- You can buy almost anything at an airport, but some items are a better deal than others
- Flight attendants told Insider that the best things to buy at airports are snacks and skin-care products from the duty-free shops.
- They said some of the worst airport buys include alcohol, souvenirs, neck pillows, bottled water, and headphones.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Whether you’re travelling domestically or internationally, airports typically have plenty of items available for people to buy – and some purchases are smarter than others.
Insider spoke to flight attendants to get the scoop on what’s worth your money and what you should pass on during your next trip.
Read on to see the best and worst things to buy at an airport, according to flight attendants.
Buying snacks for the plane isn’t a bad idea if you want to avoid in-flight food options
Many airport restaurants are known for having high price levels, said Lorrie Metrejean, a flight attendant for a domestic US airline, but certain snacks you find in an airport are a pretty good value.
Because of this, you may want to consider eating a meal at home and then loading up on snacks when you get to the airport.
Duty-free shops can have makeup products you may not be able to find somewhere else
Lorelei McAree, a flight attendant for a domestic airline, said purchasing cosmetics at duty-free stores is a great idea – especially if you’re looking for a new product to try.
“You won’t have to pay taxes on the items you buy, and there’s often a wider selection than what you might normally [find at home],” she said.
You might find specialty products while exploring the different skin-care options at international airports
“For those obsessed with skin care, buying products in an international airport is an absolute must,” McAree told Insider. As a bonus, the items you buy from duty-free shops won’t be taxed.
McAree added that shopping for skin-care products is especially wise when you’re visiting a new country because different places are known for their own specific specialties.
On the other hand, you may want to refrain from buying alcohol
McAree told Insider that alcohol is usually not a great purchase to make while heading through an airport or hopping on a plane because it’s expensive and it can dehydrate you.
Since a long flight can already dehydrate you plenty, you may be better off with a beverage that will keep you hydrated. Plus waters and other beverages are often much cheaper than an airport beer or glass of wine.
Skip the souvenirs
Airports often have souvenirs that you can grab in a pinch before you fly home, McAree told Insider, but these items are often overpriced and quite generic.
“[Souvenirs are] generally super expensive in airports,” she said. “You can get better deals and more unique items from local places in the city you’re visiting.”
Try to bring your own neck pillows instead of buying them
McAree said she advises travellers to add a neck pillow to their packing lists whenever possible.
She told Insider that neck pillows at airports can be pricey and, unless they’re covered in protective packaging, they have likely been exposed to more germs than one you can bring from home.
Buy headphones on the aeroplane, not in the airport
“If you’re buying any tech items in an airport, chances are you’re paying too much,” McAree said.
For example, McAree said, if you need headphones for your flight, you’re better off buying them once you’re out of the airport and on the plane.
“Chances are, your flight attendants will be selling earbuds during the flight and it will be much cheaper to purchase from the airline than the airport,” she said. “Having flown all of the major domestic airlines, I’ve seen prices anywhere from $US2 to $US5.”
Skip the plastic water bottles and bring your own instead
Getting bottled water in an airport can be expensive, which is one reason McAree tries to avoid buying it at all costs.
Instead, like McAree, bring your own empty bottle and fill it up once you’re through airport security. Fortunately, many airports have designated bottle-filling stations where you can replenish your drink.
“Not only am I saving money this way, but also I’m saving plastic and giving myself a fair shot at staying hydrated during the flight,” McAree added.
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