My home airport is Salt Lake City International. The airport is currently in phase 2, where 22 gates in Concourse A will open by October 31, 2023. Phase 3 will include the much-anticipated new tunnel connecting the terminal with Concourse B, which is so far away that some people are rollerblading there, as well as 8 new gates in Concourse B. Phase 4 will add 16 gates to Concourse B.
Amidst all the attention with the construction is an unknown policy from Salt Lake City International Airport that states bar vendors cannot charge more at the airport than at their locations outside the airport.
The idea came from Portland International Airport in Oregon, where the current airport Executive Director Bill Wyatt worked.
This means that any item you purchase inside the airport is price-guaranteed not to be higher than at a normal location. If a store wishes to raise prices at the airport, they must provide proof of the same price increase at the location outside the airport. Currently, the vendors are operating on an honor system, which is different from Portland, where there is a dedicated team price-checking to ensure compliance.
The Salt Lake Tribune did their own independent audit of prices inside and outside the airport and found that vendors are complying for the most part.
Smashburger, Shake Shack, White Horse, Maverick, Bruges Belgian Bistro, Land Speed Depot, The Salt Lake Tribune store, Wasatch, Cafe Rio, Gourmandise, Beans and Brews, Uinta, and Tech on the Go were all found to have exact prices both inside and outside the airport.
Panda Express was $.10 cheaper at the airport.
Jamba Juice was $.40 more expensive at the airport.
The one vendor who had significant price discrepancies was Market Street Grill, a local restaurant around since 1980 with three Utah locations. A Bud Light draft cost $6.75 at the airport while $4.25 at their store. Fish and chips were $1 higher at the airport. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that no representative from Market Street Grill or Jamba contacted them to explain the price difference despite multiple requests.
Overall, it appears that the vendors are compliant, with only two not complying. Personally, I would rather see a random audit as a matter of policy rather than leaving it up to the vendors.
Next time you go to Salt Lake City International Airport, you can know that the vast majority of the shops are not price gouging you. Make sure to grab a Gatorade if you’re hiking to Concourse A. You’re going to need it.