We are really fortunate to have London Heathrow Airport as our closest airport. To have 80 different airlines flying to more than 180 destinations across the world is a big bonus when you enjoy travelling. We rarely fly from elsewhere.
Despite living under an hour away, getting to London Heathrow Airport on the other hand is not always quite so straight-forward. There are fortunately plenty of options . When travelling with a lot of luggage and two preschool children though, many of these involve some significant element of planning and coordination, not least the logistics and physical effort involved in the inevitable transport transfers required by the majority.
This time, we were given the chance to try something new on our trip from London Heathrow to Zurich. Purple Parking, one of the UK’s largest airport parking companies, offered to let us test out their Meet and Greet parking experience at London Heathrow Airport.
It couldn’t have come at a better time. We needed to transport not only two week’s worth of luggage for a family of four and two wriggly preschoolers, one of whom has become super-clingy recently. We would also be carrying Roo’s rather unwieldy child car seat to use out in Switzerland. Add on to this that I would be tackling this merry load whilst sporting a 6 month baby bump! It will not come as any surprise that a weight lifted from me as our booking confirmation details for Meet & Greet arrived in my inbox!
Children and luggage were loaded into our car and we were on the road to Heathrow Airport at about 6am on a Sunday in June. We were all a bit bleary eyed – the kids from a combination of early starts and excitement and the adults from having attended a birthday party the night before travelling. We were grateful for the one-step journey to the airport.
Travelling from Terminal 2, our hand-over point was on Level 2 inside the short-stay car park adjacent to the terminal building. Despite our bleary eyes we managed to follow the detailed drop-off instructions without issue (including the all-important one not to use the right hand barrier as you enter the car park). A minute later and we were pulling into a free slot right next to the lifts to the terminal.
Luggage and children were safely unloaded and a member of the team came over to take a few photos of the car. I remember hoping vaguely that it would still qualify as the ‘red’ colour I had recorded on our booking form. We had been down a lot of muddy lanes in the last few weeks!
From there we simply dropped our keys and car park ticket off with the Purple Parking Handover Captain at his stand by the lifts, stowed the flyer with our return details on it safely and set off for the very short stroll into the terminal. Our car would be driven away to Purple Parking’s off-site secure parking facility but as far as we were concerned, our part in the process was over. No wait, no hassle. The whole process took literally a few minutes.
The return journey was equally straight-forward. Upon arrival at Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 we headed through the throng of waiting people towards the short stay car park. Again, this took less than five minutes. It would have been even faster if misleading airport signs hadn’t gone taken us to the wrong floor initially (and we’d reread our return flyer carefully).
Our car was ready and waiting for us parked in the row right next to the lift foyer and in exactly the same condition we had left it in. Sunday lunchtime is obviously a quiet day in the Terminal 2 car park. There were plenty of available Purple Parking assistants waiting on site but it took a minute or so for them to track down the Handover Captain. Getting our keys back and him validating our car park ticket for the exit took under two minutes though. Considerably less time than it took for us to persuade an overwrought Beth to abandon the excitement of the airport and let us strap her into the car for home!
Under two hours late, whilst sitting in the sunshine in our garden, watching the girls play and listening to the faint whir of the washing machine as it kicked into its final spin on the first load of holiday washing, we both commented on how stress-free the whole journey had been. Given it was one of the hottest days of the year so far we felt remarkably cool and calm, no doubt helped by not having had to lug our luggage and travel-weary children onto yet more buses and transfer vehicles upon our arrival at Heathrow.
Would we use Purple Parking’s Meet & Greet service again? When travelling with lots of children, luggage and limited hands-free then the answer is most definitely yes. You cannot fault the convenience and speed of the whole process on both drop-off and collection, something as both a soon-to-be parent of three and someone not known for wasting unnecessary time hanging about at the airport by arriving very early, are both hugely important factors.
Of course, Meet & Greet is more expensive than regular airport parking. A 16 day stay in June like ours currently costs around £160. In comparison our previous parking choice of business parking (involving a short transfer to terminal) would cost around £130 for the same period whilst return airport bus fares, before the required extra parking, taxi or bus fares are added on, would cost around £50 but a whole lot more time and hassle. For times when fast, stress-free family travel is paramount, I’d say the Purple Parking Meet & Greet service is definitely worth it.
For Meet & Greet booking information, locations and prices, please visit the Purple Parking website.
Readers should be aware that I received complimentary parking with Purple Parking at Heathrow with a view to writing about my experience with the Meet & Greet service. All writing, opinions and unfortunately muddy cars remain as ever, entirely my own.