Airport shops are facing a “grassroots rebellion” by customers who are refusing to show boarding passes at the checkout.

Stores are using customer’s boarding passes to check their destination; if it is outside the EU, the store do not have to pay VAT. They are now being urged to pass the savings onto their customer instead.

Many fliers have been surprised to hear that it is not necessary to show a boarding pass at the till in order to buy something at the airport, and any shops have reportedly been saying that showing a pass is a legal requirement, and refused to serve customers without one.

Treasury minister David Gauke said VAT relief at airports was intended to reduce prices for travellers, not be a windfall gain for shops.

Customers of stores including WH Smith, Boots and Dixons are now refusing to show their boarding passes when asked.

The Independent’s travel editor, Simon Calder, told BBC Radio 5 live that there are “all kinds of stories given by retailers to explain why passengers should show their boarding passes, including that it is for security reasons”, which he said is “complete tosh”.