Stuck at the Airport: PHL +PIT, & some scary galaxies

At PHL: Grab and At Your Gate now partners

It is officially called an ‘integrated food service.’ And it is part of the growing trend of digital food delivery in airports.

But we say it is a ‘this makes perfect sense’ amenity that is one part convenience and two parts sign of the social distance times.

Grab, the e-commerce platform for pre-ordering meals for pick-up from airport food outlets is partnering with AtYourGate, the in-airport food delivery service.

The service rolls out at other airports soon, but the first airport to offer it is Philadephia International Airport (PHL).

Here’s how it works:

Passengers can order food through the Grab app, a special section of the PHL website, or scan Grab QR codes in the terminals. Merchants are searchable by food type and terminal. And orders can be delivered to wherever you are in the terminal.

Convenient, right?

Participating restaurants at PHL include Auntie Anne’s, Bar Symon, Bud & Marilyn’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Chickie’s & Pete’s, Dunkin’, Gachi, Geno’s Steaks, Jack Duggan’s, Jamba, Piattino Pizza, Smashburger, and Vino Volo. 

More merchants will be added soon.

There is a small charge for delivery. But first-time users can use the promo code ‘RUSH’ to save 20% – up to $5 – off their first order.

Roving robots at PIT cuter than ever

In May 2020, Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) introduced its team of autonomous cleaning robots with ultraviolet (UV) light technology.

Since then, other U.S. airports have rolled out cleaning robots. But PIT was the first.

Now PIT is making the hard-working robots even more endearing by giving them eyes.

The robots also have names:

Amelia is named for Amelia Earhart, the famed pilot and female aviation trailblazer.

Orville and Wilbur are named after the Wright brothers.

And the fourth PIT robot is named Rosa. She’s named after Rosa Mae Willis Alford, the sole female mechanic to work on the planes of the famed Tuskegee Airmen.

Travel to a scary galaxy

In the spirit of the Halloween season and the scary, bizarro times, we’re printing out frameable copies of these science-inspired Galaxy of Horrors “travel” posters from NASA’s Exoplanet Travel Bureau.  

The posters look like vintage horror movie advertisements, but they are really out of this world.

Gamma -Ray-Ghouls features a “dead” galaxy. Galactic Graveyard is inspired by an explosive gamma-ray burst caused by colliding stellar corpses. And the third, Dark Matter, is a voyage to the unknown via ever-elusive dark matter.

Bonus: the posters are also available in Spanish: Cementerio GalácticoMateria Oscura, and Demonions de Rayos Gamma.

The posters are free to download and are produced by NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program Office, which is located at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Appleton, WI Airport growing its own food

You may be familiar with the hydroponic garden at O’Hare International Airport.

Planted in 2011, ORD’s blissful garden is tucked into the mezzanine level of the Terminal 3 Rotunda Building, over the Concourse G corridor. The ORD Yoga Room is nearby. ‘

The garden uses no soil or fertilizer. And it looks nothing like your home garden.

Here, the plant roots are suspended in 26 towers that house over 1,100 planting spots. A solution of nutrients is cycled through the towers to feed the plants.

Getting hungry? You’re in luck. Super fresh vegetables and herbs picked from the ORD garden are used in dishes served at a variety of airport restaurants.

Now Appleton International Airport (ATW) in Wisconsin is joining the grow-your-own movement.

ATW now has its own Flex Farm hydroponic farming system to grow fresh greens for sandwiches and burgers served in the airport’s restaurant, the Fox Cities Eatery.

ATW expects to grow up to 300 pounds of fresh produce each year on its indoor farm.

Like the system at ORD, the hydroponic unit at Appleton International Airport uses only water, air, nutrients, and LED lighting to grow plants. No soil, pesticides or herbicides are used.

ATW’s farming project is a collaboration with Green Bay-based Fork Farms, an indoor agriculture technology company that partners with communities to make the process of producing healthy food accessible to the world.

We think this is a great airport amenity and hope other airports give this a try as well.

In a world full of lemons, Reno-Stead Airport hands out asparagus

So many people are out of work right now and not sure how they’ll pay bills.

So it’s encouraging to see Reno-Stead Airport stepping up to help out the Food Bank in its community.

Like many other communities, in just the past two weeks, the food bank in Reno has seen a 30-50% increase in need.

So on Friday, Reno-Stead Airport, the 5,000-acre general aviation facility of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, served as drive-through Mobile Harvest food distribution site to support those affected by COVID-19.

In just a few hours, the drive-through airport food bank served 417 clients, giving each a bag filled with milk, lettuce, tomatoes, apples and asparagus and a dry-goods box of rice, beans, canned goods and peanut butter.

If you hear of other airports helping out their communities in creative ways right now, please let us know so we can share those stories.

Airports: “We’re open”

Restaurants, shops, bars, schools and offices in many communities are closed.

But airports? For now, they’re open.

Although activities in and around the terminals are different, with far fewer passengers and flights than normal.

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) has opened its garages to free parking. And posting a list of which dining, shopping and service locations are open.

Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) has shifted its dining options to take-out and in-terminal delivery service from At Your Gate.

At San Francisco International Airport (SFO), all restaurants are open for now, but many with reduced hours. Bars are closed. And, as with restaurants in many cities, service is take-out only.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is sharing a list of which restaurants remain open for grab-n-go food options.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) have closed the North and South terminal checkpoints.

Here are recent messages from other airports.

As with everything else in the world right now, situations are changing. So if you’re headed to an airport, check ahead.

And, on Wednesday morning, not long after an earthquake was reported near Salt Lake City, the airport tweeted this:

Some airports close or cut back seating areas, restaurants, stores

Airline schedule cuts, the drop in travel and orders in some cities and states to close the dine-in area of restaurants and bars means some airports are cutting back the hours of concessions or closing them altogether.

We’ll likely see more of this in the days to come.

Here’s the start of our list.