This is a collection of reviews and experiences in airports including the car parking in the UK
by catsholiday on June 8, 2013
Purple Parking BusinessWe have recently used Purple Parking meet and greet when using Heathrow but this last flight was very early in the morning and we booked to stay in the Hilton hotel on Bath road and this Purple Parking business car park is just a few blocks from the hotel on the way towards the airport . We decided that it was worth saving the money and using this as it was quite convenient for dropping off and also near enough to the airport that we could get a fairly quick get away on our return too.By using this method we saved about £50 which was about the cost of our hotel for the night. This saved us driving down three and a bit hours in the night and was really just as convenient. The one we try to avoid is where they take your car to Southall and you have to try and find you way out of there after a long flight.We arrived at the car park and the number plate was recognised. They told us to park the car just around the corner then wait in the waiting room. This was a little sparse and had a TV going in one corner so not somewhere you would want to sit for a long time. We didn't have to wait too long and were on the first mini bus of the day as we had such an early flight.The mini bus took us almost to the door of the terminal and in we went .On the way back we had to phone to say we had arrived. The lady told me that we needed to go to the bus stop outside the terminal and told me the number. We had to wait about five minutes for the bus to come . The driver collected our ticket and then we were taken back to the Bath road car park.Our car was waiting, as we had left it. We were on our way very quickly. I would use this service again as it was quite a lot cheaper and almost as convenient as the 'Meet and greet' service really.
by catsholiday on November 8, 2010
Heathrow Terminal 5We usually avoid flying from Heathrow as our previous experiences have been awful. Firstly the Meet and Greet Purple parking Business being so close to the airport helped as we were able to be dropped off almost at the terminal door. The next pleasant surprise was that theBA/ Iberia check in desk did not have a huge queue. We had already checked in for our Heathrow to Madrid but they would not allow us to check in for the longer Madrid to Quito leg so we were a little concerned as to what seats we might get left with. We were greeted by the girl at the desk and manged to get quite okay seats and the luggage was checked through to Quito so ll was as good as it was going to be. We had two seats together in the two seat section so no one next to us at least.The queue had been small and so we were able to go and enjoy a cup of coffee and finish our water before heading through security. There are a number of restaurants upstairs before you go through security so that if you are seeing someone off you can sit and enjoy a coffee or meal together should you choose. Again this is an improvement as when I saw my daughter off to go to Australia a few years ago we couldn’t find anywhere to sit and enjoy a drink before she went through security. I’m not sure which terminal it was but it was not very welcoming. Security was extremely painless compared to some experiences. Firstly I was asked if my liquids were in a plastic bag and then offered a FREE bag. I had already sorted mine but I did tell the nice man that I was made to pay £1 for 3 bags at Birmingham because the bag I had was too big. The fact that there were only three tiny bottles in it seemed to not matter, the bag was a ziplock bag but just a little too big. So well done Heathrow you are better than Birmingham for that.The people at security were very pleasant too, efficient but polite and friendly rather than officious ones we had last trip coming through Terminal 5 not long after it was first opened . I think they must have had a few customer service in service training sessions since then as it was vastly improved this time.Once through security there were plenty of seats and the area was light, fresh and clean. There were quite a few shops willing to take your money. The shops included the usual expensive branded ones including electronic stuff and luggage ( who is it that buys suitcases in airports and what do they do with them?) and many others all selling things you probably would not buy anywhere else and at vastly inflated prices.There were nice clean toilets with flushes that you just waved your hand at, proper dryers that dried your hands and plenty of cubicles in the ladies which made a change. We went and had a coffee and a bite to eat at one of the cafes while we waited.There was plenty of warning to get to the gate which was just as well as ours was the furthest away. They did offer the walkalators in the long passages which take a bit of the strain off as they are softer and also move you forward with very little or no effort should you choose to stand still.Once down at the gate there was just about enough seating for the entire jumbo and they sensibly allowed us on in seat blocks from the back forward except for those who had paid extra for business or first class of course. We still had the problem of people with far too much hand luggage attempting to shove it in the overhead locker. I tell you some people had hand luggage as big as our suitcase!So Heathrow terminal 5 this experience a vast improvement on when we first went through a few years ago. What was even better was that our luggage made it all the way to Quito where previously they lost it at terminal 5 and it arrived home a day later than we did.I am not sure whether we ‘enjoyed’ Terminal 5 on a bad day previously or whether they have undergone a lot of in service training since that time but this was an entirely different experience.On our return everything went very smoothly once again so top marks Terminal 5 Heathrow. The luggage arrived safely on return and passport control was very speedy with our iris recognition passports.. Heathrow has been subjected to plenty of negative press and while it is not the nicest airport in the world, I find Singapore, Hong Kong and Amsterdam Schipol are pretty high in that ranking but it is not the worst by a long mile.
by catsholiday on January 6, 2011
Purple Parking Meet and GreetThis is listed as an attraction as there were other choices but thought it was useful for fellow travellers to know.Why bother?We paid a little more for the meet and greet service as there is nothing worse than arriving at Heathrow after a long flight and then having to go into the bowels of the airport to wait for a bus to take you to the parking lot which is in Southall somewhere then you have to find your way out and on to the M25 before the long drive back to Derby for us.Saying goodbye to our car:We were leaving from Terminal 1 at Heathrow so the instructions were to phone 30 minutes before you were going to arrive so that there would be someone there to meet you. We were an hour earlier than booked so I phoned to ask if that was okay. We had made good time with no motorway hold ups for a change. They said that was not a problem and confirmed where we were to meet.You have to take your car to the passenger drop off point and then take the slight left fork to the valet parking area. A gentleman wearing a Purple parking jacket was waiting for us. He greeted us, checked around the car for any dings or scratches then checked we had all we needed from the car. He took ONLY our car keys so all other keys have to be off the key ring presumably for security and then took our car off to park it off site.We then crossed over the lanes and walked straight into Terminal 1 departures. This was a very stress free way to leave our car.What about coming back then?On our return we had to phone a given number on the receipt once we had cleared passport control etc and then they gave us an estimated time for our car to arrive at exactly the same place as we dropped it off. This was perfect as it was easy to find, not too far to walk and didn’t involve lots of lifts and escalators with our luggage.We had to wait about ten minutes but that was probably my fault as I didn’t ring them until we had collected our luggage because we had had a problem with lost luggage before so I didn’t want to be worrying about the car arriving if we were having to sort out lost luggage. The car was as clean as we left it but as we had not paid for it to be valeted we were not expecting it to be cleaner. This was the best part, we were now in our own car and on our way joining the M25 within minutes instead of sitting on a bus going to Southall where we would then have to go and complete the forms before walking to find our car then struggling to find our way from Southall onto the M25 and back on the M1 home.Next time we go from Heathrow I will certainly pay the extra £15 for the Meet and Greet service as it saved us so much time and stress. The hassles at the end of a long journey are just what you don’t need after a long journey in a plane. This was one of our longer flights home and I knew that we would be tired having flown from the Cook islands via Los Angeles to Heathrow so this is why I decided to go mad and spend the extra £15 and it was worth every penny as I think it saved us about 45 minutes of faffing around and stress at the end of a very long journey.Would you use it again?A resounding yes indeed I would. It was worth every extra penny. The people we met both collecting and returning our car to us were polite and efficient and didn’t squeal off in our car burning rubber when they picked the car up so we felt reasonably confident leaving it in their hands.Just another note – if booking on line then go through topcashback.co.uk as I have had cashback on every booking I have made which reduces the cost a bit.Thanks for reading and I hope this has been useful to someone thinking of using this service. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name. ©Catsholiday
Heathrow Terminal 1We usually avoid flying from Heathrow as our previous experiences have been awful. Firstly the Meet and Greet Purple parking helped as we were able to arrive virtually at the terminal door. The next pleasant surprise was that the Air New Zealand check in desk was just to the right of the door we came in and to make things even better the check in desks were open a full four and a half hours before the flight time. We were greeted by the young girl at the start of the queue and she asked if we had our ESTA as we were having to get off at LA, go through passport control and collect our luggage, go through customs then hand it in to the Air New Zealand staff just after customs before going through security again in LAX for our flight to Apia in Samoa.The queue worked its way through fairly painlessly and then we were able to go and enjoy a cup of Costa coffee and finish our water before heading through security. There are a number of restaurants upstairs before you go through security so that if you are seeing someone off you can sit and enjoy a coffee or meal together should you choose. Again this is an improvement as when I saw my daughter off to go to Australia a few years ago we couldn’t find anywhere to sit and enjoy a drink before she went through security. I’m not sure which terminal it was but it was not very welcoming. Security was extremely painless compared to some experiences. Firstly I was asked if my liquids were in a plastic bag and then offered a FREE bag. I had already sorted mine but I did tell the nice man that I was made to pay £1 for 3 bags at Birmingham because the bag I had was too big. The fact that there were only three tiny bottles in it seemed to not matter, the bag was a ziplock bag but just a little too big. So well done Heathrow Terminal 1 you are better than Birmingham for that.As we were heading through to passport control and security I was following my husband who had our documents, he went one way and another counter person beckoned me so I went that way. She asked for my boarding card and when I explained she and the other girl both teased me. It was so nice to have human beings with a pleasant attitude to deal with. The people at security were very pleasant too, efficient but polite and friendly rather than officious like the ones we had last trip coming through Terminal 5.Once through security there were plenty of seats and the area was light, fresh and clean. There were quite a few shops willing to take your money. The shops included the inevitable, Smiths, Tie Rack, Duty free, a chocolate shop, Fat Face, Bally, Chanel, luggage ( who is it that buys suitcases in airports and what do they do with them?) and many others all selling things you probably would not buy anywhere else and at vastly inflated prices.There were nice clean toilets with flushes that you just waved your hand at, proper dryers that dried your hands and plenty of cubicles in the ladies which made a change. We chose not to eat at the caviar shop but enjoyed my nicely made ham and cheese with lettuce and tomato sandwiches while we waited.There was plenty of warning to get to the gate which was just as well as ours was the furthest away. They did offer the walkalators in the long passages which take a bit of the strain off as they are softer and also move you forward with very little or no effort should you choose to stand still.Once down at the gate there was just about enough seating for the entire jumbo and they sensibly sat us from the back forwards and didn’t allow people to queue jump. This way you didn’t have to wait while those with far too much hand luggage attempted to shove it in the overhead locker. I tell you some people had hand luggage as big as our suitcase!So Heathrow I forgive you. Terminal 1 was a far better experience than we had at terminal 5 earlier in the year when we were treated rudely by security staff and then had our luggage sent somewhere other than Birmingham. It did turn up with a courier the next day but what a waste of money.I am not sure whether we ‘enjoyed’ Terminal 5 on a bad day or whether the staff at terminal 1have had better staff training but it was an entirely different experience.On our return everything went very smoothly once again so top marks Terminal 1 Heathrow. I am impressed until my next unpleasant experience then perhaps I might rethink my views.Thanks for reading. I just felt that I should write a positive review as I had given Heathrow plenty of negative press prior to this experience. It is not the nicest airport in the world, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong and Amsterdam Schipol are pretty high in that ranking but it is not the worst by a long mile.
by catsholiday on February 12, 2011
APH Parking Birmingham AirportThe parking here is off site and the place where you leave your car is just off the M42/A446 roundabout at somewhere called Hams Hall. We choose this facility as it is most convenient for us as we come from Derby along the A38 onto the A446 and we are there at the car park and the journey takes about 45minutes from home.Prior to arriving at the car park you need to book and pay for your parking stating when you are going to be leaving , how many passengers in the car, your registration number and then the flight number and time of your return flight. We paid about 40 pounds for 12 days but as I booked through Topcashback I got about 5 pounds back.As you get to the car park you have to drive up to the gate which opens slowly to allow you to drive in. You then park your car in a waiting area and leave it unlocked having removed all your things from it. You make your way to the small office hut and your details of the on line booking are checked and your return flight details confirmed. You then hand in your car key ONLY, no other keys must be on the key ring and hop onto the bus which is usually waiting beside the office door.The bus has plenty of luggage space at the front and often the driver will help you get it on but this does depend on the driver at the time. There are seats for those with disabilities and also the seats at the front are to be given up if elderly or other needy people require them. The seats behind are quite tight and with two people and hand luggage you don’t have a lot of room if the bus is full. Seat belts are provided and there is a sign saying that you must wear them but I did notice a lot of passengers do ignore this rather stupidly.The bus then takes you to terminal 2 at the airport as there are no bus stops at terminal 1, however the entire airport can be accessed from within the one long building so out is only a matter of walking through. The journey in the bus takes from 25 minutes but it can be longer in busy traffic times. They do seem to avoid using the M42 all the way so maybe they go a route less travelled but I have to admit that despite having used this service at least a dozen times I don’t really pay much attention. This is probably as a great number of our journeys are in the very early hours so I really don’t care so long as it gets us there.On the return journey you have to phone the APH office from courtesy phone near carousel 6 in the luggage collection area. You give your name and the number of passengers and then collect your cases and make your way out into the cold to wait for the bus more or less in the same area as it dropped you off. We have never had to wait longer than 10 minutes for a bus which I think is excellent service.The bus then takes you back to the car park where you head into the office, show your card, collect your key and the make your way to your car which is parked in a bay fairly close by. They tell you which row and area it is in. You then use the four digit code given to you when you collected your keys to exit the car park and make your way back home.We have found their service first class every time we have used them. We have tried other car parks in the area and this is by far the best and most convenient for us. We also tried using the train but never again as we spent over an hour in New Street station being delayed and sent from platform to platform which was no joke with luggage after a long overnight flight.According to a sign I noticed as we dropped our car today APH have been awarded an excellence in Airport parking award in 2010 .I am not sure how many were in the competition or who awarded the merit but well done to them!So if you are planning a flight from Birmingham airport then I can certainly recommend this off airport parking for value, car safety and convenience. It is particularly useful if you are coming from the north of Birmingham as the car park is on that side before you drive passed the airport.APH also offer hotel and parking, hotel booking and other travel assistance but as I have not used those services I cannot comment on their usefulness. Booking needs to be done on line or by phone, www.aphparking.com and if you go through Topcashback you do get a good percentage cashback.Thank you for reading and I hope you might find this useful if flying from Birmingham.
Birmingham AirportAs often as we can we choose to fly from Birmingham Airport as it is our closest long distance airport to Derby. East Midlands is far closer but the number of flights and possible destinations is limited so on about 75% of our journeys we leave from BHX Birmingham International Airport.Birmingham Airport is far smaller than Heathrow ,Gatwick or Manchester I believe but bigger than East Midlands or Coventry. I can’t speak for any other airports in the UK as I have not flown from any others. At BHX there are two terminals but they are housed in the same long building and it is an easy walk between the two all within the building.It is possible to get the train into Birmingham from the airport and then connect with many other places by rail. There are also coaches that will take you into the city and then connect to other places. We have used the train and it worked well until we got really delayed at Birmingham New Street so I don’t think we will bother with that again.We use APH car park at hams Hall which is an offsite airport car park (see my review) and we get dropped and picked up outside terminal 2. When it is cold we make our way straight into terminal 2 and walk through the airport to terminal 1 where most long distance flights leave from. It is about a 5 minute walk. The last flight we took was to Dubai with Emirates and check in was super quick as we had checked in on line and only had to drop off our bags. Previously we have flown with KLM and then it is also possible to check in on line and this is normally a fairly speedy and painless process.Downstairs in Terminal 1 there are a couple of cafes and shops prior to departure so you can have a drink there with your check in luggage if you arrive too early. It is possible to go upstairs where there are far more possibilities for eating but you will have to use the lift or the escalator. I do like the fact that you can sit with departing passengers and enjoy a meal or drink with them in relatively pleasant surroundings even if you are not travelling yourself.Once you have relieved yourself of your checked in bags then you can wait in the area I have described and use the computers with wifi there, at a price of course or you can make you way through security to the departure area.They have recently spent quite a bit of money upgrading the security area and it di work much faster today than it has in the past. I was really fed up when we flew from here last January as I had put my little bottles of liquid in a ziplock see through plastic bag, but the ‘jobsworth’ at security decided that the bag was too big – there were only 3 small bottles in it and made me buy his bag at a quid for 3. I was not best pleased I can tell you.This time I didn’t take any liquids but I noticed the lady in front had a plastic toiletry bag, not even a ziplock plastic bag and she was let through. Interestingly my husband found our house key in his pocket after we had been through and that didn’t seem to be a problem and I had two lipsticks and mascara in my bag. Anyway we got through without fuss and in good time and entered the departure waiting area which had not changed.There are no water fountains or anywhere else to get free water once through security so you have to buy their expensive bottles of water for a pound plus for each bottle.There are plenty of rather hard wooden seats to sit on or you can use the various café around and purchase something to find yourself a more comfortable place to sit. The choices in terminal 1 include, Costa Coffee, Yates, Burger King (not much more comfortable seats there) ,Prêt a manger and a Wetherspoons. If eating and drinking don’t grab you then browse the Duty Free, Claire’s, WH Smiths, Dixons, Tie Rack or Boots or go and waste some money on the games machines or use the internet at 1 pound for 10 minutes. There is not a lot here but enough to allow you to walk around and look for about 10 minutes or longer if like my daughter you can read a magazine or book while in the shop! We usually buy a drink at Costa coffee and settle in one of their comfortable leather sofas until we begin to feel we have outstayed our drink’s worth of comfort then we move out to the less comfortable wooden seats in the main area. There are plenty of toilets and every time I have used them they have been clean and there has NEVER been a queue. The toilets are the hands free flush ones. The soap you have to push but the taps are hands free as is the air dryer. Unfortunately the door opens inwards to leave the toilet area and so you are forced to touch the handle to get out. I have been reliably informed by a doctor that many people do not wash their hands after using the toilet and so the handle of the doors are as germ ridden as the last person’s germy hands so I always try to push open a door with my body or touch the handle with just my little finger, this door was far too heavy for that.Depending on your departure gate you could have a fairly long walk but it is all flat so wheelie carryon luggage is a must I have discovered. Most planes seem to hook up to a walk way and I can’t remember the last time I have had to get into a bus at the departure gate to take us to a plane. It was certainly a few years ago and it was from terminal 2 to a European destination in a small plane so it might not have fitted on to the walkway connectors.If you live in the Midlands then it is definitely the airport to fly from. It is small enough to be fuss free and obviously for us it is an hour down the road as opposed to a good 3 hours to Heathrow and further to Gatwick. It is closer, convenient and has flights that go to most places in the world or at least connect with them. If East Midlands offered that same service we would fly from there but BHX is the next best one for us and offer a good reliable service with a small but still a good number of destinations and airlines to be useful.On arrival back at Birmingham once again you have quite a walk to get from the plane to security then the luggage carousels so be prepared for this. Passport control moves quite quickly usually and then you just wait anxiously for your cases to turn up. There is a duty free shop on the way out so you can buy you booze after your flight which makes sense as it saves all the weight and flammable liquid flying around the world, I think all airports should do this but unless you know it is possible at your arrival airport then you have to take pot luck as to whether you can buy it as you arrive rather than carry it with you on the plane. It also makes sense with regard to the liquid restrictions if you are having to transfer from one flight to another to complete your journey.Thanks for reading. Hope I have given you a further airport choice if you live in the area. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.© Catsholiday
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