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Duty-free shops ?
Old 07-18-2017, 10:59 AM   #1
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Duty-free shops ?

I've traveled (from the US) internationally approximately 25-30 times through the years.

I've seen the duty free shops in the airports when coming and going. Lately, I've seen even bigger and more shops in these airports -- no doubt due to the extended pre-flight times that international travelers are spending in airports.

I see plenty of folks shopping in these duty-free stores....and have even heard folks planning to shop there during an upcoming foreign trip.

When I've had the time and/or was suitably bored, I'd wander through them, but most things there either are not of interest to me or seem a bit pricey....or would be heavy to lug along in addition to my luggage (e.g. bottles of liquor).

I've bought a few boxes of chocolates as gifts when leaving Europe, but that's been about it.

So, what's the scoop on these? Have I been missing some great shopping opportunities due to my ignorance? OR are they mostly for non-LBYM types?

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Old 07-18-2017, 11:12 AM   #2
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Whenever I have looked at them, I always look at the booze prices since I know what it sells for at home.
I've never seen it cheaper than at home.
I have seen in some stores on Caribbean cruise that booze would be cheaper than at home by $4/bottle.
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Old 07-18-2017, 11:18 AM   #3
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I think if you live in a country with high import duties these shops might be a valuable resource. But I've never seen a good deal for me in any of them.
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Old 07-18-2017, 12:07 PM   #4
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Whenever I have looked at them, I always look at the booze prices since I know what it sells for at home.
I've never seen it cheaper than at home.
I have seen in some stores on Caribbean cruise that booze would be cheaper than at home by $4/bottle.
Right. I've traveled extensively internationally for over 30 years.

At best the duty free prices were within a few bucks of what I can get at a discount liquor store at home; and I don't have to lug it around. As noted, some countries have higher duty tax but for the US I never found it worth the effort to save $4-$5 on a bottle.
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Old 07-18-2017, 12:17 PM   #5
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I've typically picked up alcohol, especially when heading TO my destination-gives me a liquor supply when I land, without the risk of it being pilfered form checked bags. VERY handy when I landed in Panama City, Panama late at night before a holy day (Good Friday) and alcohol could not be sold anywhere that evening or the next day. I like a few fingers of scotch at night. One sneaky practice I've noticed is producing certain varieties only for the duty-free market so you really don't know what it would sell for in a store.

On my last trip I looked for cigarettes in Duty-Free, typically the other bargain besides alcohol. I don't smoke but send cigarettes to a BIL who's on a tight budget and lives in CA where they're crazy expensive. (He's over 80, already has emphysema and has few pleasures left in life.) None for sale in ATL or in San Jose, CR. Maybe the Nanny States have decided not to let us get a break on cigarettes anymore?
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Old 07-18-2017, 12:18 PM   #6
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But, but, "Operators are standing by", "Sale ends in 20 minutes", "Only the first three callers are eligible for...."
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Old 07-18-2017, 12:29 PM   #7
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OK, I just googled duty free shops , there was a bunch of drop down boxes , I punched in Atlanta as It was at the top, took another random airlines pinnacle? to some random location, They wanted $2999 for a bottle of booze I paid $2800 for. So i did not comparison shop, no haggling, and no bargain. Stick to roaming the aisles and take a few sprays of some expensive perfumes if they have testers out. https://www.dutyfreeamericas.com/sto...pirits/cognac/
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Old 07-18-2017, 12:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by athena53 View Post
I've typically picked up alcohol, especially when heading TO my destination-gives me a liquor supply when I land, without the risk of it being pilfered form checked bags. VERY handy when I landed in Panama City, Panama late at night before a holy day (Good Friday) and alcohol could not be sold anywhere that evening or the next day.....
Only time I bought some on the way was a long time ago.
A flight from Canada to Cuba sold bottles of booze on the plane
So I bought a 12 oz vodka bottle.
When I cut my foot on some coral 3 days later, it turned out to be a handy antiseptic as the resort didn't have any medical supplies.
So I poured my vodka over my cut to sterilize it.
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Old 07-18-2017, 01:07 PM   #9
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I have not found any bargains at duty free shops in a long time. I think that those shops have become a source of entertainment for the captive audience of travelers waiting for their next flight.
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Old 07-18-2017, 02:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by athena53 View Post
I've typically picked up alcohol, especially when heading TO my destination-gives me a liquor supply when I land, without the risk of it being pilfered form checked bags. VERY handy when I landed in Panama City, Panama late at night before a holy day (Good Friday) and alcohol could not be sold anywhere that evening or the next day. I like a few fingers of scotch at night. One sneaky practice I've noticed is producing certain varieties only for the duty-free market so you really don't know what it would sell for in a store.

On my last trip I looked for cigarettes in Duty-Free, typically the other bargain besides alcohol. I don't smoke but send cigarettes to a BIL who's on a tight budget and lives in CA where they're crazy expensive. (He's over 80, already has emphysema and has few pleasures left in life.) None for sale in ATL or in San Jose, CR. Maybe the Nanny States have decided not to let us get a break on cigarettes anymore?

+1.

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When I was playing road warrior, I would also snag some wine or liqueur on my OB flight. That way, when I got where I was going,I had one less task to deal with (example - arriving in Monterrey MX in 2010 at 10 PM - not a time I want to walk around looking for adult beverages). Nor do I care for hotel bars - they mostly suck.

Diversion story- I was on a flight from CDG back to states. My seatmate, coming off a year of embassy duty in Tel Aviv, indulged in a grand bottle of scotch at the CDG duty free to enjoy once he got home. Oops, the US pre-clearance TSA rules applied (no more than 3 ounces of liquid in a single container). So, in the TSA hopper it went.
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Old 07-18-2017, 02:23 PM   #11
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Only time I bought some on the way was a long time ago.
A flight from Canada to Cuba sold bottles of booze on the plane
So I bought a 12 oz vodka bottle.
When I cut my foot on some coral 3 days later, it turned out to be a handy antiseptic as the resort didn't have any medical supplies.
So I poured my vodka over my cut to sterilize it.
Hopefully, there was ample volume to allow for both external and internal medicinal application.
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Old 07-18-2017, 02:30 PM   #12
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Stick to roaming the aisles and take a few sprays of some expensive perfumes if they have testers out.
I did that a few times (mens cologne in my case) passing thru Heathrow after stinky, hi-stress business meetings in France with no hotel layover.

I did score Cuban cigars in Toronto (I believe) when they were a "hot verboten" item for a smoker friend.


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Old 07-18-2017, 02:30 PM   #13
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I think that those shops have become a source of entertainment for the captive audience of travelers waiting for their next flight.
A day pass to a lounge is cheaper! Don't tell anybody, though- they'll just crowd into the lounges and they'll no longer be a peaceful oasis away from the retail shops!
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Old 07-18-2017, 02:30 PM   #14
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Funny that out-bound liquor purchases have been mentioned.

While going to Frankfurt in May, I noticed that a couple of German businessmen who were boarding just in front of me had purchased duty-free liquor.

Several hours before landing, I noticed that the flight attendants nearby were all in a tizzy and speaking to each other above our heads. And then one of them confiscated a near-empty bottle of booze from one of those businessmen...telling him that he'd get it back upon landing.

From my observation, I guess this is not an infrequent occurrence (and is generally overlooked?), but if the flight attendants SEE the liquor being poured, they will confiscate the bottle for the duration of the trip.

Same flight, while waiting at the carousel for luggage delivery in Frankfurt, I saw two young guys (early 20s) sitting on the floor nearby. They had a near-empty liquor bottle (purchased from duty free in U.S.) that they kept pouring into their cans of soda pop.

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Old 07-18-2017, 03:06 PM   #15
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I did that a few times (mens cologne in my case) passing thru Heathrow after stinky, hi-stress business meetings in France with no hotel layover.

I did score Cuban cigars in Toronto (I believe) when they were a "hot verboten" item for a smoker friend.


_B
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Old 07-18-2017, 03:10 PM   #16
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Diversion story- I was on a flight from CDG back to states. My seatmate, coming off a year of embassy duty in Tel Aviv, indulged in a grand bottle of scotch at the CDG duty free to enjoy once he got home. Oops, the US pre-clearance TSA rules applied (no more than 3 ounces of liquid in a single container). So, in the TSA hopper it went.
Right, had a friend go through this. If you change flights and have to exit the international and re-enter the domestic, you are up a creek with your liquid (if in the carry on).

There are apocryphal (maybe not!) stories of people consuming whole bottles of their precious liquor to avoid it going in the hopper.
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Old 07-18-2017, 03:26 PM   #17
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I think you need to take into consideration:
  • The best deals are on items that are heavily taxed (both import taxes and sales taxes) at home like alcohol and tobacco.
  • Home currency strength
  • Simply how good of a deal it is. A duty-free store is still a store and they have to be able to efficiently source the product cheaply in order to pass on the savings to you (or not). And they can also have discounts and special offers to sweeten the deal.
  • Some countries have cheaper duty free for whatever reason. Duty-free alcohol seems fairly expensive in Europe. It seems fairly cheap on cruises.
The golden years for me were a couple of years ago when the Canadian dollar was at par or stronger than the US greenback, we could save on the 12% sales taxes in British Columbia using our personal exemptions, and the store offered some kind of BOGO or other deal.
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Old 07-19-2017, 09:00 AM   #18
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I used to purchase cigarettes during the mid-late 90's in the Balkan countries (Bosnia, Croatia, etc.) Cigarettes were $4 or $5 a carton in the duty free shops.

I think that I bought Ronhill's out of Croatia.

So glad that I quit - 10+ years ago. The desire to retire "healthy" influenced my decision to quit.

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Old 07-19-2017, 09:24 AM   #19
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Right, had a friend go through this. If you change flights and have to exit the international and re-enter the domestic, you are up a creek with your liquid (if in the carry on).

There are apocryphal (maybe not!) stories of people consuming whole bottles of their precious liquor to avoid it going in the hopper.
I was told that this has been recently fixed is recently fixed at selected airports, and the problem above was from pre-2015. Check with your duty free shop before buying to assure they have proper tamper packaging. If they do, the shop will put the bottle in some sort of special tamper bag that passes TSA inspection muster.

Now if you open the bag and take a swig, you'll have to finish it.
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Old 07-19-2017, 09:31 AM   #20
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Last year I flew from Malta to Dublin with a connecting flight in LHR. I purchased a bottle Maltese liqueur at the duty free in Malta, which was to be a gift. The clerk put it in a normal plastic bag. I asked her to seal it. She declined, stating that there would be no problem. I carried the bottle to LHR, only to have a British customs officer confiscate it. 16 down the drain! I did communicate this to the Maltese airport authority. Staff should be better trained. Heck, I should have known better!
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