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December 9, 2021

How to Decide if Airport Parking is Worth the Splurge

While scheduling a flight, you’ve probably asked yourself if you should park at the airport when you fly somewhere. The airport is hoping you’ll say yes, but parking at an airport provides little value for you, the luggage, and potentially the other passengers in your car in most cases.

Parking Off-Airport is Always Cheaper

Say you want to park and fly from Toronto airport using a parking app, like One Stop Parking.

On average, you’ll save $10.00 each day on your parking rates, even if you use most of the closest self-parking parkades next to Pearson Airport. Parking at Pearson overnight costs $23 minimum per day for the value parking lot, and that doesn’t include cover, valet, or gates.

You may also forget about other add-on costs, like damage that may incur from a heavy storm. If you live in Canada or the Northern US, snowstorms, rainstorms, and hail could ruin your car.

Most off-airport parking lots also include an airport shuttle, meaning you don’t have to spend money on a taxi or rideshare company from the hotel. Plus, most hotels that allow others to park in their lots won’t ask you to stay overnight, but if you do, you’ll save a lot on your room.

Airport Parking Will Always be Expensive

Unless we’re talking about a “best-case scenario,” where you’ve saved up your frequent flyer miles to get free, short-term parking, airport parking will always be the most expensive option.

There are ways to save on airport parking, which would make this option less unsavory. If you’re a frequent flyer and haven’t already signed up for an airline’s frequent flyer miles program, you should do so immediately. You’ll save on flights, hotels, airport parking, and seat upgrades.

Here are a few ways you can save on airport parking:

Use coupons to save up to 90% at your local airport.
Avoid short-term parking, as it’s not meant for overnight parking and costs more.
Book in advance, as you can save 50-70% this way.
Research your current memberships. For example, AAA members can save on parking.
Travel outside of peak times, like holidays, as parking is often more expensive.
Join the Spot Club, which allows you to earn your way to free parking.

As a side note, if you have an electric car and you live in Hawaii, you can park an electric car for free. Otherwise, free parking is only available with memberships or by third-party club members.

When is Airport Parking Worth the Splurge?

Sometimes, you just want to splurge on airport parking. Here are a few reasons to do so.


Convenience is the main reason why you’d want to splurge on parking. While airport hotels aren’t necessarily inconvenient, you still have to pack your own car, wait up to an hour for a shuttle, and then haul your luggage into the shuttle before you make it to the airport.

Procrastination/Last Minute

If you’re dangerously close to missing your flight and you haven’t made reservations for parking, either due to a last-minute booking or procrastination, it’s more than worth it to pay for parking. It’ll cost you more money to find off-airport parking and pay for a new flight in most cases.

May Include Free Maintenance

Most of the bigger airports will have mechanics or car washes on site that are free to use if you pay for parking. If you pay for a valet, they can take your car for scheduled maintenance or wash. This prevents your vehicle from stalling due to a used-up battery or a faulty engine.

May Prevent Break-Ins

It’s actually quite common for cars that stay untouched in a parking lot for several days to sustain a bit of damage, usually from your tires deflating, cracks caused by ice, or break-ins. Most big airports have 24/hr surveillance or security guards that patrol the area for thieves.

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