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The most expensive airports for business travellers

Executive airport lounges offer business travellers the chance to squeeze in some pre-flight comfort away from the bustle of the main departure lounge, but the cost can vary widely, our research shows.

We compared the costs of executive lounges – as well as premium parking and other services – at 25 popular UK and international airports to find out which are jetting off with your cash and which offer better value for businesses.

Dubai Airport tops the list with the priciest lounge, with business travellers slamming £200 onto their expenses bill to step foot inside. Closer to home, London City cost £95 to enter and Heathrow terminal 2’s Plaza premium was the third most expensive at a more modest £40.

The top 10 most expensive airport executive lounges:

Rank Airport Name of Lounge Cost for 1 Adult to Access Exec Loungee
1 Dubai Emirates lounge (non member access) £199.60
2 London City First Class Club £95.00
3 London Heathrow T2 Plaza premium £40.00
4 London Heathrow T5 Club Aspire £34.99
5 Frankfurt Sky Lounge £34.07
6 London Gatwick – South No 1 Lounge £32.00
7 Paris AirFrance lounge (non member access) £30.57
8 Toronto Plaza Premium £30.42
9 Atlanta The Club at ATL £30.42
10 London Heathrow T4 Plaza Premium £30.00

Lounge for less

At the other end of the scale, the Narita travel lounge in Tokyo costs under £10 for a visit, or just 5% of the cost of Dubai’s lounge. And London Gatwick North, Glasgow, Amsterdam, Heathrow T3, Birmingham and Stansted all also offered access for £25 and under.

The top 10 cheapest airport executive lounges:

Rank Airport Name of Lounge Cost for 1 Adult to Access Exec Loungee
1 Tokyo Narita Travel lounge £8.74
2 London Gatwick – North My lounge North £20.00
3 Glasgow Upper deck £22.00
4 Amsterdam Aspire Lounge £23.58
5 London Heathrow T3 Club Aspire £24.99
6 Birmingham Aspire lounge £24.99
7 London Stansted Escape lounge £25.00
8 Bristol Aspire Lounge £25.99
9 Edinburgh No 1 lounge £26.00
10 Barcelona Sala VIP Canudas £26.21

Parking premiums

Even if you skip the lounge, airports can still cost a fortune. In particular, busy business travellers seeking no-hassle parking options can get stung – and prices vary widely across different airports.

At Amsterdam Schiphol airport, to park for one week at the terminal, including a valet of your car would set your company back £290.44, the highest price found. Singapore was the second most expensive and only other airport to charge more than £200 (£223.90), followed by Paris which cost £166.84 for a week of pre-booked premium parking. Bristol was the UK’s most expensive airport for a week of premium parking (and the seventh most expensive overall), costing £127.

By comparison, 16 of 25 airports investigated cost under £100 for a week’s no-hassle parking. Barcelona was the cheapest place for business travellers to park at £51.54 for a week, followed by Belfast at £53.99, the second cheapest overall and cheapest in the UK.

The cost of 1 week no-hassle parking:

Rank Airport Cost of Executive / Premium Parking for 1 Week
1 Amsterdam £290.44
2 Singapore £223.90
3 Paris £166.84
4 Dubai £150.11
5 Toronto £145.36
6 Frankfurt £139.76
7 Bristol £126.99
8 Atlanta £108.73
9 London Luton £104.99
10 London City £95.00
11 London Heathrow T4 £94.60
12 London Heathrow T5 £92.80
13 London Heathrow T2 £87.60
14 London Heathrow T3 £87.60
15 Manchester £80.99
16 Birmingham £79.99
17 London Stansted £79.00
18 Glasgow £75.64
19 London Gatwick – North £73.00
20 Tokyo £72.71
21 London Gatwick – South £67.00
22 Edinburgh £61.99
23 Beijing £61.56
24 Belfast International £53.99
25 Barcelona £51.54

Employee extras: expenses exposed

We also researched other common business expenses, including taxi transfers from the airport into the city, the cost of lunch in the business area, a three-course meal for two if entertaining a client, and a night’s stay at a mid-range hotel.

Combining these costs showed business travellers using London Stansted to access the UK capital would incur the highest expenses, whilst Beijing offered the best value.

When it comes to a working lunch, Beijing offered the best value at £6.05 for a lunchtime bite, just 61p less than Singapore and £1.68 less than Tokyo which offered the second and third best value respectively. Meanwhile, Paris proved the most pricey at £13.10.

Paris also topped the list for a night away on business a with likely costs of £166 for one night – four times the cost of best value Beijing which has an average room rate of £41.77 a night.

After Paris, London was the city where business travellers would find their expenses were most stretched, followed by Amsterdam in third.

Closer to home Frankfurt offered second best value on room prices at £78.62, followed by Belfast.

Rank Airport / Destination Basic Lunch for One in the Business District Taxi Costs – Airport to City (one way) 3 Course Meal for Two in a Mid-range Restaurant One Night in a Double Room, Mid-range Hotel Total
1 London Stansted – London £11.00 £293.29 £50.00 £150.00 £608.29
2 Amsterdam £12.23 £53.28 £56.78 £131.03 £567.35
3 London Gatwick – South – London £11.00 £210.53 £50.00 £150.00 £520.53
4 London Gatwick – North – London £11.00 £210.53 £50.00 £150.00 £514.53
5 Dubai £11.39 £6.98 £24.85 £113.88 £506.80
6 London Heathrow T5 – London £11.00 £138.21 £50.00 £150.00 £477.00
7 London Heathrow T2 – London £11.00 £138.21 £50.00 £150.00 £476.81
8 London Heathrow T4 – London £11.00 £138.21 £50.00 £150.00 £473.81
9 London City – London £11.00 £67.38 £50.00 £150.00 £468.38
10 Paris £13.10 £41.84 £48.92 £165.97 £467.24
11 London Luton – London £11.00 £120.42 £50.00 £150.00 £462.90
12 London Heathrow T3 – London £11.00 £138.21 £50.00 £150.00 £461.80
13 Singapore £6.66 £8.66 £27.76 £124.94 £420.93
14 Toronto £9.88 £35.99 £46.52 £98.85 £367.01
15 Bristol £9.00 £29.87 £50.00 £100.00 £341.85
16 Frankfurt £10.48 £26.66 £43.68 £78.62 £333.26
17 Atlanta £10.65 £24.72 £38.02 £95.05 £307.58
18 Birmingham £11.00 £36.62 £50.00 £97.00 £299.60
19 Manchester £9.00 £24.76 £55.00 £97.00 £294.75
20 Tokyo £7.73 £61.15 £33.60 £94.08 £278.01
21 Glasgow £10.00 £36.60 £45.00 £85.00 £274.24
22 Edinburgh £11.00 £21.72 £50.00 £90.00 £260.71
23 Barcelona £9.61 £17.98 £34.94 £96.09 £236.36
24 Belfast International £7.86 £21.44 £37.12 £80.36 £228.28
25 Beijing £6.05 £9.01 £21.99 £41.77 £170.03

Tips for business travellers to limit their expenses

Thankfully, business travellers can take some simple steps to avoid falling foul of some of the sharpest airport costs. These include:

  • If you need access to an executive lounge check your airline – some tickets include access automatically
  • Book airport parking in advance for the best rates
  • If you need cash for your international trip, purchase it early to get the best rates. Don’t rely on expensive airport exchange desks
  • To keep track of multiple expenses on your trip consider a corporate expense card like the FairFX Expense Card solution which offers up-to-date balance checks and top-up request facilities via an app
  • Compare the costs in multiple destinations – it might prove to be better value to fly to a destination further away if on the ground costs are lower
  •  
    With the FairFX Expense Card and Platform you can spend for free in the UK and get great rates overseas. You can also keep track of staff spending with ease.
     
    FairFX Expense Card and Platform
     

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Mariette Ferreira

Mariette Ferreira

Mariette heads up marketing at FairFX. She loves travelling, scuba diving and South Africa, but she's yet to combine all three in one.

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