Water price 'gouging' at Los Angeles airport spurs lawsuit

Inflated price of bottled water takes advantage of post-911 airport rules, retailer says

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The Independent Online

Inflated prices for basic commodities are an accepted part of flying for most passengers. But the price of a litre bottle of water at one US airport is in the spotlight in the US after a retailer filed papers against the operator of two of its stores, accusing the chain of exploiting passengers.

Kitson Stores, which runs two Hudson News stores at Los Angeles airport under a contract, said Hudson News has refused to sell the a litre bottle of water for $2.55, instead charging passengers around $5.

"Water is one of the most basic necessities for travellers and Hudson is taking advantage of the post- 9-11 airport restrictions," Kitson attorney Steven Bledsoe said of the inflated prices in a telephone interview with Associated Press. "We believe that Hudson has breached its contracts with Kitson and has no right to close the Kitson stores."

Brian Timmons, representing Hudson News, said the Kitson claim is a publicity stunt.

"Kitson is known for selling pricey items in its high end boutiques," Timmons said. "Anyone who thinks that Kitson is really motivated here by an altruistic concern over how much consumers are paying for water at LAX has either never shopped at a Kitson store or is really naive."

The price of water is not the only dispute between the two retailers. In January, the Los Angeles Times reported that Kitson was warning passengers at Los Angeles airport to steer clear of the chocolates sold at its two airport stores. According to reports, Kitson claimed Hudson sold sweets after their expiration dates.

A Hudson representative disputed the claims.