One of my personal favorite airport pastimes is to grab a drink while I’m waiting for my flight to depart, no matter the time of day. Sipping a beer at an airport bar helps pass the time while I fight pre-flight excitement and jitters. But there’s no denying that drinks at the airport – and particularly at New York City airports – are exorbitant, and you can’t have more than one without your wallet feeling the strain. All that could be changing soon, though.
Port Authority, the governing body that controls JFK and LaGaurdia airports, as well as Newark airport in New Jersey, recently released a report outlining a new set of policies which intend to reign in the high cost of food and drink at these three airports.
The report states that it “requires concessionaries to offer lower-priced food and beverage options to provide a wider range of value for customer.” What that means in practice is that bars and restaurants can’t charge more than 10 percent higher than what items cost outside of the airport – what Port Authority calls “street prices.”
A complaint on social media launched Port Authority’s investigation into predatory prices at the airport. Someone tweeted a picture of the prices at Biergarten in LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal C that included a seasonal beer priced at $27.85. This seemed to catch the eye of Port Authority officials, who found that, according to the report, the vendor “erroneously added surcharge on top of an inflated base price,” resulting in a mind-boggling price for one beer.
The Port Authority report doesn’t hold back: Price hikes at the airport are called “totally indefensible.” Any customers who were charged $27 for their pre-flight drink were refunded, and instead of shying away from further scrutiny, the report actually encourages other customers who think they are being unfairly charged to complain on social media.
In the meantime, Port Authority says it will continue to monitor what vendors are charging at the airport. So next time you’re at the airport, you might just feel better about ordering that second beer.