Dublin Airport Has Responded to the Controversy About Boarding Cards and VAT 5 years ago

Dublin Airport Has Responded to the Controversy About Boarding Cards and VAT

The Internet has been alight this week with claims around the use of passengers' boarding cards in airport retail outlets. 

The story, broken by The Telegraph last Saturday, alleges that the reason passengers' boarding passes are requested not for any security reasons, but so that the outlets can take advantage of VAT savings - without passing said saving on to the consumer.

Outlets in airports are not required to pay VAT charges on any sales if the passenger is travelling outside of the EU. In essence, this means that the retailer can often make savings of more than 20 per cent, often without passing on any of these savings.


In a follow-up shared on Tuesday, the British newspaper stated that many travellers have since refused to show their boarding card at points of sale in various UK airports, including at Heathrow.

Today, Ireland's largest airport addressed the controversy.

Interior of the Dublin Airport.

In a statement posted to the Dublin Airport website, the DAA said:

Duty free shopping within the European Union ended in 1999 and last year 81% of passengers using Dublin Airport travelled to duty paid destinations.

Within shops operated by daa's ARI subsidiary, we offer a single price to all customers across many product categories, whether they are travelling to a duty paid or to a duty free destination. In this way, we pass on VAT savings for duty free passengers to all of our customers.

We guarantee that perfumes, aftershaves and other fragrances are 20% cheaper than downtown prices and we are also 15% cheaper than downtown prices for skincare and make up products. These savings apply to all passengers, regardless of whether or not they are flying to a duty free destination.

There are two separate prices for most of our alcohol products - the duty paid price and the duty free price, which is significantly cheaper. A one litre bottle of Jameson whiskey for example is currently priced at €21 duty free and €42 duty paid, while a one litre bottle of Kilbeggan whiskey is priced at €38 duty paid and €20 duty free.

Separately, we also have a range of premium liquor brands, including Hendricks Gin, Grey Goose vodka and Coole Swan liqueur, which have a single price for all destinations, whether they are duty free or duty paid. This offers significant discounts on downtown prices to all passengers, whether or not they are travelling to a duty free destination.

Boarding cards are scanned by ARI for a number of reasons. These include checking whether a passenger is travelling to a duty free or duty paid destination and understanding passenger spending patterns. In order for a passenger to buy duty free alcohol or tobacco, it is a requirement that the passenger in question can prove that they are travelling to a duty free destination. 

We use this spending patter information in conjunction with other market research to improve the retail offer in our stores, and to help plan staffing levels. This information also allows daa to assess the commercial potential of a new route or service, as we may have information on historic passenger spends for the destination and/or the airline in question.

The only information that is tracked is the item purchased, the airline, and the destination in question. We do not record any personal information in relation to passengers.

It is policy in our stores to ask that passengers present their boarding car when making a purchase, however if any passenger buying a non duty free product and does not wish to provide this information, we will still make the sale.

daa’s income from its retail activities at Dublin Airport subsidises the airport charges at the airport.