Travelers are Booking International Flights, Just to Shop Duty Free?


Imagine this. You book a flight to anywhere your heart desires and the moment you look forward to the most, is not boarding the plane, but roaming around the terminal? Can it be so? With the increase of luxury brands flocking to airport duty free terminals, the allure of saving some cash just so happens to tickle the fancy of many shoppers. Brands like Chanel and Dior are able to attract customers beyond traditional boutiques with the bonus of shopping tax free, VAT refunds (in some European countries) and sans import duties. What’s even more interesting is that now, rather than having to go anywhere, consumers are being offered free flights to nowhere to enjoy the perks of duty free shopping without ever leaving the country, let alone the airport! What do you think though? Would you book a no-go flight if it gave you access to your favourite luxe brands?…

The Business of Fashion reported earlier this month that companies like Lotte Duty Free were providing its VIP customers with free flights that briefly leave domestic airspace. These quick journeys, oftentimes less than half an hour, qualify passengers on board as international travellers- giving them access to duty free merchants typically reserved for overseas consumers.
Let’s apply this concept to luxury retailers.

Going by this information, someone looking to purchase a Chanel bag, for example, need not travel to Paris or Geneva and can instead do so at their own local airport terminal- reaping the benefits of duty free shopping at the same time. The catch, of course, is that to be offered such a proposition, one has to be a VIP duty free client already. BoF referred to a minimum benchmark figure of approximately $550 to have been spent since May 3rd at Hotel Shilla, the second largest duty free outlet in Korea.

A thought to be pondered too is, to what extent do luxe brands make available their product offerings at terminal boutiques? One can assume that the pursuit of classics like an Hermes Birkin 25 or a Chanel medium/jumbo classic flap, probably won’t lead them to the airport, but what about other items? YouTubers like Maria Draganova have frequently detailed their luxury airport shopping experiences at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3. While browsing at shops like Fendi, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, luxe lovers will be pleased to know that classic staples from these brands like the Baguette, Marmont and Speedy bags are readily available. However, at Chanel, for example, one would be more likely to find seasonal variations of the classic flap in addition to products like the Gabrielle bag and SLGs.

As luxury consumers, does this offer sound too good to be true? Or, rather, a strategic opportunity to access coveted luxury goods at lower prices? Would you seek out airport shopping as a way to snag your designer favourites? Or would you rather go to your local boutique, and remove terminal duty free shopping out of the equation altogether?

Let us know your thoughts!…

Image Courtesy: Business Insider, Chase Amie, The Moodie Davitt Report