Travellers Spend £350 While Waiting in Airport Departure Terminals Annually

A staggering 93% of UK travellers say they’ve succumbed to an unplanned impulse purchase in an airport departures terminal while awaiting a flight

British frequent fliers could be paying out up to £350 a year in departure terminals, according to new research from Collinson, owner and operator of the world’s original travel and airport experience programme, Priority Pass and digital travel experiences programme LoungeKey

Travel money ‘takes flight’ in departure terminal  

The study uncovered that 97% of Brits do spend money at the airport before travelling, averaging around £50 expenditure per departure terminal visit.  

In the case of frequent fliers, who take between 6 to 7 flights per year, according to UK Government Department for Transport statistics, the findings show they could be spending £300 to £350 while in pre-flight departure terminals, over the course of one year.  

 Airport spending peaks when food and drink are involved, with over half (56%) of respondents saying that is where they spend the most money, followed closely by those taking advantage of duty-free (38%), splashing out on new aftershaves or perfumes. Then miscellaneous items such as books and magazines (36%), alcohol (31%) and personal accessories such as sunglasses (20%) rank next popular for Brits departure terminal spending. 

 When asked about the items purchased, 21% of Brits said their reasons for the airport purchases were to ‘alleviate boredom’ and 18% to ‘alleviate stress’.  

Table: Where Brits spend money in the departure terminal  

Item purchased in the departure terminal 

Percentage of Brits buying each year 

Food, drinks items (including meal and snacks) 


Aftershave / Perfumes 


Books/Magazines or newspaper 




Accessories (such as hat or sunglasses) 








Clothing or shoes 


Toiletries (e.g. shampoo or conditioner) 








Electronics/tech or phone chargers or headphones 


Jewellery / watches 



Smarter airport travelling  

For savvy travellers arriving early and whizzing through check-in and security, the airport offers experience-enriching amenities in the UK – and located in select global locations, options range from gaming to swimming pools and spas.  

Though, most Brits report being unaware of these travel-transforming experiences on offer – with only 28% knowing you can often shower in a lounge, 22% aware that booking a lounge can unlock airport store discounts, and just over 1 in 10 (13%) in the know that spa treatments are on offer.  

For those who do use the airport benefits, aside from the free food and drink refreshments, 5% use the massage services, 7% the airport personal shopping experience, 7% take a shower and 11% use it for sleeping. Those aged 25-34 are the most switched on when it comes to making use of airport benefits, with 63% of them claiming to have used a lounge before. 

Chris Ross, EMEA President at Collinson says “With Priority Pass and LoungeKey, we want to open up a world of travel experiences that enrich the overall journey. From airport lounge access, which offers travellers a quiet, connected space to relax or work in, with pre-flight bites, drinks and other added perks that help you refresh and revive, to in-airport experiences such as dining, gaming, or relaxation areas, making it the ideal way to elevate your travel experience. 

“We are always looking for new innovative ways to be the perfect travel companion, including providing members the ability to book car rentals and airport transfers on arrival, as well as gain access to other wellbeing experiences, such as fitness app memberships. Our mission is to deliver premium airport experiences that allow travellers to love the whole journey”. 

Collinson’s tips for planning a better airport experience: 

1.      Dodge the crowds: for those keen on a quieter terminal, it’s worth knowing the best time to travel. The research shows that 65% of Brits prefer to catch a morning flight, whereas 21% say the afternoon is their preference. Take advantage of the evening if you prefer quieter times, as only 5% prefer this time for travel.

2.      Know your chances: if you like to play your boarding time close to the line, expecting a delay, know that 84% of flights from major UK airports left on time or a maximum of 15 minutes late in 2021. It’s probably best to arrive early, just in case!  

3.      Get physically ready for a flight: most people aren’t aware that many airports have gyms, massage areas and some even pools. If you have a long-haul flight coming up, it can be worth arriving early, or making use of these during a long stopover so you feel physically better on arrival.   

4.      Redesign your wardrobe: literally! With duty-free and a wide range of apparel stores at major airports, you certainly will have a lot of choice. You can even book a personal shopper, who will accompany you across stores and advise you on what to buy while awaiting your flight.  

5.      Invest in lounge membership? if you are planning regular airport travel, lounge membership is a must. Through this, the overall travel experience is enhanced, with access to a global network of airport lounges, as well as superior dining and spa experiences, that help elevate every journey into something special. With benefits covering the airport journey as well, you could spend a lot smarter, as well as enhance the overall experience.  

6.      Escape travel anxiety: if you’re a nervous flier, or you just want to start your journey in style, there are premium well-being choices at the airport to relax, including oxygen aromatherapy, massages, manicures, facials, and sleep pods for those wishing to get some rest before travel.  

7.      Bring your children: many of the airport lounges are now open to children – with some even allowing children to enter for free. Check out the airport you are visiting to see if your kids can benefit. 

8.      Smoother connections: unsure how to make your connection at the other end?  Priority Pass and LoungeKey gives you the ability to prebook private transfers at 1,100 airports worldwide and pre-book car rentals across 50,000 locations.  

9.      Eat smart: why wait in the queue at the busy departure terminal restaurants? preorder your takeaway at airports worldwide before you jet off with a Priority Pass membership. You can also gain access to discounts at many of the airport restaurants.  

A Priority Pass membership starts at £69 per year and can be used at over 1400 airport lounges worldwide.