Best Buy airport kiosks: Rip off or godsend?

America-sized vending machines are the new big things at the nation’s airports, giant robots that help you pick out the last second headphones or digital camera that you forgot to bring on the road.

If they’re anything like the airport Burger King, however, then consumers should be concerned about the markup. Like the restaurant, it’s always possible that airport retailers can inflate the price of their goods because they have a monopoly on the local market, squeezing passengers for more cash and gouging for a few extra dollars.

Concerned, Gadling Labs took a quick survey of the Las Vegas airport Best Buy Kiosk and then did a comparison with the current online prices. What we found was that prices were identical between the airport and the online store, from headphones to cameras to HD video devices. Here are a few examples:

Sony Bloggie Touch: ($199|$199) (LAS|Online)
Bose OE Audio Headphones: ($179|$179) (LAS|Online)
Skullcandy Skullcrusher Headphones ($69|$69) (LAS|Online)

What does this mean? That Best Buy is charging passing airport customers the same price that it charges its customers elsewhere. Way to go Best Buy — it’s the classy thing to do.

Corporate executive not welcome in the United Airlines first class cabin

The United Airlines bad news machine has been working overtime lately – first they were mocked in the “United breaks guitars” video clip, then they screwed up with that same passenger when they lost his luggage.

Today’s bad news comes from Dulles airport, where a bald man in a track suit was called to the podium to have his first class upgrade revoked. The reason? He was dressed too casually.

Now, this was no regular bald man in a tacky track suit – this gentleman is Armando Alvarez, a vice president with electronics retailer Best Buy.

Apparently, United Airlines suddenly decided that they’d pretend we are all back in the 60’s, and that the first class cabin should only be occupied by people dressed for the occasion.

Mr. Alvarez was interviewed by the Washington DC Fox affiliate and told reporters that he was humiliated and embarrassed. When he tried to contact the customer relations department, nobody responded, and even the Fox reporters couldn’t find anyone within United Airlines willing to speak on the matter.

The United Airlines contract of carriage only makes mention of barring barefoot passengers, and I’ve never encountered a dress code. Non-rev passengers (employees and their friends and family) do need to dress in business casual attire, but that obviously does not apply to paying passengers like Mr. Alvarez.

That said, I’m sure a lot of people would love to see a basic level of decency return to the first class cabin, but to be honest, that part of the plane really isn’t all that impressive. A slightly wider seat and some warm nuts don’t justify having to put on your Sunday suit for a trip.

After the jump, a video clip from the interview with