Food

Air France campaign promotes economy experience

Air France (launching flights between Seattle and Paris this weekend) is rolling out a cute campaign focusing not on its business or first class amenities – but on what it gives to economy pass passengers.

And what other airlines don’t.

Noting that ‘budget’ carriers offer low prices but minimal amenities, the “Take a Chance or Fly Air France” campaign touts the fact that economy class passengers on Air France pay low prices but also get amenities such as in-flight entertainment, warm meals, and champagne.

To make the point, Air France has made up give-away boxes containing items that may be useful to passengers flying economy class on other airlines:

  • 5 foot scroll of Sudoku puzzles for flights without free entertainment
  • Scratch-and-sniff boeuf bourguignon meal patch for flights without free hot meals and;
  • Champagne gummies for flights without free champagne

The boxes will be given away via a vending machine at an event at The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles on March 24 (with a few golden tickets good for two round-trip tickets on Air France in the mix), but the rest of us can enter to win a box of goodies by entering an online sweepstakes.

 

Gate-delivery at airports going worldwide

We definitely have a trend. Or a new way of doing things at airports.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is the latest airport to offer a service that allows passengers to order meals from airport vendors and have it delivered to them wherever they are in the airport, in about 15 minutes.

Schiphol is working with food-delivery company Deliveroo and HMSHost International on a pilot program for deliveries in Piers (or concourses) D and E, and in the Mercure Hotel in Departure Lounge 3, and so far the pilot is a big success.

“The reactions from the passengers have been very positive,” Schiphol spokesman Paul Weber told me via email, “Passengers are smiling and waving to our deliverers, taking pictures of them and saying how innovative & quirky the service is. Most of them are very surprised by the existence of such a service, calling Schiphol “The airport of the future.”

For now, the meals available are prepared at Kebaya and The Market, The Grill and The Oven, which are located in Schiphol’s Street Food Market and are delivered by scooter, for a delivery charge of €2.50 (about $3) – but free delivery is being offered through March.

Schiphol isn’t the first airport to offer gate delivery. Airport Sherpa offers gate delivery of food and merchandise at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. At Your Gate recently began offering gate delivery at San Diego International Airport. Both companies plan expansions to other airports.

And, as part of an Airport Innovation Challenge, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, a start-up called Fetchy Fox received a $15,000 prize to develop a delivery program for food and retail at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington’s Dulles Airport.

 

Travel Tidbits for air travelers

 Brazilian restaurant for Miami International Airport

A popular chain restaurant from Brazil – Viena – has opened on the top (seventh) floor of the pre-security MIA Hotel at Miami International Airport.

The restaurant, which replaces the “Top of the Port” restaurant that was in that spot for many years, has a menu featuring Brazilian and European dishes, including salt cod fritters (Bolinho de Bacalau), Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) and the Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail.

In addition to great views, this new restaurant has free Wi-Fi, happy hour, large-screen TVS and electronic charging stations.

Foodie Week at Philadelphia International Airport

 March 12-18 is Foodie Week at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) with seven restaurants in Concourse B offering special entrees at a discount – $12 – throughout the week

  • Baba Bar: Harissa Chicken Sandwich
  • Boule Café: French Onion Grilled Cheese
  • Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar: Shrimp Calabrese
  • Germantown Biergarten: Cheddar Brat Platter
  • Love Grille: Cheesesteak Hoagie
  • Mezzogiorno: Short Rib and Tomato Pizza
  • Noobar: Spicy Chicken Fried Rice

United Airlines passengers can buy a place in line

United Airlines now allows standard economy passengers to purchase Priority Boarding, allowing them to board in group 2.

The cost is $9 per segment and, according to United, the number of passes sold will be “closely controlled based on flight, date, time of day and day-of-week restrictions.”

For those who already have TSA Precheck and really want to move up in the boarding process, this is a less expensive add-on than Premier Access, which offers priority boarding benefits along with other benefit such as access to premier check-in lines and security lanes. Prices for this add-on start at $15 per segment.

Keep in mind: the new Priority Pass option, like Premier Access, is non-refundable and is not available to you if you’ve purchased a Basic Economy ticket.

SXSW bring extra music to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport  

The SXSW mash-up of conferences and festivals is underway in Austin and the airport in the Live Music Capital of the World is doing its part to make sure everyone gets their fill of music.

In addition to the usual 21 live music events it offers each week, Austin Bergstrom International Airport is adding six extra performances during peak SXSW travel days – March 12, 13 and 19.

Of the extra performances, bands will play at the airport’s Asleep at the Wheel State at Ray Benson’s Roadhouse near Gate 10, while extra solo acts will perform at Annie’s and Waterloo. See the full schedule here.

Post Office plus at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports

The Parisian postal service – La Poste – has opened enhanced post offices at both Paris-Orly and Paris-Charles de Gaulle airports, In addition to 24-hour postal machines, these post offices will have gift shops, terminals where customers can make photo postcards, rentable work spaces, and other services, including a key drop.

Your face is your boarding pass

Passengers flying with British Airways from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to London Gatwick can now opt to use their face as their boarding pass, thanks to SITA’s biometric boarding technology, which scans a person’s face and matches it up with the data U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has on that passenger in their files.

The process is already being used with certain JetBlue flights at Boston Logan International Airport and British Airways flights at Los Angeles International Airport.

Going biometric isn’t a requirement to board the flights testing the new technology, but last year’s SITA’s passenger IT survey showed that 57% of passengers would use biometrics instead of a boarding pass. SITA reports that real world rates are even higher than that: nearly 100% of passengers are opting to use the biometric boarding during the trials.

Phoenix Sky Harbor Int’l will upgrade Terminal 3

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is going give its Terminal 3 a makeover, with lots of local dining options and fresh new shops. All should be open by 2010.

In addition to a branch of Shake Shack, locally-themed dining venues coming from both airport dining operators Host International and SSP American in the mix will include:

  • The Parlor– Wood oven pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, salads and more;
  • Mustache Pretzel – Gourmet pretzels, dips and drinks.
  • Postino – bruschetta boards, salads, sandwiches, beer, wine and more.
  • Joyride Taco House –  Tacos, burritos, craft cocktails and more.
  • Tru Burger Co. –Specialty burgers from a local favorite.
  • Original ChopShop – Salads, protein bowls, sandwiches, fresh juices and more.
  • Uberrito Fresh Mex –Burritos, tacos, and more are available at this fresh-Mexican eatery.
  • Phoenix Ale Brewery Central Kitchen – Locally-brewed beer makes,, pub fare, salads, craft beer and more.
  • Leoni’s Focaccia – Sandwiches made with cured Italian meats, focaccia bread, and a variety of cheeses.
  • Ajo Al’s Mexican Café – An Arizona original.
  • Crave Grounds – Fresh donuts with locally-roasted coffees and specialty teas.
  • The Tavern – From Phoenix Chef Mark Tarbell. Salads, sandwiches, burgers, and a variety of entrees.
  • Christopher’s Crush – From James Beard award winner Chef Gross, a local restaurant with a variety of pizzas, salads, entrees, meats and cheeses and more.

Some of the locally-themed retail concepts on the way include:

  • Discover Arizona– Arizona-themed gifts, souvenirs, books and more.
  • Indigenous/Mosaic – Combines two popular Sky Harbor stores. Ceramics, jewelry, artwork, collectibles.
  • Lolli and Pops – Candies, edible items and more.
  •  Travel Outfitters – Luggage and travel accessories from a local store that also has locations in Chandler and Scottsdale.

Some of these new outlets will open in late 2018/early 2019 as part of the Terminal’s new South Concourse. The rest should open when in 2020 when the north concourse renovation is finished. More details here.

 

Gate-delivery service lands at San Diego Int’l Airport

 

You order take-out meals delivered to your home or office, so why not get a meal – or some merchandise – delivered to you while you’re sitting at your airport gate?

That’s the idea behind the app-powered services landing in airports.

Airport Sherpa started doing this last July at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and late last month San Diego International became the second airport in the country where passsengers and airport workers can use an app to order food, drink or merchandise for sale in the airport delivered to them wherever they are in the airport.

At Your Gate did a soft launch of its service in San Diego at the end of January with the company’s three founders joining two employees in making the initial in-airport deliveries to flight attendants, airline employees working gates and ticket counters, ramp break rooms and to a few passengers who caught wind of the program.

The service seemed popular among airport workers right away, with plenty of orders coming in from employee break rooms on Super Bowl Sunday.

Many flight crews with short turn-around times have already ordered food delivered to them at the gates, while at least one airline has set up an account with At Your Gate so they can order food for passengers in the first-class cabin in case the ground catering service doesn’t have time to restock a departing flight.

Another possible application for the app: delivering food to “through” passengers on Southwest Airlines flights who don’t have time on the short connections to get off the plane to buy a snack.

What does it cost?

At Your Gate is currently charging airport and airline employees a $2.99 delivery charge. Passengers in the airport will pay a $6.99 delivery charge when the service officially opens to them next month and there’s discussion of offering unlimited deliveries for a monthly subscription cost.

Sound like a good idea? Let me know what you think.