How to park at the airport for free.
By The Editors

Yes, you can have free parking at the airport, too. But buyer beware: As you'll learn from my story, sometimes you pay a high price for something that looks like it's free.

How to park at the airport for free.


The story's as old as time: Boy meets girl. Boy parks car, flies to visit girl.

But then when boy wants to go home again, he meets a huge parking charge.

I once had a girlfriend in New York, and I lived in San Francisco:

Besides the distance between us, there were a lot of other problems with the relationship:

I’m not proud of this, but I probably should have known it was time to end things when I started wondering if visiting her was worth the price of parking my car at the airport:

I hate paying for parking. Especially at the airport.

That’s when I, unfortunately, figured out how to park my car at the airport for free.

I say unfortunately because that damn free parking kept me going back and forth on a plane — and in a bad relationship — a lot longer than I should have been.

Actually, it gets even worse than that, because I once parked my car at the airport for six months for free while I went to New York City to foolishly try to salvage this bad relationship, and like a dumbass I almost ended up trapping myself in what would have been a horrible marriage.

I finally figured out how to park my car at the airport for free.

So now, even though you now know that you shouldn’t ever take my advice on relationships, I hope you will at least take my advice on how to get free airport parking.

Here’s how my free parking deal works, whether you’re leaving town for just a few days or for months and months:

1. Book your flight.

2. Once you know your departure airport, Google the name of your airport + “Park Stay Fly.”

3. What you will get from Google for many airports is a list of nearby hotels that will let you arrive the evening before your departure, spend the night, park for free until you return, and take their free shuttle to the airport to catch your flight out of town.

4. That’s a great way to get affordable parking, but here’s the probably unethical trick that gets you free parking:

  • When you call the hotel to arrange your “Park N Fly” stay, tell them you’re catching a mid-day flight but coming in late when you return, so you want to book your overnight stay for the end of your trip instead of the beginning of your trip.
  • Book your overnight stay for a few days AFTER your actual return date.
  • On your day of departure, drop off your car at the hotel and check in with the front desk, confirm your overnight stay, take their shuttle to the airport, enjoy your flight.
  • When you fly back home, take the hotel’s shuttle back, get in your car, drive away.
  • Once you leave the hotel parking lot in your car, pull over and call the hotel before you forget; then cancel your stay that’s booked for a few days later.

6. For longer stays, like my six-month trip that almost took me into both hell and marriage, simply book your return stay a few weeks out. Then call every few weeks and ask them to extend the date of your return. The good news: I got myself out of the bad relationship without getting married, and my car was still there waiting for me six months later when I got back to the hotel.