Nearly free of duty at last

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.


I’m well settled in to The Moodie Report’s temporary Sanya bureau to cover the annual China Travel Retail conference but it was a close run thing…

I’ve long joked that the epitaph on my gravestone should read ‘Free of duty at last’ and that was very nearly the case after my Hong Kong Airlines flight to Sanya on Hainan Island landed earlier this week.

Never have I seen so much duty free in the overhead compartments. Never have I seen so many inflight sales recorded on a single journey.

The Chinese man in front of me, who alighted the plan laden down with liquor, tobacco.confectionery and beauty products, bought every  travel adaptor the airline had in stock (he could have powered half of China with his bounty), more jewellery than you would find in Buckingham Palace and half a Sephora shop’s stock of beauty products for his wife.

I don’t know if the airline made the usual post-landing “Be careful when you open the overhead compartments as items may have moved during the flight and could fall out” announcement. But if they did, my fellow passenger was not listening.

Duly he opened the compartment. What followed was like a duty free rainstorm. Down came the packs of Mild 7; down came the Chanel beauty items; and down came the Remy Martin VSOP. Down on me, that is, with the exception of the boxed bottle of Remy which bounced off my shoulder onto the head of a poor hapless old lady sat behind me. For a moment VSOP seemed to signify ‘visibly stunned old pensioner’ but she took the blow with remarkable calm.

“Sorry, very sorry,” the passenger said to her, seemingly oblivious to the sizable Mild 7-driven impression in my forehead (admittedly a good-sized target).

Never mind, what’s a scrape or two with fine duty free products compared with seeing our industry in such flourishing shape?  But if I ever do leave the world in this fashion, then I hope I’m upgraded at least to an XO.

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