I’d like to think that I rarely get sucked into a marketing gimmick, however a couple of days ago I found myself using the British Airways duty free online shopping to pre-purchase a bottle of Jo Malone perfume on behalf of a friend.
It was at this point that I thought I’d do some research to see whether BA duty free prices made the BA High Life shop a credible option for duty free shopping or whether you are better off shopping elsewhere.
The British Airways High Life Shop (found here) was launched back in 2005 and offers the ability for long-haul passengers to pre-order duty free shopping online and have it delivered to your seat. You’ll also earn Avios points on all purchases at a rate of 2 Avios for every £1 spent, which could be combined with the likes of a British Airways Premium Plus card (reviewed here) to earn a further 1.5 Avios per £1.
Why Pre-Order BA Duty Free Online?
I was actually quite surprised to see the extent of the products on offer at the British Airways High Life Shop. With such an extensive range, BA can’t simply manually load all of the duty free items on to each flight on the off chance someone may want to make a purchase.
In fact the fuel cost of carrying all of these BA duty free items would be likely to significantly eat into BA’s High Life shop profits, making it somewhat pointless. Fun fact time. Airbus suggest that every 100kg of excess weight requires an additional 5,000 kg of fuel per year per aircraft. I suspect that if BA were to load one of every item listed on the British Airways duty free High Life shop onto an aircraft it would weigh far in excess of 100kg, however let’s just assume it did weigh 100kg for arguments sake. British Airways currently have 134 long-haul aircraft, which would result in a whopping 670,000 kg or roughly 848,000 litres of additional fuel being burnt each year!
As such by offering the ability to pre-order goods online, the selection of items available with the British Airways duty free on-board shopping is extensively improved.
There’s a further reason you may want to use the BA High Life shop to pre-purchase goods and have them delivered to your seat. If you sign up to the British Airways High Life shop newsletter, you’ll also receive a further 10% off your first purchase.
The one possible catch is that you can only pre-order your BA duty free a minimum of 3 days before departure. This is to allow British Airways enough time to ensure that the goods are delivered to the correct aircraft on time.
Do you earn Avios when buying British Airways Duty Free On Board?
As I mentioned earlier, when using the online BA High Life Shop you’ll earn a rate of 2 Avios for every £1 spent. This is also the case if you decide to purchase items from the High Life magazine – just remember to show your BA Executive Club card before the transaction takes places as there’s no way to be credited for these points at a later date…
How do the prices of British Airways Duty Free Compare?
So now to the interesting bit. Are you better off shopping online through the individual websites of the brands themselves, shopping at the Duty Free in the airport terminal or perhaps ordering items through the BA High Life Shop? Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:
|Item||Retailer Price||Airport Duty Free||BA Duty Free|
|Jo Malone London Blackberry & Bay Cologne 100ml||£94 (Jo Malone)||£75.20 (World Duty Free)||£74 – the item I purchased!|
|Dunhill Icon Edp 100ml||£59.25 (Amazon)||£67.10 (World Duty Free)||£68|
|Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin 1L||£20 (Sainsbury’s)||£20.79 (World Duty Free)||£20|
|Ray-Ban Erika Polarised Sunglasses||£145 (Ray-Ban)||£113.30 (World Duty Free)||£125|
As can be seen from the above, there’s strangely no particular retailer which appears to be an outright winner. Besides the last example of Ray-Ban sunglasses, both the British Airways duty free High Life shop and airport duty free seem to be very similar. By booking BA duty Free up ahead you’ll be both guaranteed to receive the item you’re after and also to avoid those painful duty free queues.
Something you should also bear in mind is the ability to earn either cashback or reward points with each of the above. As I recently wrote here, it’s now possible to earn cash back with certain Amazon purchases using topcashback. You’ll earn anywhere from 1-14% so it’s worth bearing in mind when shopping with Amazon.
Similarly, if you’re flying from Heathrow, you can earn Heathrow Reward points on your purchases at a rate of 1 to 1. These can then be transferred to Avios effectively earning you 1 Avios for every £1 spent. This clearly isn’t as good as the 2 Avios for every £1 offered by the BA High Life shop.
Let’s Wrap This Up
When I recently used the British Airways duty free on-board shopping, I was pleasantly surprised with the selection of products and the prices offered – I always thought BA would be more expensive than the terminal duty free shopping options! You’ll also earn 2 Avios for every £1 spent, which I’d recommend combining with the BA Premium Plus credit card to earn a further 1.5 Avios for every £1 spent.
The British Airways High Life shop can be found here and don’t forget you can receive 10% off your next order if you sign up to the BA High Life shop newsletter!