The Dumb Duty-Free Rule Australian Airports Need To Get Rid Of

Adding insult to injury...

The Dumb Duty-Free Rule Australian Airports Need To Get Rid Of

If your flight is cancelled, no matter what airport you’re at, you have to return any duty-free purchases you’ve made…

One of the many joys of travelling internationally is splurging at duty-free stores. Purchasing a bunch of stuff for a much cheaper price, all because you didn’t have to pay any tax, gives a rush like no other.

But did you know that if your flights are cancelled you have to return all your sweet, sweet duty-free goods? Well, as reported by Traveller, multiple jet-setters have just learnt this lesson the hard way at New Zealand’s Auckland Airport.

One passenger, named Molly, told Traveller that she’d made it through airport security and had bought to her heart’s content at the duty-free shops. But then, forty minutes before her Jetstar flight was supposed to take her to Sydney, Australia, she noticed a timetable sign.

And that timetable informed her that her flight had been cancelled. Molly sought out the gate she was supposed to take off from and 180 other passengers were there waiting for Jetstar staff to inform them all what to do.

If your flight’s cancelled, you have to return your duty-free purchases. Image Credit: Sky News

At this stage, Jetstar staff began walking the passengers back through the airport and it was made clear no one would be flying that day – Molly claimed that many had to rebook their flights for thousands of dollars.

Of course, there’s nothing worse than having a flight cancelled at the last minute; being stranded seriously sucks.

But Molly said that what really added insult to injury is that right before she and her fellow passengers made it to security and the airport’s exit, the Jetstar staff members made everyone who had duty-free purchases, go back to the stores and return them.

And passengers weren’t allowed to leave the airport until they had done so. According to Traveller, “a spokesperson for Jetstar said that it was a government requirement that duty-free goods be returned, but passengers could repurchase their goods prior to their rescheduled flight”.

But which government? New Zealand’s or Australia’s? Or is this some global thing that all airports enforce? Well, after a bit of research, it turns out the UK enforces the same rule. A spokesperson for Bristol Airport told ChronicleLive:

One of the duty-free stores at Auckland Airport. Image Credit: ARI

“Returning duty-free is normal procedure for a cancelled flight. Customers can purchase duty-free, and receive the duty-free discounted prices, [but] this allowance is only eligible for customers who are departing from the UK.”

“When flights are cancelled, the customer is not leaving the UK, so it is a customs requirement that all duty-free purchases are returned, and a full refund provided. This is an HM Customs requirement.”

Further research suggests that most, if not all, governments and customs departments around the world enforce this requirement. And we understand it. But we can also understand what an inconvenience it would be for travellers.

Perhaps, to prevent travellers from ever facing this hassle, airlines should strive to inform their passengers when a flight’s been cancelled as soon as possible. That way, they won’t even bother going to the airport and hitting up the duty-free stores until their flights have been rebooked and/or rescheduled.

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