We are often asked about establishments that charge our members for landing. We do try to discourage the practice. Not only does it seem unfair to charge for parking when cars in the car park are not subjected to the same practice but once you charge a fee you have unwittingly contracted to provide a service. In our experience there does not appear to be fire cover, marshals or even an ‘H’ - just a patch of grass.
Reasons given by the hotels themselves vary:
You must pay for the inconvenience to the other guests - it is our personal experience that in the vast majority of cases the landing of a helicopter is a rarity and quite exciting. Disappointment then sets in when out of the machine comes not Zac Efron or Tom Cruise but a middle-aged property developer.
We do not want to encourage helicopters to land - the answer to this is just say no.
We are worried about our liability - liability is only increased by charging a fee and all us helicopter people have got insurance already.
Why not you’ve got a helicopter - hmm.
We need documentary evidence of £10mn indemnity - we were unable to get any sensible expanation for this and it feels out of proportion, especially where the landing area is several hundred feet from any building.
We need 3 weeks notice - we jest you not. This is an absurd but nonetheless real request, but we have many that require 48 hours and yet don’t have animals.
So far Helipaddy has nearly 1000 moderated off-airfield landing sites in the UK (another 2000 are in Europe and the States) and over 100 UK sites in the pipeline awaiting final moderation. Yes we do contact them all. Of those 9% are charging fees but the fees vary hugely. It is rumoured that someone was asked for £1400 to land near Tring but the worst known offenders are those that charge even if you’re staying the night:
- Five Lakes Hotel Colchester £300.00
- Hellidon Lakes £100
- Crowne Plaza Heathrow £500, only twin helicopters. But you do get the use of a room!
- Pennine Manor £50 to land and another £50 to take off
- Celtic Manor £500
- Stoke Park £200 for lunch, but free if you stay the night and several days notice of intensions to land.
- Great Fosters £50 land £50 take off
- Combe Grove Manor £100 just to drop off and no helipad. However does have an FA approved training ground.
- Hickstead All England Showjumping £60 to land in a sloping field miles away from the show site, exclusive of VAT for a very minor event.
- Portmeirion £250 if not staying and last time we were there the landing was on the beach.
Are you the owner of any of these sites? We tried contacting all of the mentioned sites but some didn’t respond.
Have we got our facts wrong? Click on any of the site links to comment or edit the details.
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There are areas of the country where the tendency to charge fees seems more ingrained.
The Isle of Wight, Berkshire and Cheshire. Which might be a reflection of either the number of helicopters flying or the number of commercial operators for whom adding a few hundred to the price charged to the man in the back isn’t going to make much difference.
The EU country that charges most egregiously is Italy and the most relaxed is France.
There are also a few establishments for whom we feel its okay. We are happy to pay charitable donations as in The Plough in Bedford, The Point Polzeath £20.00 and you get access to the gym or the West London Shooting School where you are on a tube line, useful!
We did lots of research for this article! We received this from one disgruntled pilot:
“I usually ask them how much they charge to park in their car park . Invariably they say it’s free and I then tell them I’ll land in the car park. I simply won’t go to anywhere that charges to land if I’m spending money there and, if I’m not, £25 is about my limit. Purely and simply on principle!”
New ones reported since writing the article are (unverified):
- Peckforton Castle, £200 charge, even though a client was holding a £20k+ wedding there.
- Rannoch Moor Hotel, wanted £1750 (that’s not a typo..) for 3 weeks overnight parking even though the pilots were paying a further £3200 in pilot’s accommodation charges.
- Washbourne Court Hotel, £100 whether you’re just stopping for lunch, staying overnight or anything else.
- Rowton Hall £275.00 drop off and £200.00 per half a day’s parking