I’ve decided to do a new feature here at Friejose in TJ & Zimbabwe, Friejose’s Duty Free Review. I fly enough now that I see plenty of duty free stores, so why not share my impressions with all of you? (That’s a rhetorical question.) The idea is to post a photo or two of the various duty free stores I see while traveling back and forth to Tajikistan and share a few thoughts about them as well. Preferably, these thoughts will be cutting and funny, but one shouldn’t hope for too much.
But before I start with the inaugural post of Friejose’s Duty Free Review, let me say a few words for our readers who don’t travel much internationally or, conversely, happen not to live in a place with shitty alcohol options. You folks may wonder: who cares about duty free stores? When I lived in the U.S., I often had this thought — namely, what the hell? — whenever I saw people salivating over dusty bottles of Glenfiddich or ogling cartons of Kents in duty free shops. Let me tell you, when your best wine options are the choice between terrible Moldovan or awful Georgian wine (which is doubly depressing because wines from both countries have the potential to be quite good), you start to appreciate duty free shops and their delectable variety and surprisingly reasonable prices. And there’s Toblerone!
At the end, I’ll give a letter grade for the duty free options in the airport in question, based on the American school grading system.
So, without further ado, my review of the duty free shop at the Dushanbe International Airport (DYU).
Number of Options: One. You see it pictured above, and it’s located in the sole departure hall at DYU.
Quality: Sad. International options for alcohol, candy, and the like are very sparse and that isn’t even alleviated by a good selection of local products.
Prices: Pointlessly high. I mean, what is the point of a duty free stores that has significantly higher prices than the shops in town? I suppose there’s less of a chance of the customs guys hassling you for having alcohol in your checked luggage, which has happened to me several times, if you buy at the duty free post-customs check. Which raises a more important question: why in heaven’s name do the customs guys care how many bottles of terrible, $5 Tajik vodka you’re taking out of the country? Yeah, I know, it’s an easy way to shakedown foreigners taking home silly gifts for their lush friends at home, but it is also profoundly uncool.
Convenience: Very low. Dushanbe’s duty free is often closed when flights are departing at night or in early morning, and since that’s when the vast majority of flights leave, it means that the duty free is pretty much worthless. An added bonus is that since the one duty free shop is located in the departures hall, arriving passengers have no access to it at all. So there’s that.
Overall Grade: D-. At least it exists, stocks some products, and is occasionally open; that counts for something in my book, but not much.