Korean Air opens duty-free shop (yes, an actual shop) in Airbus A380

By David Flynn, April 6 2011
Korean Air opens duty-free shop (yes, an actual shop) in Airbus A380

Here's a story that could have fitted perfectly into April Fool's Day except that, well, it's true.

Korean Air is outfitting its new Airbus A380s with a duty-free shop.

Heather Cho, from Korean Air's Catering & Inflight Sales Business Division, says the shop will promote "new, existing and exclusive products" from the airline's duty-free range, which will also be complemented by the continuation of the regular cart service.

“We will display the best-selling items across all categories such as liquor, cosmetics, accessories and fragrances,” Cho says. "The whole design process was done five years ago and the planning took place before that. Finally it’s going to happen in reality, and that’s exciting.”

The stall has been designed and manufactured for Korean Air by aircraft interior firm AIM Aviation and will replace 13 seats on the A380.

However, AIM sales director Chris Whetter tells FlightGlobal that while losing 13 seats also means "you're losing a lot of revenue, the Korean mentality is that they buy all the duty free on every flight."

Each of the bottles on display is fitted with a heavy-duty magnet on the bottom to keep it in place during turbulence, although Whetter says that "if there is severe turbulence the shop has to be emptied out."  The alcohol is also stowed on taxi, take-off and landing.

Advertising is also available in the shop, with cosmetics firm Lancome buying the first spot.

FlightGlobal reports that the store will be open for business for the duration of each flight and staffed by full-time sales assistants. First class passengers will get first crack at the store, followed by business class passengers and then those travelling in economy.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

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