“ Service: Purple Parking / Type: Airport parking at Heathrow - Meet and Greet service „
NOTE - I requested the Purple Parking Business Plus service and my suggestion was rejected with a link given to this page. So..... yes, I know it's the 'wrong' service I'm reviewing but this is where I was told to put it.
~Doesn't everyone have favourite airport car parks?~
I spend a lot of time in airports - far too much to be good for me, I'm sure. As a result of this I tend to have favourite car parks to which I become very loyal. My previous favourite Heathrow car park has changed hands and I'm not sure who owns it any more, but my latest and greatest find has been Purple Parking Business car park on Bath Rd. I first found this place when I booked 16 nights parking for our holiday in India for just £78 which was an excellent bargain. I had to overcome my reluctance to book with Purple Parking since I'd once had a very nasty incident at their long stay car park where my car had its wiring eaten by rats. Apparently the great German automotive giants make their electrical wiring from cheese - who'd have guessed? For that reason I should confirm that I don't recommend their budget long stay car park at all and this review is only about their 'Business' car park on Bath Rd.
If you check the Purple Parking website (unsurprisingly www.purpleparking.com) there are five different services available for Heathrow. Two are based at their ratty long stay car park and are Long Stay and Long Stay Plus. There's also a meet and greet where it's not clear which car park is used but you don't need to worry as you won't have to go there. The services I recommend are Purple Parking Business and Purple Parking Business Plus - the last of these being their service where they bring the car back to the airport for you at the end of your trip so you can jump in the car and hit the road straight away.
~Checking In and Grading Up~
On our first visit we booked 'Purple Parking Business' via one of the car park price comparison sites. We rolled up a few hours before our flight and drove to the booth to check in and leave our car. The man in the booth was very friendly and efficient, knew my name and greeted me by it. After checking the paperwork, he told us that we could have a 'free upgrade' to their Business Plus service. Considering I'd paid so little to start with, I was amazed by the offer, and since two of my favourite words in the English language are 'Free Upgrade' we eagerly agreed to go ahead. He explained that the upgrade would mean that when we returned 16 days later, we should call the car park as soon as we got off the plane and they would send the car back to the short stay car park. We'd then get the car and the keys back without having to faff about waiting for a shuttle bus. It seemed too good to be true and since we were going to India, it also meant we didn't need to worry about freezing in inappropriate clothes on our return.
Next he explained that we should drive through the barrier to the parking area, slow down "for photographs" at the security camera and then park up on the ground floor. The Purple People would then move our car to a higher floor of the multi-storey car park so we didn't need to go hunting for a space. Once the car was open we should lock it, put the key in the plastic bag with all the details of our booking and hand it to the mini-bus driver who would take us to the airport terminal.
Different minibuses go to different terminals and we had to wait about ten minutes for ours to come along. There was a comfortable, warm seating area where we waited which also had clean toilets, vending machines and if memory serves me right, even a wi-fi connection.
Once the minibus arrived we put our bags in the trailer at the back and climbed inside. The bus driver explained to the passengers that he would go to Terminal three first and then on to terminal one. A passenger who had got caught in traffic and arrived rather later than he'd intended at the car park was asking the driver to go to Terminal one first but the driver explained that he had to go the T3 first as that was the way the airport insisted the buses went. The passenger was looking for a fight until someone else chirped up that we'd all get there a whole lot sooner if he'd just shut up and let us leave.
We were at the terminal five to ten minutes later although you'd need to add a few more minutes for terminal one. Another bus serves terminals 4 and 5 and will of course take a bit longer since they're half-way to Devon.
When we returned we followed the instructions, stepped off the plane, fired up the phone and gave them a call. They reminded us where to meet them although we had all the details on the paperwork. Once our bags had been reclaimed, we headed out to the short stay car park, picked up our keys from the smiley Purple People along with a short stay car park ticket that had been pre-paid and hit the road with smiles on our tired faces.
~Just as good second time around~
A few weeks later I went to Portugal and I needed a place to leave the car again. I checked the comparison sites and found I could get 2 days of the Purple Parking Business for about £22 or for £15 more I could upgrade to Business Plus. Since any of the official onsite car parks would have cost at least as much as the upgraded price and since I was travelling for work, I went for the upgrade. I didn't actually book through the PP website because they don't allow you to enter the arrival and departure hours and so I would have had to pay for three days instead of two since I was arranging to arrive back within 48 hours of leaving the car.
Again I arrived to find that they were expecting me. In fact the guy in the booth greeted me by name, asked if I was OK since I was later than I'd planned to be, and then said I was the last customer booked in that evening. I explained that I was going to a hotel up the road and he arranged for me to hand my keys to the manager in the bus waiting area since I couldn't give them to the bus driver as I wasn't taking the bus.
When I returned, I thought I'd be giving them a bit more of a challenge than on my previous trip. I was in T1 this time and I only had hand luggage so I expected to fly through the airport and that I might catch them out but they were too fast for me. When I walked into the T1 short stay and followed the signs to the valet parking, a smartly dressed man saw me coming, said "Are you Purple?" which I rather liked, and then checked my receipt and gave me my key. "I've warmed her up for you" he said and indeed he had. The heaters were set to 28 C and I wasn't going to worry about my windscreen misting. He was a little fella and had totally buggered my seat position but it was a small price to pay for being able to head straight out of the airport in a warm car. He went off to the car park payment machine to sort out my exit ticket and brought it back to me at the car.
~Well Worth It~
Despite paying considerably less than I would have been charged for 2 nights in the short stay and around the same as one of the on-airport long stays, I felt I'd been treated in a really special way. Because I was staying the night before, it saved me having to park up at the airport, take a hotel shuttle and then go back in the morning, and I got the best of both worlds - a quick departure and a safe secure car park.
I would definitely recommend Purple Parking Business Plus and also recommend booking through one of the car park comparison sites which offers deals with Topcashback if you can. Also book as far ahead as you can to be sure of getting the best prices. If your plans are not quite so firm, it's worth knowing that if you book through the homepage, you can cancel without penalty up to 24 hours before the time of your booking.
If you want to pay a little more you can upgrade again to the full Meet and Greet where you don't ever need to go to the car park at all as they pick up your car from the short stay and deliver it back again. Although that does sound lovely, I'm sceptical about where the cars are being kept and due to the rat problem a few years back, I'd rather know where my car is than take a risk it's somewhere being eaten by rodents.
Purple Parking Meet and Greet
We paid a little more for the meet and greet service as there is nothing worse than arriving at Heathrow after a long flight and then having to go into the bowels of the airport to wait for a bus to take you to the parking lot which is in Southall somewhere then you have to find your way out and on to the M25 before the long drive back to Derby for us.
Saying goodbye to our car:
We were leaving from Terminal 1 at Heathrow so the instructions were to phone 30 minutes before you were going to arrive so that there would be someone there to meet you. We were an hour earlier than booked so I phoned to ask if that was okay. We had made good time with no motorway hold ups for a change. They said that was not a problem and confirmed where we were to meet.
You have to take your car to the passenger drop off point and then take the slight left fork to the valet parking area. A gentleman wearing a Purple parking jacket was waiting for us. He greeted us, checked around the car for any dings or scratches then checked we had all we needed from the car. He took ONLY our car keys so all other keys have to be off the key ring presumably for security and then took our car off to park it off site.
We then crossed over the lanes and walked straight into Terminal 1 departures. This was a very stress free way to leave our car.
What about coming back then?
On our return we had to phone a given number on the receipt once we had cleared passport control etc and then they gave us an estimated time for our car to arrive at exactly the same place as we dropped it off. This was perfect as it was easy to find, not too far to walk and didn't involve lots of lifts and escalators with our luggage.
We had to wait about ten minutes but that was probably my fault as I didn't ring them until we had collected our luggage because we had had a problem with lost luggage before so I didn't want to be worrying about the car arriving if we were having to sort out lost luggage.
The car was as clean as we left it but as we had not paid for it to be valeted we were not expecting it to be cleaner. This was the best part, we were now in our own car and on our way joining the M25 within minutes instead of sitting on a bus going to Southall where we would then have to go and complete the forms before walking to find our car then struggling to find our way from Southall onto the M25 and back on the M1 home.
Next time we go from Heathrow I will certainly pay the extra £15 for the Meet and Greet service as it saved us so much time and stress. The hassles at the end of a long journey are just what you don't need after a long journey in a plane. This was one of our longer flights home and I knew that we would be tired having flown from the Cook islands via Los Angeles to Heathrow so this is why I decided to go mad and spend the extra £15 and it was worth every penny as I think it saved us about 45 minutes of faffing around and stress at the end of a very long journey.
Would you use it again?
A resounding yes indeed I would. It was worth every extra penny. The people we met both collecting and returning our car to us were polite and efficient and didn't squeal off in our car burning rubber when they picked the car up so we felt reasonably confident leaving it in their hands.
Just another note - if booking on line then go through topcashback.co.uk as I have had cashback on every booking I have made which reduces the cost a bit.
Thanks for reading and I hope this has been useful to someone thinking of using this service. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.