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$35 airport shame: Expert reveals why Aussies charged 'ridiculous' prices

Food has gotten expensive in Australia, but a financial expert has revealed why airports seem to be able to get away with charging so much.

A traveller's expensive meal at an Australian airport has been described as an example of "greed, plain and simple" by a financial expert who has revealed why retailers are getting away with ripping travellers off when we fly.

The woman said she was charged $35 at Perth Airport for two relatively modest purchases - $11 for a small coffee and bottle of water plus $24 for two rice paper rolls and a packet of chips.

An assessment of costings in the local area found a comparable purchase to be much cheaper at $22.85, with consumer and personal finance expert Sue Hayward telling Yahoo Finance airports gave retailers an opportunity to trap travellers into paying exorbitant prices.

Airport meal photo shows bottle of water  coffee, chips and Vietnamese rolls on the left and a woman looking out the window at a plane on the right.
Airport meals can be costly for travellers, with a traveller in Australia paying $35 for the items on the left. (Source: Reddit/Getty).

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Why are airport food prices so expensive?

“Many travellers end up with time to spare at the airport but going for a meal can be a fast way to dent your bank balance,” Hayward told Yahoo.

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“Airport food is often massively overpriced and even airport outlets of the big popular chains usually bump up their prices.

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"It’s greed, plain and simple, as they know once within the airport you’re a captive audience, and likely to face a long wait till any free food arrives once you’re on board.”

She said what makes it worse is that there’s no way to save using discounts or vouchers once at the airport as many outlets refuse them and in some cases, you're also prohibited from taking your own food past airport security.

ACCC rules don't apply at airports

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) do not regulate Australian airports.

The consumer watchdog does track revenue from retail suppliers and provides data to the Treasurer each year that indicates which airport may be taking advantage of the lack of competition for travellers.

If the woman had bought her meal outside the airport she would've paid $5.45 for the small coffee ($3.15) and Mount Franklin bottle of water ($2.30), and about $16.05 for the prawn rice paper rolls ($12.90) and packet of Red Rock Deli Sweet Chilli Potato Chips ($3.15).

Perth, AUSTRALIA - September 3, 2017: Perth airport of western Australia
Consumer experts say that once travellers are inside the airport, they don't have much choice but to buy the high-priced items. Source: Getty Images (bee32 via Getty Images)

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“If you’re nostalgically thinking about cheap Australia, think again,” she said of her airport purchase.

She often travels Australia for work and said during her many trips to domestic airports she commonly searches for a coffee before her flight.

The woman, who shared a photo in an online group for UK expats, claimed the prices of simple items had been climbing up all over the country and that while people often complain about prices increasing overseas, Australia wasn’t too far behind.

$10 banana bread sparks rage at Melbourne airport

Meanwhile, another traveller shared their outrage over prices at Melbourne airport.

“$10 for a single slice of banana bread at Melbourne airport,” they said.

One person pointed out that at that price, the cafe display window had about $500 worth of banana bread inside it.

Banana bread for $10 a piece (left) and list of departures and arrivals (right).
Prices are Melbourne airport (left) are just as high as Perth Airport. Source: Reddit/Getty, file photo

Dozens agreed that airport prices are “ridiculous”.

“So many people on here are happy to go with the flow of these prices until they can’t afford it… I wouldn’t buy it at $10. I feel it should be $5 to $6, but not $10. Everything is so expensive it’s really making a living hard,” one person wrote.

Despite the outrage by most, others said they have simply come to expect to pay the price.

“You’re at an airport, you should be relieved it’s only $10,” one person claimed.

“It gets me when people complain about airport prices. Take snacks with you, get coffee from outside the airport or take water. If we stopped using these prices would come down,” offered another.

“Do people without lounge access actually buy food at airports? I’ve been bringing my own supply for many many years now,” said a third.