There’s no type of stress like the experience of going through security at a busy airport. While struggling to pull their shoes back on with the white noise of TSA agents desperately trying to get everyone on the same page, many travelers set their sights on enjoying a beer by the gate before hopping on the plane. However, travelers departing from New York and New Jersey airports are in for a rude awakening at the realization that enjoying a standard size beer will run them over $27.00. How’s that for stress inducing?
In July of 2021, Twitter user Cooper Lund tweeted a photo of the beer menu at LaGuardia airport, and the prices were alarming to say the least. A New Belgium Fat Tire draft costs $20.60, and that wasn’t even the most expensive choice on the menu — a Sam Adams Summer Ale Draught would cost travelers a whopping $27.85. For comparison purposes, beer lovers can buy a six pack of the Sam Adams Seasonal Ale in the outside world for just $11.99. For travelers not looking to spend an arm and a leg on a beer, they can enjoy the “bargain” option, which is a $13.00 glass of Michelob Ultra; a twelve pack of which costs around $16.00, usually.
lol at all of this, including the additional 10% “COVID Recovery Fee” that doesn’t go to workers pic.twitter.com/Bq9rHJqek7
— Cooper Lund (@cooperlund) July 7, 2021
Lund also questioned the 10% COVID Recovery Fee that was automatically added onto his tab, arguing that the proceeds were definitely not being seen by the workers at these establishments. Shortly after Lund’s tweet went viral, The Port Authority (which oversees John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty airports) allegedly told food vendors to audit its menu.
The viral tweet inspired other travelers to share their own experiences with extreme pricing at airports. Twitter user Jason Rabinowitz chimed into the conversation by sharing menu prices at Five Guys in Newark International Airport — an order of large fries, which costs $6.69 just over the river in Brooklyn, is priced at $10.90.
A large order of fries at @FiveGuys, which is essentially an entire brown paper bag filled with 1310 calories worth of fries, costs $6.69 in Brooklyn.@OTGexp is charging nearly $11 for a cup. Would love to hear them explain how that price is “comparable to local retail” in NY. https://t.co/wTUXlYzgNb
— Jason Rabinowitz (@AirlineFlyer) July 15, 2021
The tweets garnered the attention of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who promised an investigation into how and why airport prices were able to climb so high. According to NJ.com, the investigation revealed that 25 customers were charged an “indefensible” amount of money by paying between $23.00 and $27.00 for seasonal beers at LaGuardia. All 25 customers have since been contacted, and have received a full refund of their check orders.
The Aviation Department has announced new compliance and enforcement measures to ensure that prices at concessions are kept under control. Port Authority board chairman Kevin O’Toole commented that “nobody should have to fork over such an exorbitant amount for a beer.” The revised policy, which will cover all Port Authority airports, will reinforce 2020 pricing levels and caps any inflated pricing at “local street prices” plus 10 percent. The policy is intended to routinely monitor processes at concessions within airports to ensure they are in line with prices elsewhere in the regional market.
In addition to these policy changes, if aviation travelers at any airport in the New York area find seemingly ludicrous pricing, they are invited to contact the OIG on social media.