Price Hike in Motor City
Detroit Metro Airport's $1.2 billion Northwest Airlines terminal opened this winter to the usual gush over convenient parking, easy check-in, and abundant shopping and dining. But one feature seems more throwback than state-of-the-art: management's decision to let the 80-odd restaurants and stores (which include a Brooks Brothers and a General Motors gift shop) charge as much as 10 percent above "street prices," or what you'd pay outside the airport. That move diverges from a decade-long trend. Since 1992, when management firm BAA USA introduced street pricing at Pittsburgh International, many U.S. airports have forbidden retailers to jack up prices. "It's a big mistake," says Michael E. Bell, founder of BAA USA and currently a Virginia-based consultant, of Detroit's move. "It's not that people can't afford it. They just don't like to be ripped off."
Detroit Metro management uses the post—September 11 drop-off in air traffic to justify the policy. And some observers say a 10 percent markup is reasonable. But many U.S. airports are holding prices steady, citing increased revenue per passenger because of security-based delays. BAA USA, which also runs terminals at Indianapolis and Boston's Logan, remains committed to street pricing, as do the major New York—area airports.
Prague's New Manifesto
It's a testament to how distant a memory the Iron Curtain is that Prague's Museum of Communism sits on a fashionable stretch of Na Príkope between a McDonald's and a casino. Open since December, it has proved a hit with visitors, but some residents are less than happy with its displays of mock interrogation rooms, machinists' workshops, and the near-empty shelves of a Communist-era grocery store. That the museum's founder is Glenn Spicker, a 36-year-old American (who brought Prague its first bagels, in 1995), only heightens the distaste. Spicker insists that the five-room gallery is essential to illuminating Prague's recent past: "You see the four-hundred-year-old palaces, but there's nothing about what people lived through for forty years." Historians complain they weren't consulted, but many have yet to visit. Detractors include Czech Communist Party spokeswoman Vera Zezulkova: "It presents a completely one-sided view of history." (Zezulkova has no plans to make an appearance.) Spicker says critics may be outraged only because it took a foreigner to devise a way to make a buck off Marxism. 10 Na Príkope; 420-2/2421-2966; admission $4.