Taking a holiday can mean lots of preparation so it’s worth thinking about how you’ll be getting to and from the airport as early as possible. Each different form of travel has its own ‘faff factor’ – the time wasting and awkward elements we all try to avoid on holiday!
Driving to the airport allows you to take the journey at your own pace and travel from door-to-door with ease. You will be in your own car, which means you can listen to music or play games with children. Plus you can leave when it suits you – any time day or night, allowing you plenty of time for check in at the airport. You’ll be able to pack your car the day before and if you have large or awkward luggage, you can strap a roof-rack on top to carry these extra items. If your return flight is delayed you will be able to head straight home upon arrival without having to hang around at the airport for ages.
You will need to drive yourself, so won’t be able to drink on the plane or at the airport. You’ll also need to be alert, which isn’t always easy after a long or late night flight. On your departure you’ll need to account for possible traffic and allow extra time in case of any delays. Official airport parking can be expensive, which will be an additional cost to your journey.
Top tip for car travel: To avoid the high airport parking costs, consider using park and ride companies such as Purple Parking which provide car parking at Heathrow, Gatwick and most other major UK airports. They also offer meet and greet services so you can be greeted at your gate by a chauffeur with your car. 50connect readers can save 15% off parking at selected airport car parks across the UK by visiting www.purpleparking.com and quoting E118W.
Coach and Bus
One of the main benefits of travelling by coach is that you can relax on the journey, leaving you free to enjoy the build up to your holiday. Many coach companies will collect you from designated pick-up points and take you directly to the terminal. This means once you’re on board, you don’t need to get off until you reach the airport. As a result, you won’t need to carry your luggage or grand children too far. Another advantage of coach travel is the price – this is generally an inexpensive option, leaving you with more spending money for your trip.
When travelling by coach you’ll need to get to the pick-up point, which may mean you’re faced with the additional costs and ‘faff’ of a taxi journey. You'll also need to schedule your travel into the company’s timetable, which could mean a long wait at the airport. If you’re taking larger items such as skis, you’ll need to check that the coach company is willing to carry these in the hold. Coaches are also likely to stop off at several points throughout your journey, meaning this can be a much slower trip, so you’ll need to leave home much earlier. If your return flight is delayed, you may need to rebook your return coach, which could add additional waiting time and amendment charges in the process.
Top tip for coach travel: Before you book coach travel, check out amendment charges so that you don’t get stung with additional costs if your flight is delayed.
Taxis provide a handy door-to-door service, which you can book to pick you up at the exact time you want, day or night. You can book multiple-seaters to allow for a large family, lots of luggage or a wheelchair. You can also then relax on the journey or play games to keep little ones entertained. You can book a pick-up taxi to be waiting for you when you arrive back in the UK and if your flight is delayed you simply need to call the taxi company to rearrange. Some companies will even keep an eye on your flight details for delays, so you don’t need to worry about calling them from abroad.
Depending on how far you are from the airport, taxis can prove expensive, especially if you’re travelling at night or on a bank holiday. Larger luggage can be difficult to fit in to some taxis and if your travelling with young grand children you will also need to bring a car seat for the journey, which can leave you stuck trying to store it at the airport.
Top tip for taxi travel: Book both stretches of the journey in advance for a fixed price and check costs with several companies to get the best deal you can.
If you take the train you have the option of many regular services, accessible from anywhere with a train station. It can also be a cheaper option and takes you directly to the airport. If there’s a few of you then you will all be able to fit on the train and children generally enjoy train travel so will be entertained on the trip.
Trains are usually faster than travelling by road, as you don’t need to worry about bad traffic. You can also relax with a book or eat and drink on your journey.
If you don’t live right by a train station you will need to consider how you will get there with all of your luggage and family. This may mean an additional taxi journey to reach the station. Also, it is quite likely that you will need to change trains, which could mean awkward, rushed platform changes or stressful tube journeys. Remember, trains and tubes don’t run all night, so you may need to wait at the station or make alternative arrangements if you’re leaving or arriving early in the morning. In rush hour, trains and tubes can fill up very quickly, so you may not be guaranteed a seat and may have to stand for some time. This isn’t ideal if you're less mobile or travelling with grand children. It can also be difficult to store luggage on many trains and tubes, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on your bags at all times.
Top tip for train travel: Look at individual train networks’ sites, as they often run early-booking and group travel discounts. The airport express services can be more expensive, so if you have time, consider taking longer trains as a cheaper option.