Evil, capitalist airports

by Maria on August 30, 2007

Here are the things most people would happily pay for at an international transit airport:
– a shower
– clean underwear (for those of us who habitually forget to pack it)
– daylight
– an exercise facility to help with the jetlag and minimise DVT
– nutritious but not too heavy food
– a nap, lying flat, somewhere quiet.

And here’s what is generally available:
– Gucci
– Chanel
– l’Occitane
– Bodyshop
– Lacoste
– Nike
– a few plastic seats
– McDonalds, dougnuts, and the local variety of fried, sugary dross to add a sugar hangover to your jetlag.

Sometimes there’s a shower, and I’ve even heard of napping capsules – though never in the terminal I’m in. But generally, the big transit airports totally mismatch the actual desires of travellers, and instead lay on miles of the same over-priced globalised tat (Swarovski, anyone?) for the miserable and jetlagged to wander about in.

Is the idea that we’ll buy a Cartier watch because we’re so tired and addled? Or are ‘we’ such wealthy and time-poor businessmen that we’ll buy any shiny expensive thing we see for our neglected wives and mistresses? At Bangkok airport recently, most of the travellers were wearing tracksuits and carrying babies. Chanel, Prada and the rest of them were completely empty. Though at least there are showers and a spa in that airport. But all I wanted to buy was clean knickers and a mobile phone – and the result was 2-nil to the airport. At least I didn’t succumb to those silk and wool scarves they have in every airport in the world, but that only French women wear.

So why the complete mismatch of trapped and exhausted consumers to luxury goods? Surely the airports have woken up to the fact that travelling is mass market. Or are travellers such a captive market that airports can completely ignore what they actually want…?