Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Aussie Airport Spending Taking-Off:

Survey uncovers a nation of duty free shopaholics and queue cutters
By Expert Tips
Date: December 01 2016
Editor Rating:

Australians are splashing their cash in airports and spending over half a billion dollars on duty free shopping annually according to new research from

Findings from the second Cheapflights #AirportLife survey showed that seven in 10 (71 per cent) people normally make a duty free purchase at the airport, with the national average spend coming in at $88 per visit. Those under 45 years of age are the biggest spenders, shelling out $42 more than their elders. Parents are also hitting the shops hard compared to travellers without children (83 per cent versus 67 per cent), and hand over approximately $43 more per visit.

This spending is in addition to the almost $210.5 million1 devoted to pre-flight booze at airports, and on top of the money spent on pre-flight priorities and activities. For example, once Aussies are past check-in, women are most likely to prioritise getting a bite to eat and stocking up on supplies (33 per cent), while men are most likely to try and find somewhere to simply sit back and relax (35 per cent). Only a lucky few (seven per cent) make a beeline for a premium airport lounge and get to enjoy its freebies.

Nathan Graham, Regional Sales Manager at Cheapflights ANZ, said: “Despite Aussies’ laid back reputation, just four per cent of people surveyed said they had ever been late for a flight, meaning the majority are arriving at the airport with time to kill. Shopping is a natural way to pass this time, and with more terminals being revamped across the world, retailers are set to benefit.

“‘Shop and Collect’ services are also making it easier to spend up big, with fliers able to make purchases prior to departure and miss the queues, simply picking up their goodies once they arrive back in Australia.”

While retail therapy keeps many Aussies satisfied and six in 10 (64 per cent) respondents said they are in a happy ‘holiday-mode’ mindset by the time they check-in, the research showed tensions can still flare easily at the airport.

Here, one in three (35 per cent) people identified queue jumping as the most annoying behaviour of fellow travellers, while a quarter (25 per cent) said they were frustrated by others ‘taking too long’ when in front of them in line.

Other top pet peeves include people being loud or holding public phone conversations (33 per cent), letting small children run around (31 per cent) or being generally unprepared (24 per cent).

Cabrini Broderick, a 22 year old communications professional from Sydney, recently returned from Europe and said she had been irritated by travellers at the airport, but had no idea her own phone conversations could have annoyed others.

“When you’re trying to manoeuvre your way through a crowd, it’s frustrating to have to dodge kids. But it didn’t even cross my mind that I could have been the annoying one for others.

“Before I went overseas for five months, mum and I had an emotional goodbye on the phone while I was waiting at the gate. Looking back, others overhearing my conversation could have found it grating, and the volume of my calls is definitely something I will consider next time.”

Additional key findings from the research include:

  • Eight in 10 (84 per cent) West Australians buy duty free, and those from the state are also the biggest spenders at $114.60 per airport visit.
  • Those from New South Wales are next in line to purchase with 76 per cent spending $93.40 on average, followed by Victorians (70 per cent buying $87.20 worth of goods), Queenslanders (67 per cent at $83.90) and South Australians (60 per cent at $73.90).
  • Women are more likely to be bothered by line cutters (40 per cent versus 30 per cent of men) while men are more likely irritated by the unprepared (26 per cent compared to 21 per cent of women).
  • Those from New South Wales and Queensland find loud conversations the most annoying airport behaviour (38 per cent and 37 per cent respectively).
  • 35 per cent of South Australians and 41 per cent of West Australians are infuriated by queue jumpers.
  • Victorians are equally irked by travellers cutting in on lines and those taking too long in the queue in front of them (31 per cent each).

To keep travellers working together, combat stresses and ensure a happy #AirportLife, here 10 airtiquette tips:

  1. Get carded: Boarding pass? Check. ID? Check. Whether you’re a frequent flier or travel just once a year, you know the drill, so stop acting surprised when you’re asked to show them. Shave off seconds in the security line by pulling out these items and having them in your hand early.
  2. Stay in your lane: Just like in traffic and when walking down the street, stay in your lane. If it is the security line, keep your hands free to swiftly go through the metal detector or scanner.
  3. Dress for success: Limit the amount of items you have to take off when travelling through security – think sweaters, belts, hats, watches and jewellery that could set off the alarm. Not only does this make for a speedy transition for you, but everyone in line behind you will be thankful.
  4. Family feud: If you’re traveling with kids in tow, decide in advance who is holding what and which caretaker is helping which child hoist what items through the scanner and ushering who through security.
  5. Everything but the kitchen sink: Even if you are traveling with kids, pack light. Airlines have restrictions on the number of carry-on items for a reason. A good rule of thumb: If you can’t carry it yourself without assistance from a luggage cart or a posse, you’ve packed too much.
  6. Easy access: Pack your laptop and tablet in an easily accessible place like the side pocket of your suitcase or a compartment in your backpack to make it easy to slide the device in and out of your bag.
  7. Choose the place: If at any time during the security screening process you feel frustrated, try to go with the flow or if you need to vent, take to social media or call later. This isn’t the time to talk back or ask a million process questions.
  8. Politely power up: When you’re done charging your device(s), move away from the charging station to allow other travellers to power up before take-off. Better yet, bring your own power strip and make some new friends.
  9. Know your space: Once you have a seat at your gate, don’t hog the entire row by putting your belongings on each seat. Instead, grab an aisle seat and neatly stack your items next to it. Not only will you get easy access to board the plane, but you won’t look like an impolite passenger either.
  10. Don’t be a gate crasher: Regardless of where you’re sitting, don’t hover at the gate. Wait for your row or zone to be called and then approach the gate with your boarding pass in hand. And always plan your pre-boarding activities accordingly so you don’t hold up the rest of the flight.

Cheapflights is a leading global flight comparison and deals publishing platform dedicated to taking the complexity out of finding the best value flights through the application of innovative, intuitive technologies: Smart search. Made simple. It is now a market leader in the UK, US, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

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