Duty Free Shopping At The Airport Does Not Make Sense To Me.

I have just been thinking a lot lately about the whole airport experiences and things I have seen while traveling within the past 5-6 years. In recent years air travel and security screenings at the airports has been enforced a lot more since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and I am all for it and I think the more security we have, the better it will be for all travelers including myself and those are great measures to ensure our well-being. They implemented the No Liquids in Carry on bag and all that stuff. I am glad security is tightened a lot more and the customs have been more aware of these things.

However, there is something that does not seem to make sense to me. I was traveling to Cayo, Coco, Cuba 2 years ago and I had an unopened bottle of Water from me where I bought it straight from the Grocery store, and after having our tickets and baggage checked in, we went toward the metal screening and security area before entering the gates to wait for our plane. This Customs person came and discarded the water I was going to drink until we boarded the flight. So I told them Customs, it is just water, I am going to drink it before I get on the plane while I wait, she said that we cannot allow liquids beyond the gates and we need to dump it out. So without further question, I followed the rules and I proceeded. As I went through the Metal screening process everything was great. Right across from the metal screening, there is these shops and duty free. So I began to ponder about why they discarded my unopened bottled water when they have all these liquids, drinks, perfume bottles, make up, personal hygiene products, coffee, and even sharp objects like nail clippers, tweezers, so on and so forth being sold.

Now, I got so angry at this point but decided not to cause a scene at the airport, so I had to purchase another unopened bottled water which cost me a lot more. It was like $3.50 for a bottle water when I bought mine from the grocery store for a $1.25. So the point is, that they don’t allow liquids being brought in, but they go and sell it at duty free, which does not make any sense to me. I came with a conclusion that they make you spend money at duty free and airport shops before boarding your plane so that the airport and the shops make more money off of you. Thats what I am thinking. I feel that its also a business. I don’t know but that’s just my take on it. I could be wrong, but everyone has different perspectives on things.

Thanks for reading!


40 thoughts on “Duty Free Shopping At The Airport Does Not Make Sense To Me.

  1. I think it is because they know what is in those bottles/what thee liquids beyond the gate are, they don’t know you only have water. The sharp things really don’t make sense though! And the airport should put a cap on the selling prices, I guess they charge a lot of rent though.

  2. Hi there
    I’ve been travelling a lot so maybe my experience can help a bit. Wtare bottle used to get screened for drugs dissolved in it. In Japan for example they use to screen our bottle with a special scan to look for drugs in it. I guess they just tightened the thing and decided no fluid after 9/11. About sharp objects, each airport I have been in doesn’t sell it at all. Once you left your tweezers or small scissors you can’t buy another one unless you reached destination…

  3. I guess on the one hand, they know for sure that the water they sell at the shops really IS water and not something else. But! i see your view and yeah i’d be pretty upset too if i was in your position 😀

  4. Its a big racket I tell u .. its just dollars and cents … absolutely horrible … its better if they picked your pocket at the gate rather than give that lame excuse … water is water …geez. They can simplify all this but y bother if they makin a profit….

  5. Actually I disagree with you — I don’t think it ads one bit to our safety. Not taking off the shoes, not taking the water, not any of it. It is all show.

  6. It’s totally ridiculous. I also don’t understand why, after flying from London to New York, they make you pick up your bags and put them through the X-ray machine again, because of course, the bags have bombs on them! If that were the case, how come I did not blow up in the middle of the Atlantic? Does that mean the ones who pick up the bags at JFK put bombs in the bags after we got out of the plane?
    Now really…
    FAA = intelligence unbound…

  7. Its about making money as much as it is having security. Certainly duty free products likely go through several security check points and the distributors probably go through extensive back ground screening before they are contracted through the airline or airport, I hope? On the other hand it is convient for them because once you get to that gate you can’t bring it in and if you’ll be waiting a while like they suggest you get there early, your likely to buy over priced products. Same marketing strategy that grocery stores pull then they put items on the end caps middle of isles and at the checkout line. Tough to resist the temptation, its what they are banking on. I sympathize with you.

  8. It is all about money like many have stated, but those items have been screened and taken care of before being put out on the shelf for sale. It’s not as if we can’t use those items for harm like you stated, but at least they’re “checked” and “security clearance” items? Haha. It is ridiculous how much they charge for such a nominal basic product.

  9. I work in an airport, and I can understand your frustration. While it’s probably partially some sort of safety measure, it very well may be money-driven as well. Airport prices are through the roof; I have customers complain on a daily basis, because a glass of white wine is upwards of $14 where I work. I just shrug and say “it’s the airport”. They overcharge because they know you have no other option, I suppose!

  10. after traveling a lot, i’ve discovered that if you bring an empty water bottle (like a nalgene or something), starbucks will usually be happy to fill it up for you – especially if you buy coffee (which is a rip-off anywhere, not just the airport, so…). just a little tip to hopefully save you money in the future! 🙂

  11. They probably sold you the bottle they took from someone else the day before:-). When I flew back home on the 9/11 in 2001. One of my flights was with Air Lufthansa from Brisbane to Auckland. They had a glass full of disposable razors in the bathroom. I couldn’t believe it and still can’t. The exact day a year after the tragedy. Weird hey?

  12. The security once took my body butter in Changi Airport. I was just transit during my flight from Tokyo to Indonesia and my body butter has passed security in Narita and Taoyuan airport. So I think every airport has their own policy. And yaa… many airport has free mineral water inside the boarding room.

  13. Hi, Talin. I think the gist of that rule is that someone, somewhere, is going to know how to make a bottle look unopened. And that bottle could contain one of any number of terrible, dangerous liquids. This is just another part of ensuring our protection. I know the airports rip us off in prices for things like water, but for me, I guess I’d rather pay the extra couple of dollars than worry if some idiot terrorist has a bottle full of sulphuric acid, or something like it.

  14. I think what the people in Custums did wrong was that they had not given you enough explanation before they did something with your bottle. I understand you got hurt at your heart. I wish your wonderful friends and best christmas will soon cure your heart.

  15. I think judith has a point. A bottle could be made to look unopened. It might even be possible to prepare a bottle by the same process used in bottling (after all, any bottle was empty once and then was filled and sealed) containing explosive. Selling sharp objects in duty free is a different matter and a real concern; and are the glass bottles there all incapable of being shattered to make sharp objects? The 9/11 hijackers just used everyday objects, not guns and knives, and the destructive power was the power of the aircraft full of fuel.

    Lack of clear information, though, is bad.

  16. Due to security and post 9/11, the security procedures are more strict. They make you buy drinks within the gate terminals so that they get rid of any threat. Also knowing, that people don’t have anything dangerous beyond the customs.

  17. You’re so spot on! I have been complaining about this for a long time, not just the water, but other stuff like make up, tweezers and nail files. I could easily use a pen as a weapon and stab someone in the eye if I had a mind to (which I don’t), but they don’t confiscate pens or pencils, and even give children colouring crayons on the plane. What are they playing at? I agree: it’s all a money-making scheme and very little to do with passenger safety.

  18. My most recent “Silly” airport moment was that my husband and I were returning from Jamaica. He had a conch shell that he had purchased which obviously had sharp points. As we were walking down the terminal to board our flight they did a “random” carry on check of his bag and found the shell-which we were not going to check because we didn’t want it to break. The finding of the shell caused the airport worker some confusion. It was legal, it was ours, it had points, it was in our carry on. The agreed upon solution? My husband would wrap the shell in an extra pair of UNDERWEAR that he had in his carryon so as not to harm anyone with the shells points. HAH. As if someone intending to use the shell as a weapon would leave it wrapped up in their bag. All we could do was laugh and board our flight.

  19. I’ve been known to go back out the check-in area to drink my water to keep the bottle. Is that insane? Maybe not. You can refill it on the inside but that wasn’t the real reason. I really wanted the “VOSS” bottle. (vosswater.com)

  20. I started a job recently where I travel every week – in between TSA stories of actually getting through with opened water bottles, getting my bag checked because of homemade pumpkin bread, TSA opening my bag to find 7 boxes of beignet mix and having to swab it down before letting me on a plane… (the list goes on), the one story that I think of on this topic is the day that I carried a flower from an arrangement my boyfriend sent me home with me from Louisiana to Philadelphia. I put it in a bottle of water to carry it to the airport, dumped the water out right before security, put my flower and empty bottle through security and filled the water bottle back up in the bathroom to continue the journey when I got back through security. This whole plan would have been better had I not managed to spill water inside my bag 2 hours before getting home, but hey, the flower survived.

  21. Surely, if you can afford to fly, you can afford to buy water. And how would you feel if the person sitting next to you with a bottle that’s been let through security, suddenly opened it and poured corrosive liquid into the plane’s electronic system so that it, and you, became the next 7/11 victims?

    I love security – it means someone is taking care of me.

  22. My husband is named John Smith. He served in the USAF for six years & has been employed by the FAA for almost 20. However, because of his “common” name, we (the whole fam including our daughter) get totally abused every time we fly. Part of the problem is TSA and airport standards are not universal. Each airport has its own quirks (and extremely cocky jackasses to enforce them).

    As for the liquids through customs, it’s a crock and a racket. Flying in from Moscow this week, many on our plane had duty free alcohol. Upon arrival and JFK, you have to recheck your bags after customs and almost no one realized (until it was confiscated) that they would have to open their checked luggage and store the booze there rather than carrying it on.

    I like feeling secure, but the yahoos at TSA don’t give me a warm and fuzzy like the Marines. And don’t get me started on customs/border patrol…..why exactly do we check passports and visas at airports yet have open road borders?? I’m a little confused. If I were a terrorist, I’d come via the interstate.

    OOPS. Just realized how much I wrote. Sorry for the rant 😉

  23. I remember having all of my make-up taken away from me because I didn’t check it. Also, my ex would always buy me duty free presents and I hated that. I was the after thought before he caught his plane.

    Not a fan of airports. Bah Humbug

    Enjoy your holiday.


  24. I feel your pain. On a recent business trip i purchased a snow globe from a store IN the airport, but before the security check point (stupid subplot, but for years i’ve bought a snow globe for the kids from every place my business has taken me).

    Anywho, at the security check point they made me “surrender” the item – and while i can’t prove it – i could’ve sworn i saw them take it right back to the gift shop i had bought it at for the next sucker…

  25. The reason they do that is so that they can control what type of water it is and what is in the water. So say that you bought a bottle of water in the market for a dollar. And you didnt know it but there was a chemical in it that ignited when the plane took off. The security people are stopping that by having the knolage of what the water contains that they sell. These tests cost a lot of money so the water costs a lot at the little booths.

  26. The stuiptest experience I’ve ever had at airport security was leaving Las Vegas. I had stopped at the Pink Flamingo hotel and bought a small souvenir snow globe which I stashed in my carry-on, not thinking it was OMG…. liquid. The screener at security took the snow globe, claiming he couldn’t be sure what the liquid was!!. The snow globe was completely sealed, it had be be under three ozs and still had the price tag from the Pink Flamingo hotel, but nooooo, he claimed it could be dangerous. Are they not allowed to use the brains God gave them? Really folks. I want to be safe but is there no common sense?

  27. A few weeks after 9/11 I was going through security to board an internal United Kingdom flight. The X-ray detected metal in my hand luggage and it was manually checked to ensure it wasn’t a knife or scissors. My car keys had been the cause of the alert and I said casually how easy it would be to use the sharp end to inflict a wound ( I now realise how foolish this comment was). But all he said was “yes, but they are not on the list” and let me through.

  28. And this policy on drinks also applied to concert venues. A few years ago we went to an outdoor Donny Osmond concert – hey, my wife wanted to go ok – and had to throw away the unopened plastic bottles of water we had with us. The people behind us had a complete picnic which they also had to throw. Water and food was available inside the venue of course. What happened to ‘innocent until proved guilty’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s