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Direct Line Insurance : Brits could pay £105 million a year in airport drop-off fees once traveller numbers return

10/01/2021 | 11:32am EST
Brits could pay £105 million a year in airport drop-off fees once traveller numbers return
4min read
01 Oct 2021
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  • Of the 20 busiest airports in the UK, 17 of them charge drop-off fees, with an average cost of £3.54 per drop-off
  • Heathrow is the latest airport to introduce a drop-off fee, charging motorists £5 from November
  • Nearly 18 million people (44 per cent) think drop off fees are unfair additional costs for motorists
  • More than a quarter of Brits who fly (26 per cent, or 13.8 million) use drop-off zones when travelling to and from an airport

New research from Direct Line Travel Insurance reveals that Brits could shell out more than £105 million in airport drop-off fees annually once traveller numbers return to their pre-Covid levels1.

Of the 20 most popular airports in the UK, (which account for 97 per cent of all air traffic) 17 of them charge such fees, with the average cost standing at £3.54. Heathrow is set to introduce a £5 drop off charge from November but is one of the last airports to add such a cost, with the next three most popular airports (London Gatwick, London Stansted and Manchester) all charging similar drop-off fees, withsome airports having introduced drop-off charges over a decade ago.

London Stansted has the most expensive drop off charge, at £7 per visit, while London Gatwick and Manchester also charge £5 for drop offs. Over the course of a year, Heathrow passengers could be paying out £33.4 million collectively assuming passenger numbers return to normal in 2022, while passengers to London Gatwick could pay £14.5 million and passengers to Manchester pay nearly £12 million.

Overall, more than a quarter of Brits (26 per cent or 13.8 million) use such drop-off zones when travelling to and from an airport, with only14 per cent (7.6m) taking a taxi and 12 per cent (6.2 million) being given a lift by a friend or family member3.

The amount passengers use such drop-off zones varies by airport. The most frequently used is Liverpool Airport, where 56 per cent of passengers are dropped off. Manchester and Glasgow airports are the next most frequently used, with 40 per cent of travellers at both airports using the drop-off zones.

Table one: Drop off fees by 10 most popular airports in the UK


Drop-Off Zone usage fee

Share of passengers who use Drop-Off Zones

Estimated number of passengers using Drop-Off Zones4

London Heathrow


33 per cent

27.0 million

London Gatwick


31 per cent

14.6 million



40 per cent

11.9 million

London Stansted


29 per cent

8.1 million

London Luton


36 per cent

6.6 million



29 per cent

4.3 million



32 per cent

4.0 million



40 per cent

3.6 million



24 per cent

2.1 million

Belfast International


24 per cent

1.5 million

Source: Direct Line Travel Insurance 2021

Nearly half (44 per cent) of air travellers, some 18 million people, are against the drop off fees, believing them to be an unfair additional cost for motorists. Seven million Brits (17 per cent) would even consider taking another form of transport to avoid paying the fee. However, what many may not know is that 90 per cent of the airports still provide alternative free drop-off zones for passengers, usually slightly further away and connected to the main airport through a shuttle.

In the last 12 months only 22 per cent of Brits (nine million) have flown, making a total of 17.3 million flights. In good news for the industry however, it is expected that Brits will exceed this number over the course of the rest of 2021 alone, with the lifting of travel restrictions leading to an estimated 17.8 million flights between now and the end of the year, and an extra 2.4 million adults flying - an increase of 27 per cent.

Tom Bishop, Head of Direct Line Travel Insurance said: "While holidaymakers will find them frustrating, the introduction of these charges is understandable given the huge financial strain put on airports during the pandemic, coupled with uncertain traveller volumes in the near future. However, since Heathrow is one of the last airports to soon introduce the fee, with most having some form of one, it is important that as travellers return to airports they are aware of the drop-off fees which they may incur, as well as alternative options available to them. Indeed, those who are not willing to pay such fees for a more convenient drop off should check if the airport has a free drop-off zone, as well as considering alternative public or private transfer options."

For more information on Direct Line Travel Insurance visit www.directline.com/travel-insurance.

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

1 Desk research conducted on the UK's 20 most popular airports, looking at travel numbers (based on 2019 data) as well as drop-off policy and fees. Drop-off zone income calculated based on the number proportion of omnibus respondents who state that they arrive at their selected top 20 airport by lift or taxi, with a conservative assumption of four passengers per vehicle.

2 https://www.heathrow.com/transport-and-directions/terminal-drop-off-charge

3 Research commissioned with Opinium between 10th - 14th September 2021 among 2,000 UK adults.

4 Based on reported 2019 passenger volumes

For further information please contact:

Simon Henrick
Head of News and Issues, Direct Line
Direct Line Group

Tel: 01651 831 668
Email: [email protected]

Samantha Stewart

Citigate Dewe Rogerson

[email protected]

0207 025 6497

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com/car-cover


Direct Line Insurance Group plc published this content on 01 October 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 01 October 2021 15:31:03 UTC.

© Publicnow 2021
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