BA Onboard Duty Free

Bristish Airways Inflight Duty Free Shopping

BA Inflight Duty Free ShoppingFor all its ups and downs in recent years British Airways (BA) is still one of the best-known airlines in the world.

The UK flag carrier also has a very distinctive in-flight duty-free shopping offer, which the airline calls ‘High Life Shop’. The focus is on British fashion, luxury brands, exclusive collections and average savings of up to 20% on manufacturers’ recommended prices.

The High Life Shop magazine is changed four times a year and can be downloaded as a pdf from www.highlifeshop.com. We think its design and content are a cut above many other duty-free airline brochures, which can often be dull and repetitive. For instance, the April/May 2013 edition is packed with interesting, well-written features. Topics include how to dress like an English gentleman and choosing different fragrances for different occasions.

Another good idea in High Life Shop is the helpful ‘Best Deal Round-Up’ page at the front of the publication. It’s ideal for people who can’t be bothered to wade through the magazine to find the item they want. A select group of recommended products are bunched together into the following categories: ‘Editor’s Favourites’, ‘Best Savings’, ‘Great Promotions & Give-Aways’, ‘Travel Exclusives’ and ‘New Brands’.

Let’s start our review of High Life Shop with its skincare collection, which is undeniably high-end. In fact, it features the high-tech Swiss skincare brand La Prairie. Their £258 Skin Caviar Liquid Lift (50ml) may take years off your face, but at that price it will undoubtedly give your purse some worry lines too! A cheaper wrinkle-battling brand is available in the shape of Origins, whose new award-winning Eye Cream is priced at a far more reasonable £29 for a 15ml pot.

Bee venom is probably not the first substance that springs to mind when it comes to skin care. However, when it is introduced in very low doses it can apparently trick the skin into producing collagen and elastin to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Both ex-Spice Girl Victoria Beckham and the Duchess of Cambridge are fans, and Rodial Bee Venom Super Serum is new onboard BA priced at £135.

The range of female fragrances onboard BA is extensive. Look out for travel exclusive products, which you won’t find anywhere on the High Street. Examples include Jo Malone’s Cologne Collection, which contains six scents to be worn solo or in combination, priced at £61, and the powerfully spicy and floral Unveil from Ajmal (£72).
Some fragrances have staying power and none more so than the fresh and intense men’s scent Kouros, which has been around since 1981. Find it onboard BA in a travel exclusive package, which comprises an eau de toilette and a hair and body wash priced together at £50. And for something a little more refined and urban, check out Tom Ford Noir: a spicy, warm fragrance for men at £48.

Some airlines skip sunglasses completely, but not BA. You’ll find men’s designer shades from brands such as Oakley, Ray-Ban and adidas. Ladies, meanwhile, can choose sunglasses from either Givenchy or Furla. BA also gets credit for including some pretty fashion accessories in its collection. We particularly like the fun foldaway Lips Tote from British fashion designer Lulu Guinness (£29), which as the name suggests, folds down into a neat, lips-shaped pouch. And after those painful high heels have come off for the day, the cute £30 Ballerina Twists pumps will make comfortable travel footwear for slouching around your hotel room.

Inspired by artist Gustav Klimt’s colourful designs, the Nicole Farhi Covent Garden Silk Scarf (£99) would also make a great gift, and is an airline exclusive to boot. There is also an exclusive scarf from Escada at £120, as well as an attractive lilac-spotted cashmere shawl from Morgan & Oates (£80).

Children are well provided for with an excellent range of Lego toys, BA model planes, remote-controlled cars, walkie-talkie watches and plush toy monsters. The electronics pages are brimming with products too. Choose from travel adaptors, electric shavers, SIM cards, digital cameras, travel adaptors and camera pens. It’s also refreshing to see some gadgets aimed at the ladies. Examples include Mini Hair Straighteners (£20), Illuminating Tweezers (£14) and the Flo On The Go illuminated cosmetic mirror (£15).

Note that duty-free cigarettes and liquor won’t be available on BA’s many intra-European Union flights. When available, the cigarette range features popular brands with UK smokers such as Benson & Hedges, Lambert & Butler and Marlboro. The cheapest price currently offered is £40 for a carton of 200 Karelia Slims, which works out at just £2 for a pack of 20, which gives a very decent saving on UK High Street prices.

The duty-free liquor offer onboard BA is a little disappointing relying as it does on tried-and-trusted international bestsellers such as Smirnoff, Rémy Martin and Jack Daniel’s. The pick of the bunch here is undoubtedly the new Johnnie Walker Explorers’ Club Edition: Spice Road: a £26 travel-retail exclusion version of the famous Scotch whisky, rich, smooth and wonderfully well balanced

If we had one other criticism of High Life Shop, it’s that there are precious few British souvenirs or gifts listed onboard what is supposed to be the UK flag carrier. The Charbonnel & Walker Union Jack chocolate assortment box (£15) and the fun, wireless 1960s mini computer mouse (£38) are steps in the right direction, but a few more quality British souvenirs would undoubtedly be a welcome addition.
BA also gets marked down for not offering a pre-order service for High Life Shop, which is strange because the airline does now offer part of its in-flight retail offer more widely on a dedicated website: www.highlifeshop.com. It doesn’t sell spirits, tobacco and fragrances, which are available onboard at duty-free prices, but does have some exclusives, including collections from jewellery brand Tateossian, fashion designer Lulu Guinness and youth-oriented luggage brand Kipling.

Note that online ordering for home delivery from BA’s online retail shop is limited to people living in the UK only (but they do include the Isle of Man, Channel Islands and BFPO addresses).

For overseas delivery you need to contact the BA Customer Services Team.

Pros
Interesting and well-designed duty-free magazine
Good price savings and plenty of exclusives
Excellent range of fashion, accessories and toys

Cons
Not enough British gifts and souvenirs
No pre-order service