Delta dropped duty free last summer. It was characterized in media as a dispute over contract details with their outsource provider, the same company I believe which American worked with (DFASS Group).
Duty free is said to be a $3 billion industry, although that strikes me as surprisingly high. Duty free purchases of high tax items like alcohol and cigarettes are popular as are jewelry and cosmetics, especially in Asia and the Middle East as well as Scandinavia flights.
You’ll just have to buy your duty free here instead.
US airlines don’t have the same volume of duty free purchases as Asian and Middle Eastern carriers. I’ve read that Korean has a standalone duty free display for shopping throughout the flight on the A380 (I’ve only flown Korean’s 777s and 747s). And that JAL, whom I’ll be flying soon in their new first class, offers ordering via the inflight entertainment system. It’s always struck me on my Cathay Pacific flight that they were doing a meaningful business.
My first reactions to the news about American:
- I’ll be grateful to have fewer flight attendant announcements on overnight flights.
- I feel bad for those flight attendants that were earning a meaningful commission on sales.
- There’s certainly going to be a tradeoff of inflight shopping purchases from the airline and from other providers via inflight internet. That’s one of the factors that troubled the SkyMall business.
- The timing seems strange to me, if anything I’d have expected this to happen when fuel prices are high (since stocking duty free items entails weight and thus additional fuel burn). Although perhaps it ties with the end of a long-term contract with their provider.