The Next Big Fee in Air Travel? A “Drop-Off Charge” at Airports.

Both London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports will charge almost any car that drops off passengers outside of a terminal

A drop off and a pick up point at Heathrow's Terminal 5. Drop-offs will now cost an extra fee.
A drop-off and pick-up point at Heathrow's Terminal 5.
Lewis Clarke / Creative Commons License

Heathrow Airport is about to impose a new fee that’s going to affect pretty much all passengers and, unfortunately, start a trend among other airports that have seen their revenue steeply decline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to travel site The Points Guy, London’s Heathrow Airport will start implementing a £5 “Terminal Drop-Off Charge” for anyone dropped off outside airport terminals — be it in a personal car, taxi or ride-hailing service like Uber.

The airport will reportedly use number plate cameras instead of ticket barriers to track cars that owe a fee, which will be paid online or over the phone. And yes, you can expect this to become a regular fee at other worldwide airports.

A similar fee was introduced at London’s Gatwick Airport earlier this year. As for getting around the charge? Well, if you’re simply picking up someone, you don’t have to worry … if you were already correctly following airport rules. “This will not impact passenger pick-up, which should continue via the car parks, as picking up passengers is not permitted on the terminal forecourts,” the airport said in a statement. As well, you could use the long-stay car parks for drop-off and take a free shuttle bus, but, really, that’s not a great option for most harried travelers.

According to the Heathrow Airport website, “This charge forms part of our updated Surface Access strategy and sustainable travel plans. We updated these plans after reviews were conducted of all airport projects in light of the collapse in passenger numbers experienced at Heathrow due to the impacts of the pandemic and the subsequent loss of £5 million a day. This review included looking at Surface Access projects with the aim being that environmental impacts will continue to be prioritised and reduced, whilst we also protect the business and jobs. This charge goes some way in helping us to achieve this. ” 

Earlier this week Heathrow Airport announced cumulative losses of £2.9 billion related to the COVID-19 crisis. The new charge is expected to raise about £100 million per year.


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