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San Diego Airport Lands Duty Free Shop

San Diego Airport's New Duty Free Shop
Erik Anderson
San Diego Airport's New Duty Free Shop

Canadian Glen Potter hands over his boarding pass and credit card. He's buying two bottles of expensive spirits at the San Diego airport's new duty free store.

"Because you save, maybe save a bit of money on your alcohol," said Potter.

Potter enjoyed a perk that's never before been available to air passengers flying in and out of San Diego.


Duty Free Americas already runs stores at the U.S.-Mexico border, offering luxury goods without the sometimes hefty local and national taxes. Now they also run a duty free store inside San Diego's airport.

"It's a symbol of how we want to change San Diego," said Mayor Bob Filner. "We want to be a world class city with world class education, world class arts and also a world class airport."

The duty free shop is just the first of many new stores opening in the airport. Nick Marmion, who manges airport concessions for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, said 87 new stores will open in the airport in the next 15 months, and most of the them will be accessible to all passengers. Their brand names will be national, regional and local.

"We want our passengers to realize that they're in San Diego," said Marmion. "So when they see Phil's BBQ, or Saffron, or Stone Brewery, they'll realize they're home, or they can take Phil's BBQ on the road with them as they're flying back east."

The concession overhaul is part of the $1 billion expansion of the airport's terminals. That project is expected to be finished next summer.