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10 airport rip-offs and how to avoid them

A Which? investigation has shown how badly people are getting ripped off at airports, plus how to avoid some of the more exorbitant charges

Parking: £417

At London Heathrow’s T5, the drive-up price for seven days’ parking can be as high as £417. Book online in advance and that week will cost £137 instead, saving you £280.

Drop-off and pick-up: £3.50

While some airports don’t charge for drop-off, 10 minutes at London Stansted costs £3.50. Stay any longer and a £50 bill may land on your doormat. One hour at Stansted’s Mid-Stay is free, while Heathrow Long Stay offers two hours gratis, saving you £11.30 on the short-stay price.

Getting there: £25

A 15-minute single journey on the Heathrow Express bought on the day will set you back £25. But you can buy the same ticket 90 days in advance for just £5.50 off-peak, or take the tube for £5.10 with an Oyster or contactless payment card, saving £19.90.

Trolleys: £2

At Bristol and Luton airports, you’ll pay £2 or €2 for using a trolley. At Birmingham airport, it’s €2 or £1, so you’ll save 74p depending on the exchange rate. And don’t pay by card – you’ll be charged an extra 40p.

Water: £2.09

No liquids over 100ml are allowed through security, but a 75cl bottle of Evian can cost £2.09 airside, double what you’d pay in a supermarket. Water is free, however, if you fill up a plastic bottle at one of the water fountains at all Heathrow terminals, Gatwick North and Edinburgh.

Plastic bags: £1

You’ll need a transparent plastic bag to take anything with liquids in your hand luggage. These can cost as much as £1 each at Newcastle airport, but a box of 40 freezer bags at Waitrose costs just £1.99, saving 95p per bag, or £38 if you use each one once.

Mini toiletries: £2.49

The miniatures designed to get past the liquids ban are way more expensive than the ordinary sizes. A 50ml bottle of Original Source Shower Gel can cost £2.49 at the airport. Five times as much gel would cost you just £1.80 in the supermarket and you can easily decant it into a 50ml screw cap bottle (£1.05), saving £1.92 if you use it five times.

Memory cards: £110

There may be deals on offer at some airport shops but there are also spectacular rip-offs. A 64GB Sandisk memory card that costs £37 through Currys online costs £110 at Glasgow International’s Dixons Travel. That’s nearly three times as expensive.

Wi-fi: £5

At Bristol and Glasgow airports anyone who wants to use the wi-fi for more than 60 minutes will be charged £5 for an extra two hours. But many home broadband providers allow free mobile access to wi-fi hotspots. BT, 02, Sky and Virgin Media all have hotspots in some airports, so make sure you check your contract.

Foreign currency: £77

Waiting till you get to the airport to change your currency is never a good idea. At Moneycorp in Stansted Airport if you want €500 you’ll have to pay £511. But order the same amount through Best Foreign Exchange and you’ll pay just £434, saving £77 (rates checked in Feb 2017).

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