Delta announced yesterday that they’ll be discontinuing onboard duty free sales as of today, August 8, 2014. The sudden decision is apparently due to a disagreement with their vendor, though it seems that’s more the catalyst rather than the reason, since they’re not planning on finding a replacement vendor.
Via Runway Girl:
The decision to end the program came after Delta and its duty free vendor, DFASS, were unable to agree on terms to resolve disagreements over how the program would be administered.
A replacement duty free vendor is not being explored at this time and all duty free items, catalogs and inflight advertisements will be removed from the aircraft in the coming weeks. Customers and employees interested in purchasing duty free items are reminded that most international airports offer a wide selection of products at duty free retail outlets.
Onboard duty free has always fascinated me. The reasons it shouldn’t be successful are obvious — it’s inherently inefficient (given today’s fuel costs, carrying a shop around the world isn’t cheap) and the selection is limited compared to what you’d get on the ground.
On the other hand, you sure do have a captive audience on an airplane. It’s probably the same reason food is often more enjoyable on planes. When you don’t have anything else useful to do, you’re more likely to make irrational decisions and impulse purchases.
I’m not really surprised Delta is cutting duty free. For many non-US airlines, duty free is massive business. I know some airlines where on flights to Africa it’s not unusual to sell six figures worth of stuff through duty free. Though that’s typically on airlines that have a decent selection, and also airlines where crews are properly incentivized to sell. I don’t know how Delta rewarded flight attendants for duty free sales, but I know at least one other major US airline where flight attendants had virtually no incentive to sell, which is probably a large part of the reason it’s not so successful here.
Still, for the frequent traveler this is probably good news. It means fewer onboard announcements, less noise in the galley and the cabin, and hopefully the lights being dimmed more quickly after the meal service.
I’ve actually made my fair share of onboard duty free purchases over the years. No, not brand name merchandise, but rather I’m a sucker for airline branded teddy bears, etc.
I couldn’t say no to this Cathay Pacific pilot bear or ANA iPhone case, for example:
Are you happy or sad to see onboard duty free go?