New York Airports Are No Longer Allowed To Charge $39 For A Beer

Finally.

New York officials have told New York airport vendors they need to ease up on the price gouging. After a customer complained about an airport vendor selling US $27.85 (AU $39) beer, authorities have decided to crack down, telling vendors they can’t charge more than “street prices” (plus 10%).


After a man was charged the unconscionable price of $27.85 (AU $39.29) for a 23-ounce Sam Adams Summer Ale at La Guardia airport (and complained about it) last year, New York officials have finally decided to act. Vendors in airports in the New York region will have to keep their prices to within 10% of street prices (what you would typically pay outside the airport). Even better: they say it’s actually going to be enforced.

According to a press release from the Port Authority (which regulates both New York and New Jersey airports, including LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty), Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said: “All airport customers should rightly expect that policies which limit the pricing of food and beverages at concessions will be followed and enforced.”

“Nobody should have to fork over such an exorbitant amount for a beer.”

Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole

“The Aviation Department’s new compliance and enforcement measures announced today make it crystal clear that all prices at concessions will be routinely monitored to ensure they are aligned with the regional marketplace. And all airport customers and concessionaires should expect tough pro-active enforcement going forward now that these revised standards are in place.”

The Port Authorities’ review found that 25 customers were charged the “totally indefensible” price of between $23 and $27 for a beer at Terminal C at LaGuardia. The Port Authorities said that all these customers have since been refunded.

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New York based operator, OTG, who charged these 25 customers such an excessive amount, blamed the high prices on a “clerical error with a listed price of a seasonal beer.” OTG also says it has taken action to prevent overcharging from happening again, including hiring new executives for the team that is in charge of pricing. 

The humble airport beer. Image Credit: Getty Images

Although we can all agree that US $27 (AU $39.29!) for a beer is taking the piss, there are good reasons why food and beverages cost more in airports. Business operating costs are higher, including rent and commission (and sometimes, staffing, as few chefs aspire to work in an airport), so businesses must charge more for their products and services. Also: you’re a captive audience with few other options.

Food for thought.

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