This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 636308.

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Saba Rakhshandehroo is working with KLM and Schiphol Airport as part of her Master’s research in Strategic Product Design with TU Delft. Her project is focussing on tax-free article baggage and how to improve its management for passengers, airlines and airports. The project is being carried out in the context of PASSME’s main objectives- to reduce unwanted airport time and to improve the passenger experience.

fashion woman cute airportThere are many issues related to tax-free articles for all airport stakeholders. Passengers must carry additional luggage through the airport, and research shows that a large part of the purchases are meant to be used at home; few are used at the travel destination and a minority of purchases are used instantly. The extra luggage poses problems for airlines also. The tax-free purchases result in extra handling time for airline staff, in addition to using extra fuel.


To understand the complex issues and relationships around tax-free baggage, Saba interviewed 10 passengers in addition to an observational study at the airport and an online questionnaire. She concluded that more than half of the passengers do not prepare for their tax-free shopping before arriving at the airport. On top of this, it seems that their emotions towards tax-free articles become less positive as the passenger leaves the airport shopping area, as they carry extra luggage towards the airplane. The least positive emotions occur in the aircraft, where passengers do enjoy taking a look in the shopping magazine, but do not trust the inflight offering and do not intend to make any purchases.

To enhance her research, Saba also interviewed Schiphol and KLM retail managers about their attitudes towards tax-free products and how this type of baggage is managed for passengers. In general, retail managers were satisfied with the presence of products on board aircrafts, which gives passengers an opportunity to purchase items they didn’t have time to buy in the airport.

To establish the broader airport retail environment, Saba investigated how duty-free baggage is managed by airports and airlines outside of Schiphol. From this research, Saba could identify key innovations and learnings which could be applied to the Dutch airport. She is now in the idea generation phase of her research, collating her key learnings from all of the interviews, questionnaires and external research. Her next step will be to organise a brainstorm session with Schiphol airport and KLM staff. The key objective of the session will be to find a duty-free baggage solution which benefits not just passengers, but also airlines and airports.

Whether you are a frequent flyer, an airport retailer or a baggage handler, this research may shape the way you manage duty-free luggage. When Saba finishes this piece of research, we will keep you updated on its outcomes as the project progresses.

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