It’s an airport, not a conveyor belt.

Transport, Travel & Tourism Blog

Lynn Tweedale

Is it me, or does it now seem there’s never enough time to enjoy the delights of airport departure lounges?

As a kid I remember sitting there for an eternity with my colouring-in books and my mum unwrapping packed lunch sandwiches from the family sized cool box. Now, I’m first in the queue as check-in opens, I’m through security in a well rehearsed shoes off, liquids out hand luggage scan, and just as I get to Ted Baker….my name’s called over the Tannoy and I’m back out the door. Shopping – denied!

I can understand the need to keep passengers moving through terminals to avoid over-crowding, but it’s not encouraging the customer experience of relaxation if that’s what you’re after.

Research shows that for many, airport shopping marks the official start of a holiday for almost one in five (18%) Britons.  With over half (57%) of all Brits making a last minute impulse purchase in addition to the obligatory bottle of water and Werther’s Originals for the flight, airport retail has the potential to be an A380.  Huge.

It just seems to me the airport enforced conveyer belt is making retail miss a trick.  We all know duty-free is no longer the bargain it used to be, but I want the giant Toblerone, I should treat my boyfriend to the bottle of Jack Daniels (to appease the guilty feeling of having gone on holiday without him) and I want to arrive at my destination with 12 different perfumes on different parts on my arms having been chased by the fragrance spritzer ladies through Estée Lauder.

…And that’s not to mention missed income on food expenditure.  When taking a flight recently through Gatwick with a friend, we felt unable to join the ever growing queue at Jamie’s Italian restaurant with the limited time we had to departure.  Thank goodness for those Werther’s and Toblerone!

For those frequent flyers amongst us who see, and bypass the shops (how very dare you), there’s the premium lounges.  For membership, or one off fee, you get access to complementary drinks, snacks and newspapers etc.  Sounds bliss!  And perfect as most offer up to 3 hours residency…if only you can get there soon enough to charge your phone and enjoy the bucks fizz.

I think perhaps we’re spoiled for choice in Gatwick and Heathrow – so much to do, so little time – something which I rarely experience at the return leg airport.  I was astounded by the lack of…well…ANYTHING at Miami International Airport, the layout at Nice had everyone in the same long queue at the ‘only’ cafe, only to realise the rest was hidden round the corner and Zurich is so corporate I feel I should greet the waitress with a handshake.  But we love their quirks – they are, after all, all part of the experience.

And if all else fails, where there are no shops to tempt us, there’s always the cafe at Madrid Terminal 1…


My thoughts exactly!


  • Airports
  • Customer Experience