My duty free shopping experience at Bengaluru Duty Free

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I was recently flying from Bangalore to Dubai via Jet Airways, and had, as usual reached the Kempegowda International Airport a couple of hours before my flight was due. I was listlessly watching the flight schedule screen and was wondering whether I should buy a book to pass the time, when my eyes fell upon a display board, illuminated, and saying: We surpass even Dubai Duty Free when it comes to value for money. Intrigued, I walked over to the display and found myself at the storefront of what I can only describe at the most posh store I’d seen so far in Bangalore. This was Bengaluru Duty Free, Bangalore’s top duty free shopping mecca.

Entering the store, I was dazzled by the elegant displays of liquors, chocolates, cigars, cigarettes and tobacco accessories, electronic gadgets, perfumes and cosmetics, clothes, luxury fashion goods…the store seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see and the expensive-looking wooden shelves were stacked with the finest luxury brands. It was a veritable temptation island of material pleasures. I have always been a fan of fine Scotch Whisky, and remembering my memorable experiences tasting Teacher’s and Ballantine’s on special occasions, I headed straight to the liquor aisle.

It was with pleasure that I took up and examined fine bottles of matured whiskies by Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Balvenie, Laphroaig, Talisker, Lagavulin, Ardbeg, Glenmorangie and other excellent staples of Uisge Beatha (Gaelic for ‘lively water’ or ‘water of life’, the Scots’ fond moniker for Whisky). When I checked the price tags on these delectable bottles, I realized why there was so much hype and hoopla surrounding duty free shopping. It’s not just the fancy ambience, the top-line brands, and the exciting in-store contests and lucky draws, it’s the most basic factor: the price. Duty free goods are exempt from certain local and national taxes and duties, and this makes a huge difference to the price. Thus, a bottle of Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Whisky costs Rs. 4600 in the Indian retail market, but if you buy the same bottle at Bengaluru Duty Free, it costs $39, which comes approximately to Rs. 2,343. Even without any additional discounts, that’s a steal!

After wandering the other aisles and gazing in awe at the world’s most famous brands and controlling my temptation to purchase every object in sight, I picked up a bottle of Glenfiddich 12 Year Old and a Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve, and was on my way to the purchase counter when a cheerful store employee directed my attention to a Vodka and Whisky tasting event happening as part of a special summer promotion. Do good things never end at duty free stores? Apparently not, as I savoured a pint of Absolut Blue Vodka and one of Jack Daniel’s No. 1 Whiskey, feeling much better about my trip. As I paid for my cherished  Whisky bottles at the counter, the friendly salesgirl directed my attention to a nearby kiosk where Bengaluru Duty Free’s Facebook page was showing and encouraged me to like their page and my favourite promotions in their summer campaign, called ‘Bengaluru Summer Surprise – A Shopper’s Delight’. I liked the page and the offer posters for some of my favourite drinks from Absolut, Smirnoff and Chivas, and was handed a special discount of $2 each on my two bottles. Feeling on top of the world, I exited the store.

As I walked towards my boarding gate, I remembered the display outside the store and smiled at the thought of how serendipitous it was that I could now actually verify the claim of Bengaluru Duty Free’s prices being better than those of Dubai Duty Free. Whether the claim turns out to be true or not, my purchases, and my overall experience at Bengaluru Duty Free was certainly value for money and more. I look forward to my next flight from Bangalore, so I can experience this superb shopping destination again.

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