If buying makeup kits and getting a massage prior to boarding a flight is your idea of luxury spending at an international airport hub, hold your trousers because you might find the following list of airport amenities unbelievable.
First, the data.
With increased security to enter airports, many travelers are arriving much earlier for flights and are looking for ways to pass the time. And the airports have responded. Operators and retailers across the world are revamping terminals at a time when more people are staying longer in the lounges. Airports are beginning to cater to these travelers by providing them with an airport experience they’ll never forget. Luxury brands are capitalizing on this opportunity, particularly in international airports such as London Heathrow and Singapore’s Changi Airport, which are known to draw a particularly affluent and savvy crowd. DFS staff recounted that one traveler recently bought a bottle of Glenfiddich 50-year-old single malt whiskey priced at 43,910 Singapore dollars ($31,611) on a whim after passing the store. And that paled in comparison to the most expensive bottle ever sold at Changi,-repeatedly ranked the best in the world*- for S$250,000 ($180,000).
Hong Kong-based DFS Group, which is majority owned by LVMH, has outlets at 17 major international airports, mostly in Asia, but has also staked flags in New York and San Francisco. The global travel retail market is estimated to grow to $85 billion by 2020, according to the Fung Business Intelligence Center, and Asia-Pacific is the largest single sector of the market, accounting for 39 percent, followed by Europe at 32 percent.
Interestingly, this forecast growth is in contrast to the fall in retail mall traffic, particularly in the U.S., which has slumped as consumer spending lags and online shopping grows in popularity. Could it be that the future of brick and mortar stores are in the duty-free areas of transportation hubs?
*By the influential Skytrax annual survey
Top 10 airport malls
Singapore Changi International Airport. Hands down this airport it’s the best of all in the world: It has a free movie theater, a pool on the rooftop, a waterfall, a butterfly garden and the stores’ display is spectacularly design. If the brand you are thinking of is truly luxurious, you will be able to find it at Changi.
Hong Kong International Airport. SkyMart and SkyPlaza are the two shopping areas where you can find all kind of stores inside this airport. Terminal 1 SkyPlaza is the home of luxury brand names such as Chanel, Prada, and Versace, while SkyPlaza goes for a variety of fashion and electronic options.
London Heathrow. The busiest airport in Europe has a vast array of options for you to shop, including a Harry Potter thematic store. But if you crave for luxury brands, you can find Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel among others. All of these stores are at terminal 5. Pro tip: Check out in the makeup corners if they have the option of a facial treatment with Esteé Lauder products.
Vancouver International Airport. Three words about this airport: Designer outlet mall. Although the actual mall is close to the airport and not inside the airport, everything is set up for travelers to go browse highly discounted brand-name clothes and goods and be back in time for their flight. Plus, the airport terminals also houses more than 170 stores with duty-free offers.
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport. The luxury gang waits for you at level 4 in Concourse D, where the most exclusive top-end brands from around the world have set up shop, including Burberry, Bvlgari, Cartier, Dior, Hugo Boss and Swarovski.
Dubai International Airport. This airports’ terminal 3 is the biggest terminal in the world. Luxury jewelry, clothing, electronic and such brands have a permanent residence in this huge duty-free mall, including two Apple stores, a Montblanc, Cartier, and Dior boutiques, among others.
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. For the best deals, Schiphol Plaza shopping center, located just beyond passport control, houses more than 75 tax- and duty-free stores, selling everything from perfume and clothing to toys and electronics. Many items even come with a lowest price guarantee, meaning that you won’t find them cheaper anywhere else in the Netherlands
Paris Charles De Gaulle. One of my favorites for cute souvenirs, being one of the largest airports in Europe, Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport may not be the most attractive, but it does house a sea of shops. And this being Paris, the fashion capital of the world, exclusive brand names and designer boutiques that are usually seen along the Champs-Élysée are found throughout the airport’s three terminals. Pro tip: Check out in the makeup corners if they have the option of a facial treatment with Esteé Lauder products.
Seoul Incheon. Any layover is better if you can catch a movie in one of the two theaters available in this airport, or play golf (for real). If it has the first LV airport boutique too, you know you wouldn’t like to leave South Korea soon.
John F. Kennedy International Airport. My least favorite airport of the list, maybe because it is huge and a lot of great stores and restaurants are in one of the eight different terminals. If you are in for fine dining, hope your flight is leaving from Terminal 4, famous for its wonderful upscale restaurants. If you are into shopping, the majority of luxury names are housed in Terminal 1. Nevertheless, you can find great shopping options in the other terminals too.
Every time I get to one of these major airports find fewer reasons to spend my precious traveling time going on shopping for things I now know can be found at the airport malls. I just bring the carry-on ready to be filled with goodies.
** With information from