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Airports that tell vendors not to rip travelers off.

Airports that tell vendors not to rip travelers off.

Old Oct 19, 07, 8:32 am
  #1  
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Airports that tell vendors not to rip travelers off.

Portland and IAD are the two that come to mind.
The food outlets are told not to charge more for ther products than they do at thir in town locations.
One fella I was chatting with felt that it was comunnist price fixing plot-that it should be a market driven matter and that a merchant should be able to charge whatever he wishes.
I countered that the buisnesses knew what they were getting into-and felt the profits would outweigh any such restrictions.
What do you as frequent travellers/consumers of these outlets think?
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Old Oct 19, 07, 8:58 am
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I have eaten meals at PDX & IAD. Their food charges are reasonable. I like being able to pay the same as street prices. The places that charge too much for food (and/or not having a decent selection--CLE comes to mind) are not on my list. LAX tends to be on the pricy side--I have only eaten there when I got a small food voucher on a bump. ORD can be expensive. I have eaten at DFW, IAH, AUS, etc. At least, I can have a dollar burger at DFW & IAH. (I haven't been to IAH in a few years so the prices have changed--at least I had some good BBQ at those airports).

I haven't been to CLE in several years, but I didn't like having to go to overpriced Burger King Express to eat. Poor food choices there. SFO is expensive but in the late 90's, I would find the Burger King for cheaper eats. (I am not usually a Burger King fan, but getting a meal for $4 when the cheapest meal elsewhere in that airport was pushing $10 at the time).

I like PDX because the food prices were inexpensive and no sales tax. ^

Bottom line: I like airports to have street pricing and decent selection of eating places. Otherwise, I will eat before I get to the airport if airport prices are too high. (like $7 McDonald's meals at some airports).
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Old Oct 19, 07, 9:03 am
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I am more likely to spend money at airport outlets that charge regular prices. If I feel they are in effect price-gouging I won't spend the $ there. As previous poster noted, they were aware of what they're getting into by being in the airport.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 9:04 am
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If a government/state/city is going to own/run an airport, it's a good thing - just like free wifi.

But I don't see why airports should be owned and run by governments/cities/states, and in that case I don't believe that the appropriate regulating body (eg the City) should enforce any such requirement.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 9:18 am
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I had a good laugh when I saw a Burger King meal @ LAS for 9.59$.

Needless to say they didn't get a penny from me. [Not to mention that I was on a mileage run ]

JP
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Old Oct 19, 07, 9:32 am
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I am fine with it until someone shows me that there is some exorbitant cost associated with the airport location that would require the retailer to drastically up prices to maintain some level of profitability.

Eg. the rent in an airport is most likely more expensive but does it really warrant a 4$ increase in the price of a hamburger?
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Old Oct 19, 07, 9:35 am
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I'm always amazed at the prices charged at Burbank, once you cross security. You can't get a minimal breakfast for less than $8 or $9.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 9:48 am
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While I generally favor the "let the market decide" position, this is one situation in which government limits are appropriate -- at least for food vendors.

The free market economy only works when the consumers really are free to decide -- like out on the street, where they can easily forego an overpriced or poor quality option in favor of a more reasonable one. In an airport, there are greater limitations on consumers. If you're just coming in off the street, you could theoretically bring your meal, but you might be lugging several bags and/or not have room in your carryon, you won't be able to bring any any beverages through security, it might not be mealtime yet, or whatever. And on connections, you're truly trapped. Even with a couple of hours' connection time, the need to go back through security and possibly navigate an unfamiliar area around the airport for food options doesn't lend itself well to the concept of a free market. Thus, it is appropriate for airports to place limitations on food vendors.

I'd look at it differently if we're talking about non-food vendors -- whether books, clothing or whatever. The need for those products within a particular timeframe usually isn't as pressing as the need for food, so purchasing before or after the trip is a much more viable option. I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions to this as well, but at least they're just exceptions. For food, it's more the general rule.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 9:53 am
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I believe PIT was one of the first airports to do this when the new airport opened about 12 yrs ago with the "mall" at the airport
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Old Oct 19, 07, 10:00 am
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Denver has a similar arrangement - In theory, shops and restaurants are not supposed to charge more. Apparently its in their contracts.

However, practice shows that they do charge more...

- Il
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Old Oct 19, 07, 10:01 am
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Originally Posted by Wainwright View Post
I am fine with it until someone shows me that there is some exorbitant cost associated with the airport location that would require the retailer to drastically up prices to maintain some level of profitability.

Eg. the rent in an airport is most likely more expensive but does it really warrant a 4$ increase in the price of a hamburger?

The usuall explination you get from these locations is that they pay a high rental fee for the location.
This usually falls apart when you mention that they have a captive audience with minminal options.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 10:01 am
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I think it's a bit of a gray area because of the government involvement in running most airports.

I certainly don't think would price fixing for a stadium owner, for example, to set maximum price levels for concessions at the stadium. The owner has a vested interest in getting people out to events, and since one way to do that might be to offer reasonably-priced food and drinks, they should be able to tell their food service contractors what they can charge. (Not that any staidums have tried this approach . . . )

Similarly, airports (may) have an interest in making travelers' experience more pleasant to encourage more connecting traffic or maybe just to give travelers a better first impression of the city/region. Reasonably-priced food (and free WiFi, as another poster mentioned) could certainly be part of this effort. In that sense, airports should have the right to dictate terms to their vendors to be able to provide the overall experience they want. It's still a market system -- if they make the terms to onerous, they won't have much choice in vendors, so the airport authority can't be too harsh in their conditions.

Where it gets gray (IMO) is that airports are frequently run by a government or quasi-government agency, and in most cases, they don't have any real competition. Even where there are multiple airports near each other, they are often under the same authority (e.g. BWI-IAD-DCA). Business that want to provide services for airport travelers don't have that many options, so I'm a bit leery of giving the airport authorities too much leeway in dictating terms.

That said, in the end, I think that setting price caps for airport food is ok. I think the interest of the airport in providing a better overall experience for travelers trumps the desire of a business to be able to charge whatever they can to a somewhat captive audience. And the business definitely know what they're getting into, so they can determine whether it makes business sense for them to have a location at the airport.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 10:03 am
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Originally Posted by Ilwith View Post
Denver has a similar arrangement - In theory, shops and restaurants are not supposed to charge more. Apparently its in their contracts.
I think they're capped at a certain percentage above nearby non-airport locations. And I haven't found prices at DIA to be too bad; a little more expensive that off-airport, but nothing like the $10 fast food meals other posters have mentioned.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 10:06 am
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I support the free market approach. Indeed I think that expensive fast food at airport actually is a GOOD thing as the companies still make a decent total profit because of the large per unit margin, which is also the reason that fewer people eat unhealthy food and the employees are not as overworked as their in-city counterparts.

I do, however, have a problem with drinks. I used to carry water and the odd energy drink in my rollaboard. That's not possible now and if I don't have access to the lounge I often find myself going thirsty in order to avoid paying 1 for a 15p bottle of water or 1.70 for a 23p energy drink.

I say: REGULATE DRINKS PRICES NOW.
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Old Oct 19, 07, 11:47 am
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It's usually referred to as the "downtown price guaranty" which isn't usually a real bargain either.

I couldn't believe in whatever airport I was in last (think San Francisco) that the vending machines for 20 ounce diet cokes was $3, each.

Obviously, they don't have such a guaranty there.
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