If you're at least an occasional traveler, you probably know the feeling: the annoyance of delayed departures, which means having to spend an hour or more trapped in a noisy, uncomfortable airport transit lounge.
Unfortunately, it's happening with increasing frequency. Or routing may make several hours of waiting time necessary between connecting flights. In either case, the clock ticks slowly, so you have a bite to eat and something to drink. And if you're traveling internationally, you head for the duty-free shops.
Most airport duty-free shops have come of age. Their stock has been expanded to include a wide variety of name-label goods, ranging from electronics and silk ties to local handcrafts and foodstuffs, in addition to the standard spirits, perfume, tobacco and chocolates.
Selections might be limited, but duty-free prices beat those in town, unless you've tracked down the best discount shops. But the surroundings in those places are rarely pleasant: crowds are off-putting, displays are unappealing, salespeople are brusk and neon doesn't show true colors. You may walk away with a pretty silk scarf . . . and a headache.
Copenhagen Airport has begun a new era in duty-free shopping and transit passenger convenience. On April 29 SAS began its sophisticated airport shopping center, designed to resemble Copenhagen's delightful Tivoli Gardens.
Abundance of Greenery
Danish architect Vilhelm Lauritzen's modern building is elegant, spacious and airy. It has old-fashioned street lights, a marble floor, decorative signs over individual shop entrances and an abundance of carefully groomed greenery. Plenty of fine merchandise, but no headaches.
The boutiques display an impressive array of top-level goods from Denmark and other countries.
The shops are branches of Copenhagen's best-known stores, those along the Stroget, the city's famous pedestrians-only shopping street. In their leases, these retailers have guaranteed lower prices at the airport than in town. Most have terrific reductions and offer sales on items.
In addition, purchases totaling more than $90 qualify for up to a 22% VAT tax rebate, which may be collected immediately at the nearby VAT office (other VAT refund certificates from purchases made throughout Scandinavia may be redeemed at the same time). The shopping center features the following boutiques:
Georg Jensen's exquisite silver is recognized worldwide for quality and fine design. This shop carries a good selection of both jewelry and flatware, plus jewelry pieces of white gold with diamonds and other gems.
Bracelets cost $20 and up. Spoons range from about $70 to $250. Place settings of Michelsen tableware cost about $425 and up. There are also attractive and accurate watches and a selection of 10 different clocks, including one with three faces for different time zones ($115).
The Museum Jewelry Shop sells unusual reproductions of antique necklaces, bracelets and other pieces found in the graves of the Vikings and Bronze Age Scandinavians. The pieces are reproduced in silver, gold and bronze. Many of them have fascinating animal motifs or fabulously braided metal strands.
Silver bracelets cost about $185 and up, earrings are about $15 and up, gold rings about $650 and up and delightful Viking horse pins about $35 and up. These pieces are exquisite.
The Royal Copenhagen features tableware and figurines by Denmark's two finest porcelain manufacturers, Bing & Grondahl and Royal Copenhagen.
A lovely statue of a mermaid (the symbol of Copenhagen) costs about $200. Variously patterned dinner plates by both manufacturers sell for about $45 and up. A large, delicate, white, lattice-work bowl costs $140. The shop also has a full range of sparkling wine glasses, tumblers and decorative glassware by Holmgaard.
The Scandinavian Art Shop sells beautiful glassware and art glass from Sweden, Norway and Finland. Works produced at Orrefors, Kosta Boda and Iittala are included in the shop's collection. The collection is not complete but prices are very good.
For example, Designer Eva Englund's beautiful handblown Maya bowl sells for $198. There are also some unusual hand-painted porcelain miniatures of Danish country houses. These sell for about $30 to $40.
Birger Christensen sells furs in the United States and elsewhere, but the prices are better here.
Beautifully styled full mink coats cost from $2,060 to $13,000. Red fox coats are about $7,100 and up. There are also high fashion, rather conservative clothes and beautiful Italian silk scarfs for $25. The shop also sells mink key chains for $15 to $45.
Moves Leather offers a broad range of leather goods by Danish and international manufacturers, including Pierre Cardin and Gucci handbags (about $230 and up). Handsome Danish leather luggage in sturdy black leather are about $300 and up.