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The sky's the limit for Korean Air duty-free shop

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Korean Air is about to take duty-free shopping to new heights. The airline plans to equip each of its 10 new A380 planes with duty-free shops at the back of the main flight deck, where passengers can browse lighted cases of makeup, perfume, jewelry, watches and other products.

Traditionally, international passengers choose items from duty-free catalogs on board and then purchase them from a cart that flight attendants push down the aisle.

The new shop, which Korean Air plans to debut June 10, will function as a "physical catalog" that lets fliers peruse the actual items, said Jon Heath, technical director of AIM Aviation, which designed the shop.

Passengers will be called in groups (first class, then business class and then economy class) to enter the shop and place orders with a crew member, who will later deliver purchases to them at their seats. No tobacco products will be sold, and only limited amounts of alcohol.

The shop will take up the space of a lavatory, a storage closet and 13 economy passenger seats. Worried about turbulence? Don't be. Bottles of pricey alcohol and perfume will be attached to shelves with magnets.

According to Heath, Korean Air is the first airline to adopt a physical duty-free storefront on its planes. Korean passengers tend to buy more more duty-free products compared with Europeans and South Americans, and Korean Air's flights routinely sell out of such items, an airline spokeswoman said.

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