* Note: Main Parking Garage price above reflects a higher weekend rate at MDW.
Universal Images Group / DeAgostini / Alamy
With all the extra airline fees these days, the last thing you want is sticker shock at the airport parking lot. But that might be hard to avoid at London Heathrow’s Terminal 4, where prime-time parking prices top $20 an hour—the most expensive airport parking in the world.
How expensive are airport parking lots in America? We posed the question to BestParking, which tabulates costs at 115 airports throughout North America, steering motorists to the cheapest and closest airport facilities.
Interestingly, it’s Chicago that takes home top honors for America’s most expensive airport parking lots. Both Midway and O’Hare feature a rate of at least $35 per day. And while that number is lower elsewhere in the country, the decline isn’t precipitous—leaving your wheels near the terminal can be a pricey proposition, and it’s only getting more expensive.
“Parking prices generally increase with a good economy, but not by much,” says Ben Sann, BestParking’s founder and CEO. “Typical increases are $1 to $2 a year.”
But there are alternatives. Hotel lots have been a rising trend in the parking world over the past five years. “Hotels think, ‘Hey, we have a giant lot and already run a shuttle to the airport—why not get into that market and let people park here?’” explains Sann, noting they’re often the most competitive in terms of pricing. “Entrenched off-airport companies aren’t happy about it.”
And there are disrupters like FlightCar, a service that lets you leave your car near the airport, rents it out while you’re away, and shares the rental fee with you. So not only do you avoid parking fees, but you actually make money. (You can also rent from them.)
But if you’re just looking to save a few bucks, read on for our list of America’s most expensive airport parking lots—and suggested alternatives.
Methodology: All pricing data provided by BestParking on February 12, 2014, via a midweek search of its database. Parking options considered were walkable airport terminal lots and airport economy lots (shuttle bus or tram required), as well as the least expensive off-airport facility. All rates expressed on a per-day drive-up basis, including all taxes and fees (rounded to the nearest dollar). No coupons or advance reservation deals are taken into account, although specials are often available online when prebooking.