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A Costly Journey: which airport in Europe is the most expensive

Have you ever wondered where the most expensive airports in Europe were? ALPEN AIR airline has done the research for you, presenting a comprehensive price comparison that highlights the expenses associated with 20 of the region's most significant airports.

This detailed analysis zooms in on seven key cost items that travellers commonly encounter during their airport experience. From long-term parking fees and taxi rides to public transportation tickets, coffee prices, burgers behind security control, access to exclusive airport lounges, and even a night's stay at airport hotels, we'll delve into the financial landscape of these European airports. Get ready for insights that will help you navigate the potential budget hurdles that await at these prominent travel hubs.

Long-term parking: Nowhere is it as expensive as at Berlin's BER

Indulging in the luxury of driving your own car to the airport and leaving it there for a few days comes with a price tag. At Hamburg Airport, the 24-hour parking fee of 30 euros seems relatively affordable in comparison to some other airports. For example, Berlin's airport, BER, takes the crown for the most expensive long-term parking in Europe. With a hefty daily rate of 70 euros in the parking garage, no other airport on the continent can match Berlin's sky-high prices.

Meanwhile, Munich, Cologne/Bonn, and Frankfurt charge a daily rate of 39 euros, and Stuttgart follows closely at 35 euros. For travelers seeking the most budget-friendly option, Istanbul Airport offers a steal at just three euros per day for long-term parking.

What makes burgers so expensive at airports?

Organised people might find themselves arriving at the airport hours before their flights are supposed to take off and might therefore end up being hungry. Burgers are a popular and easily accessible snack enjoyed by many. Fast food chains can be found in airports worldwide, offering travellers a convenient dining option.

However, it's worth noting that prices for burgers can vary significantly between different destinations. For example, at Istanbul Airport, you can find the cheapest burger priced at around 2.66 euros. In contrast, the same meal at Dublin Airport in Ireland is three times more expensive, averaging around 8.65 euros. These price differences can add up, especially if you're traveling with your family or frequently visiting Dublin as a frequent flyer.

Airports provide a wide range of options for retail, dining, and other services beyond the security control gates. However, due to their exclusive location and the special security measures in place, prices for goods and services tend to be higher. This is because all items intended for sale within the airport premises must go through the security checkpoint, which can contribute to increased costs.

Mallorca is one of the cheapest airports in Europe

At least when it comes to coffee to go, there are no strikingly exorbitant prices at European airports. At Palma de Mallorca Airport, passengers can get a cup of coffee for approximately 1.53 euros. On average, takeaway coffee at European airports is not more expensive than in city-centre cafes, with an average price of 2.91 euros.

Pricewise, Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI) stands out as relatively affordable across all expense items. A taxi from the airport to the city centre costs only 25 euros. By bus, one can reach the centre of Palma for approximately 1.95 euros. A burger as a snack in the security area costs around five euros. In comparison, only Lisbon Airport (LIS) is cheaper than Palma de Mallorca Airport.

AIRLINES Airport prices 10 airports comparison

Airport lounges for passengers of all classes starting from 8 euros

For a fee, passengers without a business class ticket can also gain access to the exclusive airport lounge and wait there comfortably until boarding. At Rome-Fiumicino Airport (FCO), lounge access is quite affordable at eight euros, especially if one has to wait several hours for a connecting flight.

On average, access to airport lounges is significantly more expensive in Europe, averaging around 36 euros. The most expensive one-time lounge access is at London's major Heathrow Airport. The Plaza Premium Lounge door opens for everyone for 63 euros. Travelers receive a selection of food and non-alcoholic beverages, fast Wi-Fi, comfortable seating, and access to shower and washrooms in return.

Staying overnight, especially in Brussels, Istanbul, and Frankfurt, is not very afforable

If your flight has a particularly early departure time or you have to wait an exceptionally long time for your connect flight, you might have to take a hotel room near the airport. Almost every airport, therefore, has corresponding airport hotels in close proximity. Of course, this service also comes at a price. The most expensive overnight stay is at Brussels Airport, where a short-term hotel room near the airport costs approximately 237 euros. Much cheaper options are available in the airport hotel industry at London Heathrow Airport, where a room can be had for around 57 euros per night.

The costs for a hotel room at German airport hotels range from 65 euros in Munich to 180 euros in Frankfurt. In Stuttgart, a room starts at 98 euros, while in Berlin, the overnight stay costs 111 euros. At Cologne/Bonn Airport, it's around 150 euros, and in Hamburg, it's 163 euros.

Methodology and Sources

The study selected 20 of the largest airports in Europe. For reasons of relevance to German consumers, the team preferred to focus on German airports and destinations frequented by many air travelers from Germany.

The considered cost items reflect their overall relevance to air travelers. All factors and expenses were carefully researched and verified for plausibility. All mentioned prices refer to the time of the study, which was conducted in February 2023.

All results are available online here.

This article is from the 2/2023 issue of the magazine "Life Abroad".

The magazine is published four times a year free of charge with many informative articles on foreign topics.

It is published by the BDAE, the expert for protection abroad.