Think airport bottled water is too pricey? You're not alone.

Kitson is upset with the way its LAX store is being managed. Photo: Westfield.

Kitson is upset with the way its LAX store is being managed. Photo: Westfield.

Is bottled water at airports too expensive?

A quirky Los Angeles-based retain chain called Kitson thinks so. A couple of years ago, Kitson thought it would be a good idea to open a store in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. But due to arcane airport rules, Kitson doesn't actually get to operate its own store at the terminal. That job goes to Hudson Group, a giant company that operates lots of airport concessions for various brands. 

Executives at Kitson hate the way their store is being run, and the two sides have traded lots of accusations in court and in the media, as this Los Angeles Times story makes clear.  (There's also this Times story from January.)

This week we have a new accusation from Kitson. From the Kitson press release:

Kitson alleges that Hudson Group, in an attempt to retain its monopoly on retail prices at the airport, has unfairly retaliated against Kitson for exposing price gouging on bottled water at LAX stores. A one-liter bottle of water, one of the most essential items for air travelers, is priced at $5.09 in LAX retail stores.

Hudson Group’s inflated prices violate the airport’s “street value” price policy as set by the Los Angeles World Airports, the department of the City of Los Angeles that owns and operates local airports. When Kitson attempted to sell the same water bottles at LAX for $2.55, Hudson Group blocked the local company.

What do you think of this new allegation? Have you ever wondered why airport water is so expensive?

One Pro-Tip for LAX. Find the bottled water vending machines in the terminals. Prices are reasonable - under $2 for a small bottle.