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Ahead for airline customers: a bigger variety of shops to stroll in during those waits in the terminal. The traditional perfume and liquor in duty-free shops are giving way to a broader array of consumer goods. Japanese travelers can pick up prepackaged meats in the Anchorage airport, while "Made in Japan" items are brisk sellers with Latin American passengers in Miami. West Germany's Frankfurt airport goes even further: It boasts a supermarket, movie theater, and disco.

Missing from the trend: better-quality restaurants. High labor costs and more profitable concessions are forcing them out. One major airport is already experimenting with a McDonald's, and more fast-food in-roads are likely.

One irony: Although airlines are doing all they can to lighten planes and thereby cut fuel costs, passengers are encouraged to buy and carry on board all the airport purchases they want. The reason: The profit to airports lowers the amount they charge the airlines.m

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