Airport shops – a Poll


I sometimes think that airport shops are simply there to prey on the captive audience which is standing around, bored, waiting for a plane. I always laugh when they ask me to show my boarding card – even if I tell them I’m not leaving the EU and therefore have to pay the VAT, not that it makes any difference most of the time if you are leaving the EU – it’s like you’re getting privileged treatment to be able to pay a few dozen percent more than you’d pay on the highstreet.

It works a bit like hotels. The posher they are, the more they rip you off with overpriced minibars, extra for internet, and nonsense like that. The same Cialdini-ism seems to be used in reverse by these airport shops, in that they think that if they treat you like rubbish and overcharge you, then you’ll feel like you are in a privileged setting and that it behoves you to shell out for things you probably didn’t even want or need in the first place.

Some places are worse than others, but the airports that will actually give you some kind of bargain seem to be in the minority, an increasing small minority.

One time in Prague airport I wanted to buy a deodorant as it was a hot day and I didn’t normally carry a toilet bag as I had a flat in Prague with that job. I was asked by the sullen saleswoman if Warsaw was my final destination. I quipped that I hoped not, as I hoped to go to heaven one day. At this her eyes clouded over, she just took the purchase out of the bag, placed it on a little shelf in her booth and refused to serve me.

Evidently I had offended against the culture of the Czech Republic. I knew they were the most atheistic country in the world, I just didn’t realise they were so religious about it.

What’s your experience with airport shops? Do you tend to use them or not?

About David J. James

53 year old accountant who loves languages, literature, history, religion, politics, internet, vlogging and blogging and lively written discussion. Conservative Christian, married to an angel, we have three kids, and live in Warsaw, Poland. I can help you with company set-up, bookkeeping, payroll, tax, audit and due diligence all over Poland and the region.

Posted on 10/02/2014, in Accounting, Business & Finance, Autobiographical, Blog only and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Mike Ellwood

    You were kind of prescient here David, in view of the later rumpus. In case you missed it, it turned out that the airport shops weren’t even passing on the VAT to the government, but pocketing it. Always thought they were a bit of a swiz, and now it turns out they really were a swiz.

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  2. Wow, can’t believe she wouldn’t serve you after stating a Christian fact… Too funny!

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  3. They usually don’t sell anything I’m particularly interested in, and just because I don’t have to pay tax doesn’t mean the things there are cheaper anyway. I hardly ever use them.

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