Getting to the airport on time… the UK’s most-congested cities

Heading to the airport any time soon? Make sure you leave extra time as new research reveals jams have significantly worsened around most cities with major airports. We’ve the details you need right here.

Don’t miss that flight

Find out which airport cities have the worst rush-hour traffic

Find out which airport cities have the worst rush-hour traffic

The fifth annual Traffic Index from TomTom shows average journeys in 2014 took 29% longer than they would in free-flowing traffic – up from a 27% delay in 2013.

It also revealed snarl-ups in 14 out of Britain’s 17 largest cities – affecting airports that serve them – have got worse over the past year. One airport that should be easier to get to though, is Bristol; a city bucking the trend for jammed streets where congestion has lessened for the second year running.

When to fly: Booking your flight? TomTom data – extracted from 12million actions across the globe – has revealed evening rush-hour to be the busiest time of day. Reserving your seat on a mid-afternoon flight will help ensure you have the best chance of making it to the check-in desk on time.

Where to leave most time: Flying from Belfast International Airport? Make sure you head out the door a lot earlier than planned; the city has been awarded the dubious accolade as the UK’s most congested. Driving around this metropolis as you head to the airport could mean journey times 82% longer in both the morning and evening rush-hour.

Second is London with journey times 67% longer in the evening peak. The Scottish capital Edinburgh is the third most congested city, with travel taking 36% longer on average and 71% longer in the evening rush hour.

There’s no good news for those flying from Manchester, either, the north west city jumps a place to fifth with congestion increasing from 26% to 32%.

UK’s Top 10 most-congested airport cities…

Heading to the airport, here are the city locations to avoid as the clock strikes rush-hour.

UK's top 10 most-congested airport cities

UK’s top 10 most-congested airport cities

Beat the jams

Slash journey times and skip traffic with meet and greet parking

Slash journey times and skip traffic with meet and greet parking

Here are our tips for dodging the jams…

Meet and greet parking: If you’re flight times mean travelling during rush-hour, meet and greet parking can slash around 45 minutes from your journey time. Simply drive straight to the airport terminal where you’ll be met by a chauffeur who’ll park your car for you – as you make straight for the gate.
Get a quote for meet and greet parking here

Hotel and parking package: Beat the rush-hour traffic altogether by booking a pre-flight stop-over at a hotel just minutes from the airport terminal. You can choose room-only, but also a park and stay option where you leave your car at the hotel – shaving even more time from your journey to the check-in desk. Adding a room to your parking often adds just a few pound to your parking, but could save hours of slogging it through the detritus of rush-hour traffic around your chosen airport.
Get a quote for airport hotels and parking here

Top 10 most-congested cities in Europe…

Moscow - the best city in Europe for jam fans

Moscow – the best city in Europe for jam fans: image credit

If you’re planning to hire a car for your hols, then read on to find out where the most-congested cities in Europe are. The top international traffic hotspot in Europe is Moscow! It’s now Europe’s most congested city with congestion at 50%, rising to a whopping 109% in the evening peak.

European cities with the most-congested streets

European cities with the most-congested streets

Hire car hidden costs

If you are planning to hire a car for your hols, here’s our guide to spotting  hidden charges and how to beat them.


These are all legitimate costs that hire companies charge for add-ons, but a little planning will help slash your bill.

Check out the infographic, above, detailing a few of the potential costs you may incur when hiring a car then scroll down to find our tips for beating these hidden extras.

Beating the hidden costs

You’ve seen how much you could be paying in addition to your basic headline figure, but don’t despair – here are our tips to beat the hidden costs.

Book early

What: Hiring a car might not be the most glamorous part of booking your hols, but once you’ve secured your accommodation and flights, organising a car should be your top priority. Booking early could save £100s.
Hire car hidden cost: £140.00-£700.00 depending on location and time of year.
Beat the hidden cost: Figures from TravelSupermarket reveal leaving your booking until you get to the destination airport could cost as much as £100 a day more than if you’d reserved your car a couple of months in advance. A compact family car hired now for a week-long trip to Portugal during August will cost £37.00 per day, while booking at the time of the trip will result in a daily tariff of around £138.00. Other countries are less expensive, but expect to pay at least double the early-booking rate. Save cash by getting a quote for your hire car right now from

Excess insurance

What: Arriving at the desk to collect your hire car could rapidly become a traumatic experience as the commission-led representative assaults you with a machine gun-like volley of insurance-related acronyms. The common theme will be that anything from a scratched bumper to a chipped windscreen could cost you several thousand euros/dollars unless you buy the particular add-on insurance that he/she if offering. At this point, many tired travellers with understandably succumb to panic and agree to purchase. These ‘policies’ will typically cost around £25.00-£30.00 per day.
Hire car hidden cost: £175.00 (approx)
Beat the hidden cost: There’s nothing wrong with wanting peace of mind – so get it on your terms. Buying a standalone excess policy before you fly is likely to cost around £2.99 per day, according to – while annual cover can be purchased for less than £40.00. Get a standalone excess insurance quote here

Have cash on your card

What: Have space on your credit card: If you’ve saved cash by purchasing a standalone excess insurance policy, the car hire company will usually want to ring-fence or charge a refundable deposit on a credit car – to cover any excess charges that you can claim back later from your insurer. The amount is usually somewhere between £300.00 and £500.00. Charging or ring-fencing the cash on your card is normal, but if you’ve maxed-out your credit card, the ‘deposit’ will be declined and you’ll be forced to lose your car or take the operator’s own expensive policy.
Hire car hidden cost: £200.00+ including the standalone policy you’ve already bought.
Beat the hidden cost: Contact the hire firm in advance – by email, so you have it in writing – to find out how much they’ll need to ring-fence and make sure you have the funds available on your card’s balance.

Child seat hire

What: Hiring child seats will cost you from £5.00/day. Bad enough for just one child, but if you’ve a brood of them populating the back seat, you could be looking at more than £100.00 on seats alone.
Hire car hidden cost: £35.00 per child per week
Beat the hidden cost: First option to slash the cash is take your own seat with you. Many airlines will let you take it for free – or for a small charge. For example:
British Airways will let you check in a stroller and one child seat for free
easyJet offers a free service allowing you to check in a child seat or booster seat for each infant under two years old, along with one of either a booster seat, buggy, pushchair or cot. You can also use the child seat on the plane, providing it fits in the 42cm space between the arm rests on the aircraft seats – go to to double-check this ‘armrest’ measurement for the plane you’ll be on. Get full info on easyJet’s child seat policy here.
RyanAir’s website says two pieces of infant equipment are carried free of charge (per infant/child). This equates to a pushchair plus one of the following: car seat, booster seat or travel cot. Read RyanAir’s latest policy on child seats here.
You could also consider buying a BoostApak. It’s a clever booster seat that folds into a handy backpack. It’s suitable for most kids aged from 4-12. It costs £44.95, but will make a clever investment the kids will love to carry. Buy the BoostApak here.

Sat-nav hire

What: You might be an expert traversing the back streets from Accrington to Clitheroe, but navigating your way through the Pyrenees might require a little GPS-powered assistance. Borrowing one of these from your hire car firm is likely to be a costly decision, with charges up to £14.00 per day.
Hire car hidden cost: £50.00+ per week.
Beat the hidden cost: Upgrading your current device with foreign maps could cost you as much as £50, but if you have a GPS-enable smartphone, you can use apps such as NavFree which turns your phone into a free sat-nav device for around 50 countries. Don’t worry about huge data charges , either, the service uses pre-loaded maps and that work offline. A great way to cut the cost of hiring a car.


What: Some hire car companies have targeted fuel as a prime way to boost their income. It won’t appear on the headline cost either, so make sure you’re fully aware of how much you’ll be charged before you book. A particularly expensive option is to charge you for a full tank in advance, but not give any refund on unused fuel. Many people won’t use all the fuel, plus operators will charge big premiums compared with the cost of petrol and diesel from local filling stations.
Hire car hidden cost: £50 per week.
Beat the hidden cost: This ‘full to empty’ policy is particularly prevalent in Spain, but look out for it in all destinations. Only hire cars from firms that operate a ‘return as found’ fuel policy – allowing you to benefit from cheaper foreign fuel prices. Get your quote now from

Pay with a credit card

What: When you pick up your holiday hire car, it’s likely the firm will charge a deposit. Always pay this using a credit card. Never hand over a debit card – this will give the hire firm freedom to dip into your bank account at will and extract whatever they want.
Hire car hidden cost: £?? Difficult to put a figure on this, but it could run into hundreds if you have a dispute with the hire car firm over damage.
Beat the hidden extras: Using a credit card acts as an extra buffer between you and the hire firm – allowing any contested charges to be frozen while you dispute them – debit cards offer no such protection. The Consumer Credit ACT 1974 also makes the credit card supplier jointly liable in disputes. Additionally, insist the firm charges you in the local currency, because many hire car companies will convert to sterling using rates that are heavily biased in their favour.

Check and check again

What: Holiday hire cars have a tough life and operators are keen to extract as much revenue from of them as possible. As such, you might find that vehicles are scruffy, scratched and even have mechanical problems.
Hire car hidden cost: £300+ if your deposit is lost over spurious damage claims that weren’t your fault.
Beat the hidden cost: Make sure you spend a good 10 minutes looking over the car for damage and checking it for mechanical problems before you drive away. Insist the agent marks all scratches, scuffs and dents on the ‘diagram’ before you sign for the car. It’s a good idea to photograph the car too – using your smartphone to do this should insure that ‘exif’ data is recorded (this invisibly embeds a digital footprint to the photo, including date and location it was taken) which could be invaluable in the event of a damage dispute (use Google to find an exif reader). Also, you must check the spare wheel to ensure it’s not damaged, or punctured – otherwise you could end up paying for another driver’s carelessness.

Don’t hire a car

What: Many people hire a car and then only use it for travel to and from the airport and hotel. If you’re staying in a lively costal resort, it’s likely that you’ll have a beach, restaurant and shops within a few minutes of where you’re staying.
Hire car hidden cost: £100.00+ (after accounting for alternative travel)
Beat the hidden extras: Use Google Map’s Streetview feature to take a virtual tour of amenities near your accommodation. You might just realise you’ve got all you need on your doorstep, or if you do want to take a trip, check out local buses etc. Beat the cost of hiring a car by getting an instant airport transfer quote from


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