Travel Hacks: How to get the VIP airport service without flying first class

 

I’d love to fly first class every time I travel but, the sad reality is, I turn right almost every time I get on a plane. I tell myself I’d rather save my precious pennies and spend them a gorgeous hotel and amazing experiences once I reach my destination. This is true, but I think we’d all be in first class if we could afford it!

After years of flying I have found some affordable ways to have a VIP airport experience without forking out for a first class flight – so at least you can pretend you’re flying first class until the moment you reach the plane.

I also use all of these services when I’m flying with my baby son. Airports are stressful enough but when you add a baby to the equation they get even worse! So these services make the whole airport experience hassle free and add a touch of luxury to begin your holiday.

If you’re travelling for a special occasion, I recommend booking these services as a surprise for the person or people you’re travelling with. They’ll get a great surprise when you whisk them through security and treat them to champagne in a luxe lounge.

 

Meet and greet at the airport

Unless I’m flying from London I always drive to the airport and use a meet and greet service for airport parking. Some people think this is an extravagance but once you’ve done it there is no going back to using budget airport parking where the car park is 5 miles away!

I’ve had too many long flights home where I arrived tired, groggy and weighed down by heavy cases. I’m usually inappropriately dressed too after coming from a hot climate. It’s taken an hour to get through security (the realities of Manchester Airport!) It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s raining and then I have to wait 20 minutes for a bus to take me to my car. And then I have to find my car in the dark (much harder than you’d think!) while dragging my heavy case around a soggy car park while my flip flops spray puddles up my bare legs.

At this point, I’d pay any amount of money for a guy to be waiting at the airport doors with my keys – preferably with the heaters already blasting and the seat bum warmers switched on.

Meet and greet rarely costs much more than the budget car parks – especially when booked in advance – and I think it’s a service well worth upgrading to.

Top tip: Book as far in advance as you can to get the best rates. APH Airport Parking and Hotels are really good.

VIP airport experience

Fast track through security

For less than a fiver you can pay to go through the fast track lanes at security. This is probably the best fiver you’re going to spend all day. I like to whizz through quickly and get to the other side as fast as I can.

Note: This isn’t usually worth it if you’re flying first thing in the morning when the airports are really quiet.

 

Airport Lounge

Did you know you don’t need to be flying premium economy, business or first class to get into an airport lounge? I know, amazing!

Most airports have a luxury lounge you can pay to enter – usually costing around £20. Now, I don’t know about you but I’ll quite easily spend £20 in the airport on coffee, something to eat, maybe a glass of wine or a beer, some snacks and an arm full of magazines. All of these things are included in an airport lounge such as an all you can eat buffet, hot meals, alcoholic drinks, WiFi, stacks of magazines and soft drinks. But you’re also getting the tranquility of a luxury lounge with quiet areas, comfortable sofas and movie areas. Worth every single penny!

Note: I’d book in advance for a cheaper rate as once they’re full they don’t allow anyone else in.

I’m a fan of No.1 Traveller Lounge – they also have a VIP Departure Service if you’re feeling really flash. Upgrade to the Champagne Package if you’ve got something to celebrate.

 

Go Luggage Free

A true VIP wouldn’t be weighed down with luggage and you don’t need to be either. Concierge services like airportr will deliver your luggage to and from the airport from your home, hotel and office. This is a great service if you’ve got a lot of luggage or you’re taking public transport to the airport. There’s nothing worse than navigating the London Underground with heavy bags at rush hour! Prices start from only £15 so it’s much cheaper than taking a cab.

TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel. Monica has recently had her second baby and is determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

SHOWHIDE Comments (10)
    1. I’ve taken George into two and it’s been absolutely fine. The second one we went in was filled with business people so I was really worried but they must have been business people who missed their kids because they all loved him.
      At Birmingham airport No.1 Traveller lounge has an upstairs that was empty so I let him crawl around there and use up some energy!

  1. Great tips, we always use meet and greet – or rather we choose the parking company that will collect your car from you and return it – it’s very reasonable. Some will even clean your car. I like the idea of paying to go through fast track security but how/where do you do this? We travel from Heathrow regularly. Thanks!

    1. You can usually pay for a fastrack pass through someone like APH Parking, No.1 Traveller lounge or direct from the airport website. But I’ve just checked the Heathrow site and it does say that you can’t pay for Fast Track at Heathrow as they’ve upgraded their security process and everyone should get through within 5 minutes – http://www.heathrow.com/airport-guide/terminal-facilities-and-services/fast-track#eligibility So, fingers crossed, you shouldn’t need it anyway.

  2. Even with all the traveling I’ve done I’d never thought about seeing if I could pay to get into a lounge. Wow. You totally just changed the way I intend to travel.

    1. Amazing – that’s what I like to hear! Definitely give it a go – especially if you’re anything like me and spend a fortune in the airport anyway. Sometimes I can actually save money by going into a lounge as I don’t spend an hour wandering around Duty Free!

  3. I am a total Meet and Greet convert – I tested it for the first time when my daughter was about 10 months old, and I was travelling solo with her, and I am absolutely never going back. It’s just so much less stressful, and usually not much more. I’ve paid for the lounge before now too (although these days, I usually end up in airport soft play…) but definitely need to check out the security fast pass.

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The Travel Hack

The Travel Hack is a blog about stylish adventure travel and affordable luxury.

We believe luxurious travel can be affordable and isn't just for the rich. Follow along with our worldwide adventures as we share our trips and tips for incredible travel experiences on a modest budget.