Site Loader

Do you feel like every time you go to the airport you are paying an arm and a leg for food and other items? Why are airport prices so high? A simple tuna sandwich with a drink and chips can easily cost you three times more than at a local grocery store or restaurant. Are airports involved in price gouging? While some airports are cracking down on the high price of food, others allow retailers to set their own prices. Mainly high prices are due to supply and demand. Travelers need to eat between their flights, and they have a limited amount of time to do so. Convenience and quality are offered by most airport stores, allowing customers more than the water and peanuts that they receive on the airplane.

Blaming the Airlines

Higher airport pricing is also caused by the strict rules from airlines. With fuel costs at an all-time high, airlines are charging for a number of things like luggage and food. Airport retailers have caught on and have found that they can make a great deal of money by increasing the price of water and other goods. Sitting on a plane for several hours without anything to eat or drink motivates many people to stop at the airport stores and grab a bottle of water. Since airport security doesn’t allow people to bring most foods and drinks with them, passengers are limited in their ability to bring water from home. If you aren’t brining an empty water bottle and filling it up with drinking water, the only option you have is to buy it from the airport vendors. Airlines have also reduced the number of flights, and increased security measures mean people arrive at the airport two or three hours before their flight. Since most airlines don’t offer more than a small sip of water and pretzels or peanuts, passengers are forced to eat inside the airports. Since there is limited competition in airports, vendors can take advantage of the lack of supply and charge more for basic breath mints, gum, and water.

Fancier Brands

Not only are customers finding that a bottle of water can cost three times as much at the airport compared to local stores, many airports are offering gourmet foods and other things. Paying for a bottle of “Smart Water” compared to a basic store-brand already costs more at the grocery store. Airport vendors are taking advantage of these name brands and charging more for them. Courting the fancier brands might make the vendors appear legitimate, but the mainly they want to make more money. Some people find that they prefer the name brands and are willing to pay more for them.

Extra Costs

When vendors renew their contracts with airports, many of the airports are willing to let them set their own prices without regulation because they don’t want to lose their business. Airport policies vary but overall operating costs can be more expensive compared to a traditional retailer in the local city. Most airport stores operate with smaller square footage, and most places are open for at least 24 hours. This requires more money to operate them, and they are limited in the stock they can carry. They deal with late-night deliveries and have the challenge of finding employees willing to work the night shifts. While the high prices don’t bother everyone, there are quite a few travelers that engage in different savings options to reduce how much they spend between flights.


Troy Bartlett focuses almost exclusively on travel, airport issues and vacationing. He doesn’t let the high prices of airport goods prevent him from traveling abroad, and recently visited to learn more about luxury rentals in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Image credit goes to Bahman Farzad.