{March 24, 2013}   Ho ho ho and a bottle of rum

I flew to the Caribbeans yesterday. After we landed, we had time to go into the terminal and do some shopping before turning around and flying back home. I am not a big shopper,  so normally I don’t bother browsing the stores. But, yesterday,  I did.  
There was a lot of touristy things to buy. I bypassed those shops and headed straight to the alcohol store.  Good choice. I bought a bottle of Cruzan coconut rum for $9. And that is with my 10% off employee discount. Gotta love getting an airline discount on liquor sales! I was on a high the whole flight home due to my bargain find. Which got me thinking about how overpriced booze is at home. I can buy the same bottle at my local store for about $25. That’s more than double. Why is it marked up so much? Is it the duty, local taxes, greed? It certainly does not cost $25 to make and bottle rum. Somebody is making a tidy little profit, and it’s not me.  I will definitely be browsing the shops of far away lands from now on. 

I always declare my purchases to the customs officer when I land. It’s not worth losing my job over lying about a bottle of rum. Fortunately,  the agents are pretty lenient with crew when we buy alcohol  even when we are not entitled to duty free purchases as we were not out of the country for a long enough duration. They might raise an eyebrow, of course, if you buy too many bottles of drink. Like the time I flew to Santiago and brought home 8 bottles of wine. I had to pay extra taxes upon arrival but it was so worth it.

I wasn’t the only one of my crew to pick up bargains at the airport. Two other flight attendants bought a bottle and the first officer bought a huge wheel of Gouda cheese for $60. Normally,  at home,  it would cost double that. He too imported his cheese into the country without a visit to secondary customs. 

It’s like Christmas with all these great finds. Ho ho ho.


1. To deter people from buying it, thereby reducing the diseases associated with heavy alcohol abuse (diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity) from clogging up a public, tax-funded, health care system.

2. To generate huge amounts of revenue to help pay for a public, tax funded society and everything that comes with it: welfare, education, health care, OAS, child care benefits, a typically lower crime rate as a result of these factors, etc.

3. To pay employees good wages with benefits. To be a model employer for the private sector to follow. This is certainly something flight attendants can appreciate, as they’ve often led the fight to have such things themselves. And for GOOD reason too.

People who have access to cheap booze usually don’t have access to any of these important things. Places where alcohol is more expensive (Britain, Australia, Canada, etc.) tend to have a better quality of life overall because of this.

I’m happy to pay more if I don’t have to live without these things. I think paying for one more than makes up for the other.

That said, I do always take advantage of the rules regarding alcohol imports from cheaper places whenever I can. A penny saved, etc. But when that’s not possible, I just buy cheaper stuff and live with it.

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