When it comes to planning travel, the flight is often considered the start of the trip. It’s not. Getting to the airport is the start of the trip. And if you park your own car at the airport, the parking fees can add up to a significant portion of the trip’s overall cost.
In fact, comparing the costs of airport parking versus taking a taxi or an Uber or a shuttle bus should be an essential pre-trip calculation for most travelers. The difference among the alternatives can be substantial.
While the price of paid transportation options like taxis and Uber tends to be more or less the same in most parts of the country, the price of airport parking varies widely.
Just how widely? A new report from TravelBank ranked the country’s most and least expensive airports, based on a combination of their rates for both short-term and long-term parking.
First, the airports with sky-high rates …
The Most Expensive Airport Parking
1. New York LaGuardia – $59/day short term; $39/day long term
2. Boston Logan – $70/day short term; $26/day long term
3. Seattle-Tacoma – $37/day short term; $30/day long term
4. San Francisco – $36/day short term; $25/day long term
5. (Tie) New York Kennedy – $39/day short term; $18/day long term
5. (Tie) Newark Liberty – $39/day short term; $18/day long term
And, at the other end of the cost spectrum …
The Least Expensive Airport Parking
1. (Tie) Orlando – $17/day short term; $10/day long term
1. (Tie) Charlotte Douglas – $20/day short term; $7/day long term
2. Houston George Bush – $22/day short term; $6/day long term
3. Baltimore Washington – $22/day short term; $8/day long term
4. (Tie) Tampa – $22/day short term; $10/day long term
4. (Tie) Denver – $24/day short term; $8/day long term
5. Honolulu – $18/day short term; $15/day long term
With a more than 6:1 spread between the cheapest and most expensive long-term rates, the cost difference to park for a five-day trip can be more than $150, as much as a cheap air ticket or a hotel room night. Paying $30 to park for five days at Houston is one thing; paying $195 for five days at LaGuardia is something else again.
It’s no wonder that so many flyers press their friends and family into giving them a free ride to the airport.
Reader Reality Check
How do you get to and from the airport?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.