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It’s no secret that eating at most airport restaurants is a great deal more expensive than if you were to eat at a similar restaurant on the street. This is because vendors know that once passengers pass through the secured area, we become captive consumers. Our choices are immediately limited and restaurants and retailers take advantage of this.

For decades, passengers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) were protected from higher-predatory pricing thanks to a piece of legislation capping prices at restaurants inside the terminal. Now, the Phoenix City Council has repealed that decades-old cap. This means that eating at PHX could become a lot more expensive.

Previously, the two companies that served the city-owned airport, SSP and HMS Hosts, were allowed to charge street prices plus 10% for menu items at restaurants. For example, a taco at one of Phoenix’s local restaurants might cost $5 and at PHX it costs $5.50. Other airports across the US including Chicago-O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth and Miami International Airport have a similar pricing policy.

Following the Phoenix City Council’s vote to repeal pricing controls, the two groups running the airport’s restaurants no longer have to abide by a street pricing policy.

A passenger sits at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
A passenger sits at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

In a statement to USA Today, council member Sal Diccio said, “Realistically, there is no reason for us to dictate price. That’s something each retail and concession operator should do on their own.” The city council noted that the original street pricing plus 10% policy came into effect when there was a single vendor operating concessions at the airport. With two vendors operating concessions at the airport, the city council believes that competition will keep pricing under control.

The change in pricing only applies to restaurants at the airport. Other concessions including retailers must still follow pricing controls.

Passengers can expect prices to increase as early as February 15th. Thelda Williams, the mayor of Phoenix, did note that if pricing becomes unreasonable, “it would come back to council.”

Unfortunately, PHX does not have any restaurants that are part of the Priority Pass network. This means that should the price controls be lifted this February, no one will be spared from the new and likely higher prices.

H/T: USA Today

Featured image via Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

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