Winging it: Brits see 63 per cent increase in airport breakdowns

  • Brits have seen a 63 per cent increase in airport carpark breakdowns from 2021 to 2023
  • Over half (51 per cent) of call outs over the last three years were a result of flat batteries
  • Breakdowns most frequently occurred at Heathrow, Stansted and Manchester Airports


As Brits prepare to fly away on half term breaks, new analysis1 has revealed a 63 per cent increase since 2021 in the number of Brits breaking down in airport carparks. Over 85 million Brits flew into and out of UK airports in February 20232, with thousands likely facing a rude awakening upon landing.

The data from Green Flag, one of the UK’s leading breakdown providers, highlights the need for drivers to take precautions ahead of their travels to avoid adding to those post-holiday blues.

According to the data, the most common reason for breakdowns in the last three years was battery failure, with 51 per cent of broken-down cars reported as this. 12 per cent of those broken-down required support with punctures or a wheel problem, whilst 5 per cent had issues with their brakes or clutch. A further 2 per cent admitted losing their keys, which can cost on average, £320 to replace3

Table 1: Top five airport breakdown locations in the last three years


Number of breakdowns

Heathrow Airport


Manchester Airport


Stansted Airport


Edinburgh Airport


East Midlands Airport


Katie Lomas, Managing Director of Green Flag, said: “While the lead up to the half term break can be stressful as we rush to finish work and school, it’s important to take a few steps to ensure your car is healthy and likely to be working upon your return. Checking lights are off, ensuring there are no sharp objects when parking and filling up your fuel, oil and water could help ensure you aren’t stranded with a car that won’t start on your return.”

Brits are already facing huge costs when choosing to park at airports with prices at Gatwick seeing a whopping increase of 268 per cent, from £93 in 2022 to £343 in 20234. Edinburgh Airport saw a 207 per cent rise from £36.99 in 2022 to £113.66 in 2023. Heathrow prices increased by 136 per cent, from £119.56 to £283 and Stansted Airport rose by 94 per cent, from £73.32 to £142.88. So the importance of avoiding adding unnecessary costs is vital.

With thousands likely to experience a breakdown following their holiday’s, Green Flag has offered tips on how to mitigate this risk and to avoid unexpected costs:

Green Flag’s top tips to reduce an airport breakdown:

  1. Switch off: Ensure internal and external lights are off and devices that drain batteries such as dash cams and phone chargers are unplugged.  
  2. Look around: Check parking spots for sharp objects that could puncture your tyres over time such as broken glass.
  3. Fuel up: More fuel is used when you load your car with heavy bags, so make sure you fill up before you jet off. At the same time you can also top up your water and oil.
  4. Light up: Make sure no warning lights are lit up on your dashboard and address any issues before going away.
  5. Safe storage: You don’t need your keys on holiday so put them in a zip pocket of your cabin bag. If you’re travelling with someone else, tell them where you’ve stored them so you don’t forget.
  6. Find your car again: Take a picture of where you are parked (the floor / bay) in the airport car park, so you can find your car easily on your return.


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For further information please contact:

Alice Osborn

PR Manager

Email: [email protected]


Notes to editors:

1.      Green Flag airport breakdown data 2021 – 2023

2.      UK Civil Aviation Authority

3.      UK Auto Locksmith

4.      Creditfix


About Green Flag:

With over 50 years' experience, Green Flag provides customers with breakdown cover 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Customers have access to a network of breakdown operators across the UK and mainland Europe (Euro Plus cover required).  

Green Flag is underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.  

Green Flag and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.    

Customers can find out more about Green Flag products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 1557, connecting via the Green Flag Rescue Me Application, or visiting