Last updated: 09:40 AM ET, Tue March 10 2015

Are Airport Stores Jacking Up Water Prices? Courts To Decide

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | March 10, 2015

Are Airport Stores Jacking Up Water Prices? Courts To Decide

Much like a football fan at the stadium on Sunday afternoon, travelers understand that they are going to pay a little extra for food and beverage while they wait for their next flight at the airport.

Nonetheless, the seemingly growing gap between a fair price and reality has incited a bitter battle within Los Angeles International Airport. 

Department store chain Kitson Stores has filed a lawsuit against the Hudson Group, alleging that the major operator of airport newsstands and other stores is exploiting passengers at LAX with "hugely" inflated water prices.

According to the filing in Los Angeles County Superior Court via, Kitson accuses Hudson of refusing to sell bottled water at $2.55 a liter at the two LAX Kitson shops it currently operates.

Rather, customers are being charged nearly twice as much, with bottles costing about $5 at those stores, according to the court filing. 

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

Hudson fired back, with attorney Brian Timmons calling the lawsuit a publicity stunt aimed at shifting the spotlight away from Kitson's contractual failures.

"Kitson is known for selling pricey items in its high end boutiques," said Timmons. "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 lawsuit wasn't the first jab landed in the ongoing battle between the two companies and likely won't be the last.

In February, Hudson filed a complaint against Kitson in Superior Court, citing breach of contract and alleging that the boutique retailer is in fact the one gouging consumers. 

Timmons said the group is moving forward with plans to end its relationship with Kitson, adding that the two LAX Kitson stores are expected to be closed by the end of March.

With both sides making accusations, picking sides is difficult. However, there's no debating that air travelers at LAX, or any other U.S. airport for that matter, are better off stopping by the water fountain or bringing along their own empty container for endless, free refills.  

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