20 Ways Airports Get You to Spend More Money – Welcome Jet Traveler! Aren’t you excited about this trip?! Before you fly off to that long-awaited vacay, you have one task: get to your gate without giving in to the airport’s sly ways of separating you from your moolah! Think you can do it? Well, it all starts in…
1. The parking lot
Parking at the airport costs a fortune. You can pay less if there’s a nearby Park & Go building or at the hotel next to the airport if there is one. If there isn’t, take a cab, ride service, or airport train instead. There’s always a trade-off between cost and convenience.
2. Long waiting times
Airports encourage you to arrive early to clear security checks and not miss your flight. But chances are you’ll have loads of free time, so you’ll just end up hanging out in the cafes, shops, and restaurants until boarding time. You can spend less if you plan ahead. Have a good hearty meal before you head to the airport, bring sealed snacks, and take a water bottle to fill up at the drinking fountains. We usually end up spending on food and drinks because you can’t go without!
3. Limiting liquids
Yes, the 3-1-1 liquids rule is for security reasons. But do you pack a travel-sized bottle of water or juice with you? Nope – you gotta buy that once you get through security! Hence the refillable bottle I just mentioned. Sure, you can only get water, but it’s better than overspending on refreshments!
4. Airport layout
Airports are designed with a specific goal in mind: get travelers to spend more. If you’re right-handed like 90% of the population, then you instinctively look to the right as you walk through curves leaning to the left. And before you know it, you find yourself in one of those cool-looking shops on the way. Next time you’re surrounded by all these retail spots, just keep walking and your bank account will keep smiling.
5. “Duty-free” shopping
Now for your bank account’s worse nightmare: Duty Free. It’s the first thing you see after security. You know, right after they throw away your soda and 4-oz shampoo! And when you go to replace what you lost or to just pass the time, you’ll be paying heavily for it! Even without the duties and taxes, that doesn’t mean goods will be cheap. Significant markups are padded on most items, even with that alluring “Duty Free” label on it!
6. Bright Spacious Stores
Ever noticed how big and spacious airport stores are? “Oh, how convenient! That means I can still shop while toting all these bags around!” That’s the idea…You might also find that you’re drawn to the stores with access to direct light. Those big windows everywhere sure help! Well don’t fall for it.
7. Sales, Promos, and Bonuses!
Congratulations – you’ve made your way through Duty Free without giving into the temptation! But your task isn’t over yet! You’ll still find yourself in the middle of the main shopping area with all kinds of stores and restaurants around. Careful! This is where you’ll likely spend more time until your boarding call. You’ll quickly notice all kinds of banners for big discounts: Buy1- Get1 offers, freebies, food and fragrance samples. You might even see a well-displayed handbag marked ‘FREE’. The catch? You must spend a minimum amount on other store items!
8. Self-Service Kiosks
Yes, a convenience and lifesaver for those of us who’d rather just do it ourselves: check yourself in, grab something to eat and swipe your debit card. When you take out the human service provider, it’s been proven that efficiency and speed go up. You should know by now what that means – more idle time to shop!
9. Carpeted Walkways
When it comes to walking around the airport,carpets create a calming effect that hard flooring doesn’t. Studies have shown that relaxed passengers spend 7% more at retail stores and 10% more at duty-free. I think I’ll be more relaxed knowing that I’m not blowing money on overpriced stuff. Nice carpet, though!
10. Sample Services
Free massage, free sample yoga sessions, try it out without spending a dime! If it really is free, then why not do it? Just remember that as you’re lying on that massage table getting your muscles smooshed around, you’re vulnerable to all kinds of sales talk about this salon’s other amazing services… that you can get for a price!
11. Limited Wi-Fi
Oh, whaddya know? You have a 30-minute to 1-hour limit on the airport Wi-Fi – great! Hey, at least it’s working – can’t tell you how many times it hasn’t connected for me when mobile data wasn’t an option. Is poor or limited Wi-Fi a sneaky way to get me to pass the time shopping and eating? Perhaps! Instead of depending on the Internet, bring offline options like books, magazines, or downloaded videos to stay busy at no cost!
12. Pricey Dining
Is that your tummy grumbling? You can probably see nice-looking restaurants with big windows and relaxing music. Why? Because studies show that if travelers are 1% more satisfied, then airport sales go up by 1.5%. And happy guests that hang out longer enjoying the atmosphere and ordering more food are in a restaurant’s interest – they’re paying sky-high rent for that airport location. If you want to dine in at a restaurant instead of packing a security-approved lunch, consider coupon sites. Just call the restaurant in advance to confirm they’ll accept it.
13. Strategically Located Walk-through Stores
Some newer airports have special open-concept store layouts for when you’re walking towards your departure gate. The risk of spending is super high now because you’re literally in the store as you head to where you’re going! Don’t let them trick you into browsing their shelves – maybe look at the floor just in case…
14. Waiting to announce boarding
The airport doesn’t want you to just sit or sleep in the waiting area at your gate until it’s time to board – they want you on your feet and exploring. I’d say they make that fact very clear by installing probably the most uncomfortable chairs they could find. But they also don’t announce boarding times until the last minute. Why tell all passengers on a certain flight that they’ll be leaving in an hour whenyou can cut that warning down to 20-30 minutes so that they spend more time in the stores?
15. A Long Way to the Gate
Ok, you know all these tricks the airport is trying to pull on you. You’re determined to get to your gate without spending an extra penny! Can your will-power make the long walk to the gate? Not only are you passing through an array of shopping temptations left and right, but they seem to never end! Just keep telling yourself, “I can get all this stuff at a much more reasonable price outside of this airport!” Yes I can, yes I can…
16. Last-minute Offers
At this point, you’ve resisted many temptations,and you’re finally approaching your gate. But what’s that?Last-minute retail offers? No, don’t be so relaxed to the point you end up unexpectedly spending AGAIN when you’re so close to your goal!
17. Unexpected Delays
Congrats – you’ve made it to your gate! But your flight’s been delayed. Awesome…If you’ve got a long delay and it’s time to eat, try to figure out where the airport cafeteria is. I’m talking about the one where employees go. Even if it’s far from your departure gate, it’s still worth it. Besides, you probably have time. The convenience store’s pre-packed meals are another option. If you end up deciding to go to a restaurant, you’ll need to pay the price for it!
18. Currency Exchange
So you eventually boarded the plane, and now you’ve arrived at the destination airport. You’re gonna need to change your money since you’re traveling international. Airport currency exchange booths – how convenient! But you’ll pay the price for such a convenience. Wait till you get settled in because fees are much lower and rates are better outside the airport. Better still, go to the ATM. Your bank may charge you fees, but I bet they’re lower than the exchange counters’.
19. Souvenir Stores
Don’t rush into that souvenir shop either! Again, wait until you get settled in the city or wherever you’re vacationing. Local shops outside the airport are much cheaper AND they offer way more variety! Same goes for if you’re heading back home and forgot to get something. Try to get all your souvenirs at local markets and stores – put a reminder in your phone if you must!
20. VAT Refunds
Alright, it’s time to head back home from your European vacation. Did you manage to get lots of goodies to bring back home? Those purchases likely included the standard VAT. Don’t forget to go to the VAT Refund Counter at the airport! You can present your receipt and get your money back. So, are you gonna go back and shop again or keep that cash in your wallet as you make your way to the departure gate? How tempting.