The beginning of the end for inflight duty free sales?Back to Forum
There are on occasion some bargains to be had, but these 40% off promotions are Happening day in day out. Cabin Crew on LCCs have targets and it’s down to the discretion of the cabin manager if they are going to activate one depending on how sales are going. The trouble is that the airlines only take a commission on the sales from Tourvest, Alpha etc even airline exclusive items like the easyJet bear or BA 788 model are not owned by them and margins are pretty low especially on intra EU flights where the stock is not duty free. They just can’t compete with the likes of Dufry, Heinemann or Lagadere who are buying in horrific quantities from the suppliers and selling directly at the airport even when you take into account the rebates they give to the airport operators.
The death knell will be when restrictions on liquids are finally lifted and that bottle of scotch that you can buy in the supermarket €5 cheaper is allowed back into hand luggage.12 Mar 2019
I actually enjoy reading the duty free catalogue and do buy regularly. There are some classic purchases, like the Pimm’s on BA in Summer, and the occasional such as the RIFD protection card I still carry in my wallet. Now from the airline’s perspective, duty free sales might not make sense on all flights. But it does on many, at least to meet the customers’ expectations.13 Mar 2019
BA short-haul cabin crew still push the trolley through the cabin trying to fool the pax by offering “duty-free” goods years after these were withdrawn from EU flights! Trading standards!13 Mar 2019
I don’t think the question is whether “duty free” sales will end, more a question of whether on board shopping will end.
My view – whilst it is an income generator for an airline it will always remain.
Can you imagine the Ryan with no shopping cart on board (duty free or non duty free).
My last on board purchase – a BA flight (European) and it was about convenience not price…13 Mar 2019
A lot depends on what kind of Duty Free sales agreement an airline has.
For some it’s completely managed by the airline ‘in house’.
For others, airlines literally rent out the trolley space to inflight retail specialists who then receive the revenue from the sales.
One thing is certain – at BA, if it wasn’t financially viable, it would have been gone L O N G ago. I’ve seen BA remove a milk or water jug from the aircraft as a ‘weight cost saving’ exercise. There is no way that six or seven heavy duty free trolleys would be carried around for no financial gain.13 Mar 2019
@rferguson, The enthusiasm of cabin crew in selling duty free has always intrigued me. Often on short flights when descending for landing and the seat belt sign is on, all service is a no-no except finalising a duty free transaction e.g. returning change or even giving the item already ordered earlier and charging for it. I have noticed this trend across airlines and on various routes and often wondered whether cabin crew get some sort of incentive for selling duty free.13 Mar 2019
@rferguson, The enthusiasm of cabin crew in selling duty free has always intrigued me. Often on short flights when descending for landing and the seat belt sign is on, all service is a no-no except finalising a duty free transaction e.g. returning change or even giving the item already ordered earlier and charging for it. I have noticed this trend across airlines and on various routes and often wondered whether cabin crew get some sort of incentive for selling duty free.
It varies airline to airline Ahmad. Typically, only one or a few of the crew have an involvement in the sales of Duty Free. I think nearly all airlines pay crew a commission. At some the people that sell the duty free get it all. At BA at the end of the flight once the sales total is tallied, 10% is given as crew commission. This is divided amongst the operating crew with those who have a position involved directly in the sale of DF receiving a double share.
For us on the legacy fleets at BA we don’t admittedly put much an effort in as the GBP20-30 per month we receive is pretty negligible on the grand scale of things.
1 user thanked author for this post.14 Mar 2019
Whilst I have no problem with people being rewarded for working harder, and that includes earning commission on duty free sales, I do resent this when it becomes obtrusive.
About 20 years ago I flew JNB-LHR on SAA in F. The steward was an elderly Afrikaner with the typical ‘Spoorweg’ attitude (those of you who are familiar with ZA will know exactly what I mean.) Sense of entitlement, resentful, and waiting to retire.
Before we’d even taken off, he’d asked me if I wanted a DF catalogue, to which I replied that I’d have a look at one later, knowing that the chances of my buying anything were just about nil. He tried to put it into my hands, and I asked him to put it on the adjacent seat. Five minutes later he asked me if I’d ‘made my choices’. When I said I had 12 hours in front of me to do so, he said : “There are some good deals in there, you might miss out.” He wasn’t being friendly or jokey, he was being downright obnoxious and pushy, so I handed him back the catalogue and said I wouldn’t be buying anything, and added that whilst I had no problem with him earning commission, I did object to his pushy attitude which was more appropriate to an Egyptian street market.
I then had possibly the worst F class dinner and breakfast I’d ever had, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d spat in it!
I thought perhaps he was picking on me until I heard him speaking to the only other F passenger, a very pleasant and non-confrontational Jewish gentleman who had ordered Kosher meals only to be told : “You didn’t and there aren’t any on board so you’ll have to make do with normal food.” Anyway he and I raided the wine trolley and enjoyed a few hours of lovely chatting and joking amidst a haze of Shiraz fumes, much to the distress of our steward friend who had done his best to ensure we wouldn’t enjoy the flight!14 Mar 2019
KLM In flight sales, can already be ordered prior to your flight as late as 48hrs before. There is a link on your booking to browse, and they will deliver it all pre-paid and in a bag to the aircraft, and hand it over to you during the flight. You are offered a 10-15% discount also, or you can have some items delivered to your home in the UK, on the basis that you are taking a long haul flight with The Airline. This works very well.
Shortly after take off, a designated crew member confirm they have the items for you, and ask when you would like to have them. they are delivered to The Aircraft and i have found it very efficient and reliable. They tend to be unique items, electronics, not alcohol or liquids. I think people generally buy what they can not, or would not find at airports, or be able to order at home. I think many of these items they sell, really do need to be different and reflect cultural differences, and an opportunity to buy something you would not find elsewhere.
I am sure this could be promoted more, whilst meeting the need to reduce weight, space, and indeed crew time, whilst still raising revenue, with a 100% stock take up!
Failing this, could they not be collected at The Gate prior to boarding, at least out of Schiphol for flights?
Who knows with Brexit imminent, whether purchase of these items if in Europe, would then be taxable, or somehow needing declaration, as imported if travelling into the UK?
But note, If you collect these on a KLM flight, and you have a further connection, they have to be sealed if liquids, receipt inside visible, Airline certificated on what flight and date. So if you are travelling on, if this is not completed, or you open them, you may lose them at the next Security point, in another country and airport.14 Mar 2019
But note, If you collect these on a KLM flight, and you have a further connection, they have to be sealed if liquids, receipt inside visible, Airline certificated on what flight and date. So if you are travelling on, if this is not completed, or you open them, you may lose them at the next Security point, in another country and airport.
Thank you for making this very important point. While transiting BKK I have often seen expensive stuff being drained into bins next to security in front of hapless owners.14 Mar 2019
Giving out Duty Free at the gate rather than onboard does create an issue. I can see that the airport DF retailer would take offence at this as this is officially on their patch, whereas onboard delivery or inflight doesn’t have such issues.14 Mar 2019