Shop Til’ You Drop at the Airport

As much as I hate waiting to board a flight, I enjoy the hustle and bustle of the airport. Watching the people coming and going. Looking at the schedule of the arrivals and the departures. Watching planes take off and landing. The airport is constantly a busy place.  At the same time, the airport can be a boring place if you have a couple of hours or more to wait for your connecting flight.  Two hours can be a long time to wait in an airport. Unfortunately, it’s not enough time to go outside the airport and explore the city if it’s somewhere you’ve never visited before.

shopping at the airport

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The few airports I have been to and with almost all airports in general, it seems like there is nothing to do but eat, drink and shop.  On vacation, it seems all I ever did was eat, drink (mostly water, because it was quite hot in Greece and I sweat profusely) and explore, which in my opinion way better than just shopping.

I understand the need for the convenience stores which carry the magazines, crossword puzzles and last-minute travel items you forgot to pack.  For someone who is not into shopping AT ALL, I get bored pretty quickly wandering in and out of the duty-free shops and souvenir stores.

The way I see it, I’ve already spent a lot of money on my vacation and unless I have a few dollars of foreign currency left (meaning not really enough to exchange back), I have no desire to spend the money.  Over the years, I’ve realized that pictures and memories are the best souvenirs. Big souvenirs that wouldn’t fit in my suitcase would be a pain and quite expensive to ship back. People don’t really expect souvenirs from you. They’d rather hear about your experience and look at your pictures. The odd times I do buy souvenirs, I try to look for things that were actually made in that country and I would actually use, rather than just sit on a shelf and collect dust.

Waiting creates boredom. Boredom creates the desire to do something. Shopping is to something to do to beat boredom; hence it’s why a lot of people end up shopping at the airport. Unless you are one of those people who take forever to browse, shopping can be over and done with very quickly.

The Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario (I still don’t get why it’s referred to as the Toronto Airport, when it’s clearly not in Toronto) has recently opened a gym that is open seven days a week with operating hours from 4:00 am -11:30 pm.  With this gym, I don’t know for sure if you would need a membership, but I highly doubt you would, because obviously not all travellers in the airport are Canadian.  My point is that you can only sit and wait for so long or buy so many things.  At least with a gym, you can get in a quick workout and perhaps not feel so guilty about indulging during your vacation.  Or if you are on your way home, you can get back into your workout routine sooner than later.

Other amenities or features airports could have are spas or massage rooms. The airport is full of weary, jet lagged travellers with sore backs from sitting too long or sore feet from all that walking/standing.  Who wouldn’t want a massage after a long flight?

What about a museum or a play place for children like they have at McDonald’s? I get pretty antsy sitting around for long periods of time, so I can only imagine how a young child must feel waiting to board the plane.

Do you think airports have way too many shops and should have more services available to beat the boredom? Do you feel you spend a lot of money at the airport?

13 thoughts on “Shop Til’ You Drop at the Airport

  1. I do think they sell way too much “stuff” I’m not really into shopping so I don’t buy anything – most of the time – but I do see people there buying all kinds of little things.

    I wish all airports had some type of entertainment other than shopping and CNN on a TV that you can’t hear. I always bring a book, but it would be nice to do something different for a change.

    • I know. You can only admire your purchases for so long, unless it’s something you will actually use on the plane and/or during your travels. I’m trying to travel light more consistently, so I don’t really need any perfume or alcohol to weigh me down. However, I did buy a few bottles of wine from Santorini, but they were small ones – 375 ml each.

  2. I think they serve a pretty good purpose most of the time, because sometimes people do have a long layover or cancelled flights so it’s nice to know there is a back up. I’m usually not tempted unless I’m in Hawaii (and pick up Hawaiian lotions, etc) or Costa Rica where I buy a ton of coffee. 🙂 Overall I avoid it though because prices are so expensive.

    • We also bought a ton of coffee when we went to Costa Rica. I regret not buying any Turkish coffee when we had a stop over in Istanbul on the way home.

      It’s absolutely crazy how much things cost at the airport!!

    • Seems like a lot of people shop to fill the time though. Even when they’re NOT travelling. I’m one of those shoppers with a purpose. I don’t go travel somewhere specifically just to shop. I travel somewhere to explore the culture and interact with the people.

  3. I have a routine when I fly and don’t really bother with the shopping. Sometimes my wife will take advantage of the manicure shop at out airport and get her nails done before a flight.

    A gym in the airport sounds like a good idea, but I am nervous to fly so I don’t think I could be in a gym and get a good workout when my mind is elsewhere.

    • It would be nice to have a manicure or a pedicure before a flight.

      I actually enjoy flying. I always want the window seat so I could watch the plane take off.

  4. I’ve looked through shops at the airport, and I don’t think I’ve EVER found anything I wanted to buy (other than some snacks or a drink I was looking for anyway). I usually just sit there and fight falling asleep….but if they had a gym, or a movie theater or something like that I think they’d make a ton of money!

    • They really need to have more comfy seating for the general public at the gates. They’re so uncomfortable to lie down on when you’re trying to sleep. A movie theatre sounds like a great idea! Mini putt would be fun too.

  5. Usually when I go to the airport and arrived early or have a delayed flight, I searched for massage center and a coffee shop aside from that, I won’t buy any foods because the prices at the airport are very expensive. I also bring foods and gadgets for my daughter to avoid boredom.

    • I try not to eat at the restaurants or buy food at the airport either. We were quite well fed on the flight back home. I was still full by the time the 2nd meal rolled around.

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