Duty Free Lunacy at LGW

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This topic contains 23 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  PatJordan 17 Dec 2010
at 20:57

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  • Anonymous


    Going through LGW today, I decided to buy a bottle for Xmas.

    At the till, I was somewhat taken aback when the cashier informed me (not asked) to produce my passport. As in “I need to see your passport.”

    I asked why and she isaid that she had to match the name on the passport with the boarding pass; I said that was not a satisfactory answer and would she summon a supervisor if she was unable to explain why she needed sight of a document that she had no power to insist should be produced.

    To cut a long story short, I was informed that the police ran a ‘sting’ on under age drinking in the duty free shops and they were caught out, so the establishment now has a policy that everyone (bear in mind I am over 50) must produce their passport, to prove their age.

    I informed them, quite politely, that I would prefer to buy a bottle from an establishment who were not managed by people who have become detached from reality and left the shop. (I made the purchase on arrival at my home airport.)

    However, three questions arise in my mind

    1) If the security situation is a grave as some say (Martyn Sinclair, come on down), is running stings in airports the best use of police resources?

    2) How comfortable are you in handing over a sensitive document to a cashier, who might be able to easily capture some details under the counter very quckly and unobtrusively? (edited to add RFID chip vulnerability as being my concern.)

    3) For the UK residents, how do you feel about living in a country where it is considered appropriate for a shop to decide to demand a passport (specifically) to complete such a transaction?

    PS: When I lived in the UK, Trading Standards enforced under age alcohol sales, not the police – when did this change?


    To be honest, I don’t understand your concerns. My experience is that often at airports around the world, all purchasers are requested to show their passport and boarding pass at the register. They are checking that you and the boarding pass holder are the same person. Why, I don’t know but I guess they think there is a valid reason. They simply check the passport photo and name against the boarding pass (all quite visible to you) and that’s it. I hardly think they can “capture some details under the counter very quickly and unobtrusively” .


    This is a good one if we want to cheer up our Mrs.


    I don’t remember an experience like this, although this can happen for other reasons, for example if someone has a boarding pass and gives it to others in order to buy on duty free prices (not very common though).


    I agree it is lunacy to demand a proof of age from a 50 year old man for an under age customer!!!!

    Laws should be applied INTELLIGENTLY!!!!! Otherwise there is bound to be many indignant customers and LOSS of sales. All Duty Free stores NEED their sale volume to survive the high airport rents.

    Just like I am now not stopped for age identification for entering into a club as the bouncer can clearly see I am no longer under the legal drinking age limit by many many years even with a youthful Asian face!

    Enjoy your drink!



    I have to contradict you as I have bought many champagnes over a period during this summer at LHR and nobody asked me to produce my passport. Boarding Pass yes and it is very acceptable.


    Oz Traveller

    You need to read this


    and this


    The reader could be hidden, you will never see it.



    This is something i wasn’t aware and it makes it very serious.

    At the beginning i though you was overreacted but you have the point here.

    I searched on Google and they sell passport covers with RFID protection.

    Thanks for sharing this one.



    Disgusted, reading your initial post, I thought you were making a mountain out of a molehill.

    Having read the two links you provided later, I am amazed at how easily personal data can be taken.

    Thanks for sharing this, and for raising my awareness of this issue.



    Thanks for the links. After having read these articles, they are rather scarely.

    I must excisise more cautions with my passports in the future.


    I wonder what they ask to see if you don’t have a passport? “Duty Free” is available to all passengers including those on domestic, Channel Islands and ROI which certainly all UK residents don’t need a passport.



    Verbatim “We ask for a passport, because everyone carries one.”

    Obviously not correct and evidence of half baked thinking, if such a mindless knee jerk approach can be considered thinking.


    Disgusted – it might be an idea to email Gatwick and ask the reason for this and what happens when someone does not have a passport. It would be an interesting response. I know you have been given a reason but an official line might be revealing.


    “if she was unable to explain why she needed sight of a document that she had no power to insist should be produced”.

    I think you will find that any one selling age related goods, has a right to ask for proof of age. Perhaps carry a certified copy of your birth certificate if it concenrs you that much that a till person asks you for proof of age. You must be an absolute nightmare at check in when your passport goes out of sight. What about all the personal data on your boarding card. I think the reality check is to take it as a compliment that you were indeed asked for proof of age at 50years +!

    Also Disgusted, before walking off in a strop remember that you are where you are and the till person is where they are – give them some slack……………………………………

    Its Christmas (or whatever you celebrate), smile…………….season of good will.

    I wish you the very best for the season of goodwill and here’s to a great 2011.

    Happy travels Disgusted


    Must agree it is Lunacy. Like you I am getting tired by all the so called checks that alledgely protect us and others from whatever bogeyman is flavour of the month.
    Will be interested to see what happen in T5 this afternoon….

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