A few years ago, I signed up for a vacation tour in Italy. The getaway, which was a great deal, included air and departed from Boston's Logan Airport, an easy commute from Hartford.
Parking at Logan, however, was not such a good deal — coming in at more than $225 for the 10 days we'd be gone. I checked around for alternatives and came up short, until a friend suggested a park-stay-fly option.
The concept is simple — book a room at an airport hotel, stay one or more nights, and get as many as 21 days of free parking.
We found a hotel offering the program, paid $85 for our hotel room and drove in the night before our departure. The next morning, we enjoyed a free breakfast, then hopped the free shuttle to the airport. When we returned, the shuttle picked us up and brought us back to our car.
Hotel, breakfast and parking for less than half the cost of parking alone? A no brainer, but if someone hadn't tipped me off, I'd never have known.
Turns out there are many ways to save on airport parking.
Online comparison price sites can help travelers find the best deals. At www.AirportParkingReservations.com, consumers can plug in departure airports and dates of travel, get a list of parking deals at more than 80 airports, including Logan, JFK and LaGuardia, and book their spaces online. The Connecticut-based company also operates www.parksleepfly.com, which provides listings of hotels offering free parking with stays, including a number near Bradley.
"Parking at airport terminals has gotten more and more expensive and more and more crowded and consumers are looking for alternatives," says Rebecca Mertz, community manager for AirportParkingReservations.com. "They have learned to shop around for deals on other aspects of travel and they can do the same with airport parking."
With Thanksgiving and Christmas just ahead, you might want to check out your options sooner than later — especially if you're flying from New York or Boston. Major airport lots can fill up and paying full price can cut into your holiday travel budget.
Here's some ways to save:
>>Comparison shop. Along with AirportParkingReservations.com and ParkSleepFly.com, you can check www.LongTermParking.com, www.park-stay-fly.com, www.airportparking.com and www.onestopparking.com for the best deals.
>>Wherever you park, check company websites for loyalty programs, discounts and coupons — and ask about special savings for seniors, military and other special interest groups. At Roncari Express Valet Parking at Bradley, UCONN Huskies fans, (who print out a special coupon at www.roncarivalet.com and bring along a UCONN Huskies ticket stub), get 20 percent off the regular price of their stay.
>>Look into park, stay, fly offers. Sheraton Hartford Hotel at Bradley Airport, located between terminal A and B at Bradley International Airport offers covered, secure parking for up to seven nights, with a one-night stay. Room rates start at $139 a night for Friday and Saturday stays; $249 for Sunday through Thursday stays. (If you're a Triple A member, you can get a discount on this rate.) Information: www.StarwoodHotels.com/sheraton.
>>At the Econo Lodge Inn & Suites Bradley Airport, the Sleep, Park and Fly Package includes free parking for up to 15 nights and free roundtrip airport transportation with a one-night stay. Rooms start at $89. Information: www.econolodge.com.
>>Before you decide where you're parking, check on the amenities. Some higher-priced lots offer oil changes and car washes (at extra charge) while you're gone, clear the snow off your car in the winter and offer assistance if you come home to a flat tire or dead battery.
>>But you can find some of those perks at lower-priced lots as well. At Bradley's Galaxy Self Park, parking is just $5.95 a day, ($37.50 a week). You'll park your car yourself, but the company clears snow off your car and provides dead battery assistance. Information: www.galaxyselfpark.com.