Sydney Airport parking is expensive, especially when you consider you could get a return ticket from Town Hall to the Domestic Terminal for $31.80, or find cheaper parking somewhere near the airport.
But sometimes there's no other option. What some people mightn't realise is that there are different rates depending on whether you have pre-booked.
So how does it work? There appear to be three payment rates on the Sydney Airport site.
Sydney Airport - International Terminal
Special Offers: These are the cheapest rates we could find for parking at Sydney Airport. You see them listed on the Sydney Airport Web site - click here to see them. We also wrote them about them in an article last week - click here for that article.
There are separate special offers for the International Terminal car park and the car park for domestic flights. At the time of writing this, there is a 73%-off promo for the international car park. As we mentioned, you need to book in advance.
Self-Park "Long Stay Pre-Book Online Rates": For longer parks you'll be worse-off paying this way instead of taking advantage of a special offer - especially if you're parking up to a month. You'll save a lot of money by using a special offer instead.
But paying this way can be the best option when you want parking at the International Terminal for four days or less. That will cost you $128 for four days.
The closest special offer to this at the time of writing was the "Jetsetter" offer, for $154 for 7 days. In fact, at the time of writing there were only three "special offers" for the International Terminal: for periods of a month, a week, or three hours.
Here are all the Long Stay Pre-Book Online Rates parking rates on the Sydney Airport web site for the International Terminal at the time of writing:
The "drive-up" rate: This is when you haven’t pre-booked. If you're parking for anywhere up to a day (calendar day, mind you) then it's the same as if you'd pre-booked - $56.
For longer than a calendar day though, these rates are the most expensive we could see on the site:
Sydney Airport - Domestic Terminal
Special Offers: Again, these are the cheapest rates we could find on the Sydney Airport web site. For example, pay $35 for 1 day, instead of the drive-up rate of $56.
Click here for the Domestic Terminal special offiers.
Blu Emu: This is for people parking for domestic flights, but this car park is not at the Terminal. You take a free shuttle bus to and from the Terminal.
Blu Emu parking is cheaper if you want to park for one day ($26) or longer.
You choose between no shade or shaded ($5 more per day).
Note: you can't pay cash when driving out the exit gate - it's credit card only. Cash is allowed at a pay station in a lounge "next to the exit gates".
Self-park at terminal: Interestingly there doesn't appear to be a cheap rate for pre-booking at the Domestic Terminal (other than the various special offers, including a 5%-off deal if you pre-book 7 days in advance). Otherwise all we could find is one list of drive-up rates.
Keep in mind, if you only want to park for 1-2 hours, there's a Special Offer that will save you $5.
So what if you want to park for a couple of hours to drop off family for a domestic flight?
If you're staying no longer than 1-2 hours, the cheapest way we could find is to use the "No rush" "Save $5 on 1-2 hours" special offer - that will end up costing you $19.
If you need longer than a couple of hours, but no more than a day - then the cheapest way to do it is park at Blu Emu - that will cost you $26 for a calendar day.