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Which Airports Are Best for Duty-Free Shopping?

Which Airports Are Best for Duty-Free Shopping? Published on . Category:

A woman holding colourful shopping bags

So you’re packed and ready for your trip abroad; an exciting prospect no doubt. However, before you start jet-setting off on your holidays, you’ll need to go through the somewhat tedious, yet necessary process of getting through the airport. Although it can be irritating waiting to finally catch your flight, at some of these airports, there is a multitude of ways to alleviate the boredom. These days, airports have grown to become some of the best shopping destinations around the globe, offering a huge range of retail opportunities at a cut-down price.

From shops offering travel essentials to high-end boutiques and luxury brands providing you with some much-needed retail therapy, airport shopping really is in a league of its own. However, not all airport shopping experiences are created equal, with some going above and beyond to offer flyers a bespoke shopping experience. With this in mind, we decided to take a closer look at this sometimes overlooked shopping opportunity and give you the lowdown on the best airport shopping experiences around the world.

Why is Airport Shopping so Great?

A giant duty free sign at the airport
It’s safe to say that, in most cases, brick-and-mortar shop fronts continue to face challenges attracting buyers through their doors. With an increasing number of people looking to the internet for their shopping fix, many shops are closing their doors in favour of an online experience. However, airport shopping centres are bucking this downward trend, with their shopfronts remaining an important part of business and a captive audience with time to spend. Across the globe, airport shopping sales continue to rebound after a difficult couple of years and continue to offer customers new retail experiences.

The other main benefit is the significant savings you can expect to gain from shopping at the airport. As most airports are duty-free, they needn’t worry about the extra cost of duty levy’s on their products. This translates to a cut in cost at the till, so why not make the most of the opportunity!

London Heathrow Airport

A lady walking through Heathrow with shopping bags in both hands
We couldn’t write a list of the best airport shopping experiences around the world without starting with our own; London’s Heathrow Airport. Ranked as number 4 on Skytrax’s ‘World’s Best Airport for Shopping’ for 2023, to any passenger using the facilities it’s pretty obvious why Heathrow is such a great place to loosen the purse strings.

Terminal 5 is the main hub of shopping at Heathrow, with a range of high-end retail stores such as Burberry, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. Because of this, the fashion-forward consumer can find deals on some of the most celebrated clothing brands in the world. The immensely popular Harry Potter shop is also a significant draw for the magically inclined looking for a wizarding deal.

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport

A group of friends eating food at Bangkok Airport
This behemoth of an airport is the largest in the whole of South East Asia which, in turn, makes it one of the best places to conduct some retail therapy in the region. Aside from the usual shops, you would come to expect in an airport, level 4 of Concourse D is where the top-end exclusive brands have decided to set up shop.

Names such as Dior, Hermes, and Swarovski occupy many of the units throughout the concourse. You can also find the premium vodka brand Royal Dragon at the various King Power departure stores situated throughout the airport.

Hong Kong International Airport

A lady looking at shops going through Hong Kong Airport
Claimed as one of the best airports to transit, it’s quite obvious why Hong Kong International Airport is such a wonder whilst you wait for your flight. Spread over two separate shopping malls, Hong Kong has close to 300 retail options for travellers to peruse, with 47 shops found in Terminal 1 alone.

If you do somehow run out of shopping opportunities, however, you can indulge in the huge range of other services on offer. Whether you’re in the mood to catch a breathtaking film at the IMAX theatre or in need of a well-deserved pamper session at Wellness, Hong Kong Airport’s one and only spa, you’ll be forgiven for not wanting to jump on the plane!

John F. Kennedy International Airport

A man buying a suit at JFK Airport
One of the largest airports in the U.S, the huge JFK airport truly is one of the best shopping experiences in the land of the free, and you haven’t even stepped foot outside the building.

Terminal 1 and 4 is where you can find the majority of upscale brands such as Cartier and Bvlgari, however, with a total of eight terminals all occupying a variety of retail and dining opportunities, you’ll be spoilt for choice so get exploring.

Dubai Airport

Two ladies shopping at Dubai Airport
Known for never committing to half measures, Dubai does not disappoint with its gigantic international airport. Acting as a duty-free mall, it can be easy to get lost in this huge shopping complex, especially as it consistently comes near the top of the list of busiest airports in the world.

For those flying via Emirates, you’ll be able to experience the truly ginormous Terminal 3, one of the biggest buildings in the world by floor space. Finished in 2008, the terminal plays host to a stunning array of shops with some of the biggest names in fashion and dining.

However, Dubai airport’s services don’t stop there, offering frequent flyers the chance to relax in the zen garden or get their pump on in the gym in between flights. Also, don’t let Terminals 3’s gargantuan size put you off exploring, as there is a dedicated train line helping you get between your favourite outlets, making travel throughout the airport a cinch. Whatever you need, Dubai will ensure that, no matter how long your connection is, you’ll be well looked after.

Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport

A man looking at a watch at Charles De Gaulle Airport
Of course, how can a country famed for its boutique shopping experience not have great shopping at its airport? As one of the largest airports in Europe, Charles De Gaulle has comprehensive retail opportunities with designer brands to match the shops dotted around the Champs-Élysée.

Although the building itself isn’t the prettiest on our list, don’t let its plain design fool you. Terminal 2, for example, is chock full of some of the most fashionable brands on the market today, from Gucci and Longchamp to Cartier and Rolex. At CDG, you won’t need to lug your new finds across the French capital when everything is waiting for you as soon as you jump off the plane.

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

A couple looking to buy chocolate in Amsterdam airport
Just a few hours up the road from our Parisian friends is the light and airy Amsterdam Schiphol, easily reached on KLM and known as one of the nicest airports in Europe – and for good reason. For many of the shops and restaurants dotted throughout the building, customers can benefit from a lowest-price guarantee, meaning you won’t find a better deal anywhere else in the Netherlands.

For those looking to make their money go further, Schiphol Plaza has plenty on offer, housing more than 75 tax and duty-free stores for you to explore. Alongside Dutch products, you can expect to find a host of international brands which are, on average, 10% cheaper than any other major European city, so get spending!

Doha Hamad International Airport

Muslim girl with shopping bags at Doha Airport
Leaving the best until last, the Hamad International Airport in Doha tops this year’s list of Skytrax’s “World’s Best Airports for Shopping”.  With a dedicated central Duty-Free Plaza providing all your shopping needs at your fingertips, the airport was only opened in 2014 and continues to offer passengers a clean and hassle-free experience in fantastic style and comfort.

Housing many of the high-end brands seen in other airports, from Michael Kors to Tiffany & Co., you won’t be stuck without a healthy dose of retail therapy. The facilities on offer don’t stop there, though, with a range of international cuisine on offer from a large choice of restaurants and eateries. At Hamad International Airport in Doha, your wait times will simply disappear.

Keep an eye out for great deals

The world’s airports aren’t just for flyers to get from A to B, with some of the best ports offering customers some truly amazing shopping deals, all with a nice little discount to help loosen the purse strings. However, there are a variety of other ways to save on travel including tailor-made holiday packages and planning in advance.

To start planning your next trip, contact us today at 020 8417 1366 or enquire online for amazing business class deals.

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