Shockingly expensive meal: Flickr

“Making flying suck less” has long been an obvious winning issue for any politician brave enough to stand up to the airline industry. In fact, an easy way to start is to make airports suck less.

One thing about airports: they suck? “Why?” you may be asking yourself, and I’ll tell you: everything is expensive. Don’t believe me? Learn to count you fucking idiot.

Go to the airport. Go buy yourself a crappy takeout sandwich. I’ll wait here.... “Wha!!!” you exclaim. “Eleven dollars for a crappy takeout sandwich?” And that’s not all. Every damn thing is outrageously expensive inside an airport. Food prices? Scandalous. Snack prices? Absurd. Magazines, books, aspirin, contact solution, Pepto-Bismol prices? Shocking. Even bottles of good old water and soda are flagrantly overpriced—a nice racket, considering you can’t bring in your own.

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So not only are you forced to pay hundreds of dollars to be packed uncomfortably into a flying Greyhound bus with no free food as some asshole reclines his seat into your lap, but you are also forced to be positively extorted on any small purchases you make in the airport while waiting to be herded onto your cattle car with wings. Could you just “bring food from home” instead of making any purchases? Sure, just like you could grow all your own food instead of going the grocery store and sew your own clothes instead of shopping and etc. There are a lot of things you could do. But that is not an excuse for extortion. The only reason you would bring food from home is because otherwise you will be subject to price-gouging. That does not make the price-gouging okay, any more than forgetting to lock your front door makes it okay for someone to rob your house.

The problem is not just that the people who operate airport stores are soulless monsters; the problem is also that an airport is a fully enclosed environment. And—like theme parks and movie theaters and other fully enclosed environments—the stores in them extort you because they know you don’t have any other choice.

This is unfair. It is predatory. It preys upon a group of people who have no options. It is wrong, for the same reason it is wrong to jack up all the prices in the only store in town left operating after a hurricane hits. It’s mean. It’s impolite, inhuman, and, my friends, it should be illegal. We have all sorts of laws against the obvious, unjust, unfettered exploitation of consumers and we need a law about airports. Specifically: We need a law that the price of stuff they sell at airports should be (fairly close to) the prevailing price of the same items in the town that the airport serves.

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Now that’s a winning issue. Take it for free.

A sandwich? That don’t cost $11. Whether you make it inside or outside an airport it shouldn’t cost more than six damn dollars. Don’t fall for the okey doke. There is no rational reason for airport prices except because they can. Can what? Can fuck you over. “Economics,” someone will say, stupidly. This ain’t economics my friends. This is gangster shit.

We don’t need that anywhere in America. Not in its skies. And definitely not in its airports—the gateways to the skies. Our elected leaders need to put a stop to this now, before I am forced to shoplift again and again.