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Airport Parking Niggles: Valuing a Smooth Ride

Jul 3, 2008
I'm one of these people who are disproportionally unsettled by circumstances I'm not familiar with. I'm comforted by routines and knowing what's going to happen next, so when I find myself confronted with something a bit different, I tend to buzz with irritation. Something as small as driving somewhere unknown has been known to fluster me and propel my mood downwards.

My occupation means I am regularly in contact with customer complaints about airport parking and, as I recently flew from Stansted for a week's holiday, I decided I should scrutinise the parking I had pre-booked. I thought it would be interesting to put myself in place of all the people I had read comments from and see if I could relate to the seemingly tedious complaints that inspire people to put pen to paper.

I thought I was perfectly suited to the task because of my own inclination for unnecessary irritability; which I was. I wasn't even driving (usually cause for a little vain popping and teeth knashing) yet I still found plenty of things that made the process pricklier than it could have been.

Firstly, my e-ticket said I should insert my card into the machine at the barrier on entrance. It would then spit out my parking ticket. But it didn't work. Instead I had to just press the button for a ticket, making me wonder whether I might be charged later, despite already having paid to get a cheaper deal.

Such minor things, but it''s the uncertainty you see, it concerns me! Then I was looking for zone T as stated on my ticket. Which was easy enough to find, but it was closed off. So I kept driving around, eventually ending up in zone Z. Obviously another insignificant thing, but my brow was furrowed already.

The next little pothole in my parking experience was the fact that the bus shelter was only large enough to house about 10 people, which it already was when I reached it, so I had to wait for the bus in the rain. The rain wasn't heavy, but enough to dampen my furrows. The bus arrived after only a couple of minutes, though, so they get a big tick there. The transfer was short; only about 5 minutes until I was at Stansted terminal.

Then the holiday happened...giant sausages, illegal road crossings, man-eating flies etc.... and a week later I was back at Stansted (sounds like a more interesting story doesn't it...oh well).

The collection point was easy to find. Another tick. I just missed a bus by seconds but only had to wait about 5/10 minutes for the next one. The driver tried to be funny; I didn't really have the humour for it after my flight but maybe some people appreciated it. Then he asked over the inter-com thing if anyone wanted zone B. Of course nobody answered so he said "ok, onto Zone R then..". Fortunately, I didn't want zone B otherwise that would have been somewhat annoying! Later he asked if anybody wanted zone Z1 - I didn't realise zone Z was broken into numbers !? So a few uncertain people, including myself, called "yes please" and he pulled over. By some happy coincidence I was actually parked in zone Z1 and so didn't have to amble about looking for other areas. Phew.

I didn't have to pay again with the ticket I got from the machine. I presented my e-mail confirmation and there were no questions asked, so I suppose that was ok. Perhaps I'm being pernickety and just generally cranky and objectionable but I'm obviously not alone: I've seen the customer feedback and can now relate to it a bit better.

It goes to show how easily it is to upset people in the stages getting to and from a holiday. We just want to get to our destination with a smooth transition and as little indecision or confusion as possible. In conclusion I've decided the value of a good airport parking service should not be underestimated. Do your research and make sure you pick a provider with a good track record and book through a reliable, professional company. Saving money is always a top priority but getting a quality service and knowing what to expect can also make a big difference to your holiday experience, especially if you are as flapable as myself.
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