Research into the baffling need to show your boarding pass when paying for stuff at airport shops claims it's yet another tax scam being perpetuated on the nation, with the airport shops using the data to avoid paying the 20 per cent VAT on items bought by people travelling outside the EU – and not passing on the savings.
According to the Independent's piece, most airport shops have no legal need to actually see boarding passes seeing as they're just Boots and Dixons and WH Smith and therefore just like normal shops. The boarding pass ruse is there only to make sure companies with airport branches can bend tax rules to their advantage.
In short, when Mr Tourist buys a Nexus 7 to make his flight home a little more bearable by keeping his child quiet, the shops check his pass and record that he's travelling outside of the EU and is therefore not required to pay VAT. So the shop doesn't have to pay VAT on the original purchase either, but... poor Mr Tourist still pays the full price, as does any UK customer even though we may expect discounted goods as part of this tax-dropping freeforall.
So stop off at a Tesco to buy your vodka and perfume before travelling, then drink and spray it all over yourself before boarding. Like the air stewards do. [Independent]