Plan your airport parking

Planning your airport parking comes with its set of challenges. The most perplexing of which is calculating how long you need to park. If you overstay, you’re bound to rack up additional parking charges. Conversely, reserving parking for longer than necessary can be a waste of money.

So, how do you find that sweet spot between ensuring you have enough time to catch your flight comfortably and not paying for more parking time than you actually need?

In this blog, we'll walk through how to determine your optimal airport parking duration, from the factors to consider to your parking options. We’ll also cover Melbourne Airport’s Overstay Guarantee and how it provides peace of mind in case your travel plans go awry.

Whether you're going for a short vacation or planning an extended trip, this guide will help ensure your parking experience is as seamless as your flight.

Melbourne Airport Parking Options

Knowing your parking options is crucial when calculating your parking period. Your choice not only affects the parking cost but also determines your overall travel experience. That said, here are your parking options at Melbourne Airport:

  • Value Parking: Ideal for budget-conscious travellers, offering competitive rates for both short and long-term stays. It's a bit further from the terminals but is serviced by a free shuttle bus. Rate starts at $12 per day.
  • Terminal Parking: Conveniently located near the terminals, perfect for short trips or picking up and dropping off passengers. Daily parking rates start at $49.
  • Valet Parking: For those looking for a bit more luxury, valet parking offers a hassle-free experience. Drive up, hand over your keys, and head straight to check-in. Rates are higher, starting at $79 per day.
  • Premium Parking: Offers the closest self-parking spots to the terminals, ideal for travellers who prioritize convenience and time-saving. Premium rates start at $79 daily.
  • Business Parking: Directly opposite Terminal 1, it’s ideal for business travellers flying with Qantas. Daily rate starts at $79.
  • Qantas Valet Parking: Located within the Qantas Domestic Terminal, it offers the ultimate convenience. You can even earn Qantas frequent flyer points just by parking. Expect to pay at least $88 per day.

Melbourne Airport’s Overstay Guarantee

Melbourne Airport understands that travel plans can change unexpectedly. That's where our Overstay Guarantee saves the day.

When you book online, you will have the option to add on our Overstay Guarantee, subject to a minimal upfront fee. Under this, you can claim a refund on your overstay charges if your travel plans change due to unforeseen situations. This means that if your flight back to Melbourne is delayed or cancelled, you won’t be hit with unexpected parking fees.

What it Covers

Our Overstay Guarantee applies only to online bookings made through Melbourne Airport's online booking system. It covers specific unforeseen events, such as:

  • Government-mandated border closures.
  • Airline cancellations without a suitable replacement flight.
  • Physical illness preventing travel.

For further information, please refer to our Overstay Guarantee terms and conditions. Note that this only applies to online bookings, and the parking terms that apply to our online booking system continue to apply.

Claiming Your Refund

Claiming a refund under the Overstay Guarantee is pretty straightforward. To start your refund application, simply visit the Melbourne Airport website and head to the refunds page. You'll need to provide your contact details, vehicle registration, online booking reference, and evidence of your delayed or cancelled flight. This might include emails or notifications from your airline.

If you’re not sure about your eligibility for a refund, just reach out to us, and our friendly customer service team will get back to you.

What to Consider When Planning Your Airport Parking

Airport parking duration can be influenced by a variety of factors. So, when calculating how long you need to park, you also need to consider these factors:

1. Check-in Time

Factor in the airline's recommended check-in time. Airlines have strict cut-offs, and you don't want to miss your flight because you are stuck in the car park. For international flights, this could be up to 3 hours before departure. Domestic flights usually require at least an hour. Your check-in time is usually detailed in your booking confirmation email.

2. Security Clearance Time

Whether you’re leaving Victoria or returning home, going through airport security can be unpredictable. Allow extra time for this step, especially during peak travel periods or if you're travelling with items that need detailed inspection.

3. Airport Size

Covering almost 3,000 hectares, Melbourne Airport is one of the largest airports in Australia in terms of land area. It’s also one of the busiest. So, expect to do a significant amount of walking before you can reach the check-in counters (or the exit gates if you’re arriving home).

However, if you park onsite, the walking time will be considerably shorter. Our premium and valet car parks are also just a stone’s throw away from the terminals making it easier to access your flight without the hassle of long walks or waiting for shuttles.

If you’re parking at Melbourne Airport’s Value Car Park, remember to account for the shuttle ride. Our shuttle bus services run every 15 minutes, but it’s still a good idea to allow extra time.

4. Domestic vs. International Travel

International flights tend to take longer than domestic ones, and not just in terms of flight duration. We’re talking about going through immigration, then the intense security screenings. If you're travelling with items that might need closer inspection, such as electronics or liquids, prepare for a bit more time at security.

5. Peak vs. Off-peak hours

Travelling during peak times? Expect more traffic and longer queues. Parking during off-peak hours might offer a smoother experience.

While specific hours can vary, off-peak times are generally early morning or late evening. Early morning, before the rush of morning flights, and late evening, after the day's peak travel has subsided, tend to be less crowded.

6. Flight Delays

Flight delays are a normal part of air travel, but they can mess up your travel plans and affect when you need to pick up your car. If you’re returning to Melbourne, a delayed flight means you’ll need additional parking time. This could typically lead to additional fees, but not when you opt for our Overstay Guarantee. No matter how long your flight is delayed, our Overstay Guarantee ensures that additional parking fees will be the least of your worries.

7. Unforeseen Events

Even the best-laid travel plans can go awry. From last-minute flight cancellations to unexpected weather disturbances, all these can affect your arrival time and throw your parking plans in disarray.

To help you manage these uncertainties, Melbourne Airport's online booking system allows for amendments to your parking booking. Just head to the Manage My Booking section to amend your booking. Note that you can only make changes to your booking up to two hours prior to your booked arrival time.

Or, if you want complete peace of mind, just opt for our Overstay Guarantee. You don’t need to worry about making amends to your parking booking. Just claim your refund on overstay charges when you arrive and go enjoy your post-vacation bliss.

8. Parking Rates

Melbourne Airport car park rates vary by parking option and booking period. Booking your parking online often provides better rates than Melbourne Airport’s drive-up rates. The best thing about Melbourne Airport’s online booking system is it lets you compare how much you need to pay depending on the length of your stay. This allows you to plan your parking budget to align with your parking plans.

How Much Buffer Time Do You Need for Airport Parking?

Now that you know some of the factors that can affect your airport parking duration, you’re probably starting to appreciate the importance of adding some buffer time to your booking. Extra time means you're less likely to rush through airport processes like check-in and security. Plus, it lets you accommodate any last-minute flight schedule changes that can affect your arrival.

But how much buffer time do you need to add to your parking booking? In general, we recommend adding at least two hours to account for:

  • pre-flight inspections (this includes check-in, security clearance, and any unexpected delays)
  • parking and shuttle services
  • Walking to the terminal
  • potential holdups on your return flight, such as delays in flight arrival, baggage claim, customs, etc.

Calculating Your Total Airport Parking Time

Ensuring you have enough time for airport parking involves more than just matching it to your flight schedule. You need to factor in any potential traffic delays and the time needed for shuttle services if you're parking further from the terminals.

Remember to always allow at least a two-hour grace period for unexpected hold-ups at check-in and security. Also, if you want to have an extra layer of security against unexpected events, opt for Melbourne Airport's Overstay Guarantee.

Ready to make your parking experience hassle-free? Visit Melbourne Airport's website now to book your parking and learn more about how the Overstay Guarantee can make your travel even smoother.