Undercover at the airport

Within the hustle and bustle of an airport lies a treasure trove of eateries, shops and specialty kiosks.

Within the hustle and bustle of an airport lies a treasure trove of eateries, shops and specialty kiosks. It's a perfect hotspot for mystery shopping, as told by Mystery Shop Maven. Taking on assignments at the airport can be a fun way to kill some wait time before your flight. If you've already booked some travel, why not get paid for your time in the terminal? You can even complete your report on the flight. Mystery shoppers help airport businesses polish the quality of their service and increase revenue, as reported by The Advocate.

If secret shopping at the newsstand feels like uncharted territory, don't be alarmed. Take note of some key strategies and you'll be able to plan your approach:

Time to the minute
Of everything you'll bring to an airport assignment, punctuality is the most important. You need to schedule shopping time between security and boarding, and you should take into account the unpredictability of traffic and the security line. Rushing through a mystery shop could cost your your commission, so be an early bird.

Break a rule
The airport is one place you can get away with carrying a printed copy of your job guidelines. Job providers understand how easy it is for anyone to forget things or lose focus while traveling. By the time you arrive at the airport, you've already multi-tasked a sizeable checklist of things. You'll need a chance to collect yourself after the x-ray scanners. It's okay to refer to your guidelines prior to shopping - just make sure you do so in a place that can't be seen from your shopping location. Before proceeding, you can stow your guideline list discreetly in your carry-on or an interior coat pocket.

What if I don't have a plane ticket?
While an already-planned trip is the easiest time for scheduling an airport mystery shop, it isn't the only time to do so. Plenty of assignments take place outside the terminal and require no ticket. For example, you might be asked to evaluate accessibility and service at a parking garage. Perhaps you'll be asked to check the efficiency of a particular airline's baggage handling - just how long does it take between flight touchdown and the arrival of luggage on that carousel? Car rental is another mystery shopper task that requires no security clearance at the airport.

If no vacation plans are on your docket and you're interested in sleuthing the shops in Terminal B, you'll need to purchase a plane ticket. It may come as a surprise that doing so can be worth your time and money. The first rule is to purchase a fully refundable or transferable ticket, the latter of which is good for future travel. Ask your job provider about the possibility of a reimbursement for an airline's refund or transfer fees. You can also ask your scheduler about tackling multiple jobs within the concourse, as you'll have plenty of time for extensive shopping if you're in no rush to catch a flight. Completing several jobs during the same trip can help cover your reimbursement fees and might even put you ahead. As with any other type of assignment, you want to do some math before accepting the task at hand.

Of course, if you do have security clearance, you'll be in high demand among your schedulers, according to the Mystery Shoppers Manual. Occasionally, your job provider may be able to set up security clearance for you without the need for a ticket purchase. This really depends on current rules set by the Department of Homeland Security. It never hurts to ask!