American Airlines Discontinues Duty-Free Sales on International Flights

By Paul Riegler on 23 March 2015
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Duty-free carts will no longer roll down these aisles

Duty-free carts will no longer roll down these aisles

American Airlines ended all in-flight sales of duty-free items on board its international flights late last week.

The Fort Worth-based airline said that the move came following a dispute with its vendor.

“American Airlines has stopped selling duty free merchandise on select international flights as of Friday, March 20, 2015, due to a contractual disagreement between American Airlines and DFASS, the company that had handled our onboard duty free sales,” the airline told Frequent Business Traveler.

The carrier is currently in the process of removing duty-free items, catalogs, and ads from its planes.

Sales of duty-free items on some US Airways international flights “will continue” until further notice, the airline said.

American is not the first major U.S. airline to discontinue duty-free sales, however. Delta Air Lines ended in-flight sales last August following a dispute with the airline’s duty-free vendor.

At the time Delta dropped its duty-free operations, a Delta purser, who asked that his name not be used as he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the airline, told Frequent Business Traveler he was “happy” to hear the news.  He explained that he felt the change would improve the in-flight experience for passengers, who considered it more of a disruption than a benefit.

With the increase in duty-free stores at airports as well as the greater availability of goods on the Internet, duty-free in-flight sales have been declining over the past decade.

While on-board sales have been discontinued, virtually all international airports offer duty-free shops where travelers can make purchases.  Duty-free shopping can be traced back to the 1940s when Brendan O’Regan opened up a duty-free shop that sold Irish goods to passengers on a refueling stop at Rineanna (now Shannon) Airport where he served as catering controller.

UPDATE – March 23, 2015 at 12:30 p.m. EDT

This article has been updated to incorporate new information about the reason for the discontinuation of duty-free in-flight sales, which was announced after the article went to press.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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