Flying used to be fun and so did a trip to the airport. But, nowadays we are treated less as passengers, but as lucrative commodities there to be exploited.
Airports appear to be a law unto themselves. They are, in effect, their own little fiefdoms where the airport owners and management can fleece us until their hearts are content. And we are a captive audience, who they believe and probably know through statistics, data and empirical observational evidence, that will do as we are told and make buying decisions that just do not make sense.
My question is: why? Why is it that stuff in airports costs so much? Should an airport owner not be pleased that we have made a decision to travel with them? After all, there are two or three airports within a few hundred miles that we could use.
But, that is the salient point here. Many of us are captive to them. A bit like football fans at their favourite team stadium. Let’s face it a pie and Bovril should never really cost four quid. The ingredients alone must only be about 10p. As your local airport has you captive because you are either lazy or simply cannot be bothered travelling from say Edinburgh to Glasgow, then you are a slave to the machine.
When we go to an airport, we are essentially travellers. We have bought a ticket with an airline who will transport us from A to B. That airline then pays the airport a fee for say landing and the use of an airbridge or baggage handlers. But, this is all included in our ticket price along with taxes and duties. But, the airport owners don’t see us like that, I would suggest. In their eyes they have a big old money making machine that they want to optimise. In the world of business, they call this sweating the asset. Accordingly, airport operators do this with great aplomb.
If I look at my local airport, almost every time I go there, there is yet another food or drink outlet, yet another unit open selling services, clothing and products – at over-priced prices. I can get a whole load of twee tartan tat that peddles the Scottish romantic dream. I can get my suitcase wrapped in plastic to “protect” it. Protect it from what? It was made to be robust. What are they proposing to do with it? Throw it from a baggage truck to an aircraft hold is probably the inference. So let me get this one right. The airport is renting a unit to a retailer who will wrap my suitcase in the event that the airport baggage handlers damage it. You can reach your own conclusion here.
Then there are the plethora of eateries punting over priced coffee, sandwiches and “beige” items that are allegedly not very good for my health.
Surely, the best one of all is the chemist type outlet, never mind some guy trying to get twenty quid off me in the hope that my number will come up and I can win an Aston Martin. As you know, we cannot travel with liquids over 100ml in our hang luggage. Mind you, despite this being in place for years, I still see people having their fancy deodorants, etc confiscated. What planet have they been on? So, we “have” to buy 100ml stuff once we get airside for the trip and the return. And it costs a small fortune. A 100ml deodorant costs the same as a full-size one in the local supermarket. This can’t be right.
Airport operators are in business to make money. But, having been granted the appropriate licences to operate, should there not be some limit put on what they charge retailers for the space, who in turn charge us the premium that have had to pay? If we keep allowing ourselves to be fleeced, then like British/Scottish Gas, the prices will just go up and up.
The irony is, I can book a cheap low cost flight to Spain in the winter cheaper than I can buy two meals with drinks in a Scottish airport.
Have fun in the sun this summer, but be prepared to have your credit card ready when at the airport. At least they don’t charge us to pee… yet!
- Jim Duffy is co-founder of Moonshot Academy and author of Create Special