Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Hello and welcome to Seat 1A!

When you travel, do you ever wonder how you can be that person who is always ahead of the pack, even when things go awry? Hosts Vinod Viswalingam (@VViswalingam) and Geoff Dahl (@geoffdahl) are proud to present The Seat 1A Podcast.

Seat 1A aims to provide savvy travellers with advanced industry based knowledge to enhance the air travel experience and take off from the crowd. By arming you with an understanding of the systems, processes, rules and structures that define modern air travel, Seat 1A strives to give you the upper hand by examining real experiences from abroad.

Whether traveling in ultra-economy or first-class, with or without frequent flyer status, knowing how the operation works will keep you moving in front of the masses, especially when things don’t go as planned. Seat 1A provides tips and tricks on how to make your travel experience as smooth and efficient as possible. Our goal is that you'll be in Seat 1A all the time!

We have over 5 million miles of flying and over 10 years working for numerous airlines, enjoying all classes and cabins, and exploring airports on every continent. We're enthusiastic #avgeeks, with a keen interest in modern aviation trends and aim to share our knowledge in The Seat 1A Podcast. To learn more about who we are, check out Experience 010!

The Seat 1A Podcast also relies on feedback from listeners, offering the chance to take real experiences and analyze them, breaking them down to understand what happened, where things went well or wrong and what can be learned from it. If you have a story, question or experience that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at) or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

In the meantime please find us wherever you download your podcasts, and tell all your friends!

Apple Podcasts




Google Play

Google Podcasts


RSS Feed

Dec 11, 2021

In this experience we look at the world of Duty Free. What exactly is duty free, and what is it not?

As we picture a classic duty free shop, there's a reason why so many of them look so similar – there are a small number of operators handling most of the duty free business. Vinod remembers his childhood and the mystique of the cart rolling down the aisle of a widebody plane.

In many airports, duty free is an experience that comes immediately after clearing security. Some airports save the duty free for arriving passengers. And remember, not all shops after security are duty free – some are just selling at a lower price than the high street.

Where you get your duty free item is dependent on the layout of the airport. If you're in a mixed zone (e.g. domestic/international), you'll get it the gate. If you're in the same zone as other passengers, you'll get it at the shop.

We look at scenarios that Vinod faced as a groundside agent – like what happens if a passenger is denied boarding? Vinod was amazed how many passengers forget their duty free at the gate – and shares a crazy VARIG story. What happens if flights get cancelled? And just what did Air France crews do to cause a change in the duty free in Cancun, Mexico?

We look at the reason for those red sealed bags at the duty free. Vinod shares the absolute insane day he had when the liquids restrictions came into effect. Geoff shares his experience with a bottle of duty free at Buffalo Airport, while Vinod and Geoff share stories of people who were not able to get their duty free through security upon arriving. You need to know where you're connecting to and from.

We leave the airport for a few moments and talk about the crazy amount of duty free bought on European ferries.

Duty free offers many products or sizes that aren't available anywhere else – but this has evolved with pre-purchase.

What are the cheapest duty free locations that Vinod has encountered?

On board a flight, how does duty free work? Some airlines have incentives for duty free sales – some by crew and some by individual. There was a time when cash was paid for duty free – but which currency? Meanwhile, crews have to watch for people consuming their own alcohol on planes. Vinod shares a vintage memory of a flight to Paris – with people hanging from the overhead bins.

The experience in the shop is becoming more multisensory. And if you're on the plane, remember to have your payment method ready for when the cart passes by.

News Items:

  • article "The Largest Boeing 777X Customers Revealed."
  • article "Exciting: Two Airlines Announce The A380 Return This Week."
  • article "Nature Starts To Reclaim Mexico City’s Canceled New Airport."


If you have a story about duty free shops, duty free service in the air, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at) or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at