Outrageous Beer Prices Prompts Audit of LaGuardia Airport’s Food and Drink Costs

by Jennifer Shea

$27.85 for a beer?

OTG is a company that operates concession stands at LaGuardia, JFK and Newark airports. And it is dealing with a backlash after a tweet about its beer prices went viral.

Cooper Lund of Brooklyn was traveling through LaGuardia recently. Then he noticed a restaurant in LaGuardia selling a Sam Adams Summer Ale for $27.85, the New York Post reports.

“Lol at all of this, including the additional 10% ‘COVID Recovery Fee’ that doesn’t go to workers,” Lund tweeted, including an image that showed the $27.85 price tag.

OTG has said that the beer’s price was advertised incorrectly. It claims the prices on the menu were for 23-ounce pours.

OTG Tries to Make Amends With Free Beer

After Lund’s tweet went viral, the company hopped on Twitter to try to make things right.

“Yikes. GOOD CATCH! That Sam Summer **price is incorrect** and has been updated. + note all other listed prices are for 23oz pours,” OTG replied.

OTG spokesperson Michael Marchese told The City that they had “quickly corrected” the price on the LaGuardia beer to $18.15.

“Because of these posted-pricing hiccups, our in-house menu teams have been diligently working to ensure pricing across all restaurants are, in fact, rendering correctly,” Marchese added.

OTG also offered Lund beer “on us” the next time he passes through a regional airport.

Port Authority Orders Audit

But that attempt to make amends was not enough to stave off the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The regional transportation agency then required OTG to audit its prices.

“The Port Authority is committed to enforcing that all terminal operators and concessionaires adhere to cost parity policies throughout our airports,” a Port Authority spokesperson told The City. “We know this market is expensive enough already. So we’re committed to everything we can do to ensure reasonable prices for our customers.”

Last year, the Port Authority board allowed airport price hikes of up to 10% more than “street pricing.” In other words, terminal operators and concession companies, which set the food and beverage prices at airports, can charge up to 10% more than businesses in the metro New York and New Jersey area do for the same items.

But in some cases, airport concession stands appear to be testing the limits of even that generous increase. The City compared convenience store items sold inside and outside the airport. And the outlet found price differences of way more than 10%.

The Port Authority says it uses anonymous shoppers and social media posts – like Lund’s tweet – to ferret out excessively high prices. And in the case of the $27.85 beer, that strategy seems to be working.