World Duty Free doesn’t want to use my ‘you do need your boarding pass’ poster

In October I blogged that you DO need to show your boarding pass at duty free. Over the summer I was involved in a campaign to tell people not to show their boarding passes in airport shops, as there’s no requirement to do so – and shops save money if you do, that they don’t (but should) pass on to us. Yet the rules are different in World Duty Free shops.

Many staff who work in World Duty Free shops have told me they’d had abuse from customers when they asked for boarding passes – some of whom (mis)quoted me when refusing. So I wanted to help and on my Twitter feed said I’d happily work with it to design a poster with my pic on to explain the situation (World Duty Free already has an in-store poster, but people aren’t believing it).

World Duty Free duly got in touch – and I sent them my proposed rough first draft wording for the poster which’d have my pic…

Why you DO need to show your boarding pass in duty free

World Duty Free is legally obliged to ask you for your boarding pass if you buy something. Yet there is widespread confusion over this.

In summer 2015, on TV and in the papers, I was vocally involved in suggesting people refuse to show boarding passes in airport shops like WH Smith or Boots. They have no legal requirement to see your pass, and only do it so they can claim VAT back if you travel outside the EU. My point was this benefit should be passed on, and if it isn’t, why comply?

Yet World Duty Free is different. Here the Government does require it to have a record of your boarding pass in order to sell goods.

Sadly some people have given abuse to World Duty Free staff over this. So this notice is to help get this message out. Off course this doesn’t mean I’m suggesting you do or don’t buy from here – it’s just a note to inform you of the rules. For a more detailed explanation go to

All the best,

Martin Lewis
Founder and editor,

However World Duty Free has thanked me but decided not to use it, saying:

We appreciate you’re seeking to make the point that the ‘rules’ for us differ to those for other retailers such as WH Smith and Boots. However, the proposed text incorporated some statements that would get us into significant difficulties with other airport retailers and airport partners.

"The business has therefore decided that as quite a bit of time has elapsed since the issue first broke, we will hold off putting any further signage into store for now and continue to monitor the situation in terms of customer complaints/reaction in store.

It would prefer a poster that just says "you do need to show your boarding pass in World Duty Free." Of course I understand that – though while I’d accept some changes – for me it is imperative that World Duty Free is different to other stores, and the rules in both – otherwise we risk confusing people again.

So I think while we both tried, we’re at the end of the road with this.