When it comes to airport snack prices, comedian Kylie Brakeman is dead serious.
So when she noticed that her go-to travel snack — Chex Mix — is being sold for a wide range of prices at various airports, she embarked on a crowdsourced adventure to compile as much data as possible on the topic — for “science.”
“Started doing science. Feel free to report any data you have,” Brakeman wrote on X. In her post, which has been viewed over 2.5 million times, she shares her initial findings from three airports: An 8-ounce bag of Traditional Chex Mix costs $9.99 at LaGuardia Airport, $5.99 at Indianapolis International, and $4.76 at Dallas Fort Worth International.
Brakeman says this price disparity inspired her to find out how much they cost at all the airports — and she never expected so many people to become invested in data collection.
“I tweeted it because I earnestly really wanted a bag of Chex Mix, but the economy prevented me from buying it and and I just wanted to know if anybody else felt this way,” Brakeman tells TODAY.com, adding that she frequently flies back and forth between Los Angeles and New York, often stopping for layovers in the Midwest and elsewhere.
“I noticed that the middle of the country is always much cheaper,” she continues. “LaGuardia is out of control, a lawless place with no regulation.”
Later that day, Brakeman thanked those who contributed to the “outpouring of data” and added a few stipulations to her Chex Mix economic index: Participants should be adding data on 8-ounce bags of Traditional Chex Mix only and taking photos of the pre-tax price.
“As a scientist I can only assume everybody stuck to 8oz. I threw out data that had bad vibes. btw I got a C in statistics,” she wrote on X.
Brakeman has organized submissions into four categories: those she’s seen herself, those with photo evidence, those without photographic evidence but that she suspects are accurate, and “I’m not sure I believe you” prices.
And yet, there are still those who doubt her highly scientific study — like the Wall Street Journal, which poked more holes in it than a Chex piece.
WSJ contacted a Seattle-Tacoma International Airport spokesperson to verify the accuracy of the data. Social media users reported to Brakeman that Chex Mix costs $12.99 or $14.99, but the spokesperson verified an actual cost of $5.99 for 8.75-ounce bags at three concourses.
This led Brakeman to respond with a video. Dressed in her press conference best, the comedian spoke.
“My fellow Americans. By now you may have seen that the Wall Street Journal has disputed the data in my Chex Mix study. This is my official response: Oh, come on. Ah, shoot. Really? Man. I thought I had it. Can you check again?” she says in the tongue-in-cheek video. “You can’t win ‘em all.”
WSJ replied to the video by punnily remarking that “Fact-Chex are an important part” of its reporting process. In another tweet, Brakeman adds that she never thought she would be “taken down by a financial publication.”
Why are airport snacks so expensive?
Brakeman’s unofficial study, regardless of its accuracy, speaks to a larger issue of travelers finding airport food to be prohibitively expensive. They feel taken advantage of as peckish and captive consumers.
In 2021, LaGuardia Airport — where Chex Mix is $9.99 — went viral for charging nearly $28 for a single beer. The ensuing outcry pushed the?Port Authority?to forbid airport vendors from charging more than 10% over “street prices.”
According to research conducted by Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA), more than 80% of airports use a retail and concessions pricing methodology called “street pricing plus,” which allows vendors to “adjust pricing to reflect the additional costs of operating within an airport environment.”
About two-thirds of airports cap pricing at 10% higher than street pricing, and airports usually conduct pricing audits to ensure compliance, an ACI-NA spokesperson tells TODAY.com.
The spokesperson emphasized that “pricing strategies are highly localized” and that “the cost of doing business in an airport environment is considerably higher than outside an airport.”
Standing in solidarity against airport price-gouging, Brakeman says she was “very charmed” by the amount of people on the internet helped her on her quest.
“It’s a testament to community science and to people just wanting to get to the bottom of something like this,” she says.
“I love that everyone sprung into action to help, everybody who was at an airport that day sent me something,” she continues. “I think it’s just relatable to a lot of people because we’re just being price-gouged in every direction at airlines now and there’s no control over it. I think a lot of people have felt this way.”