There are a few bright spots in what’s been a challenging 18 months for the U.S. and the world, and I like to focus on the positive where I can. In many places there’s been less traffic. Telemedicine means no longer having to spend time waiting in a doctor’s office. “To go” cocktails when picking up from restaurants let you enjoy a craft cocktail along with your meal.
Curbside pickup from the best restaurants is great, too. You’re no longer limited to “takeout places” or those that sign up with DoorDash or UberEats. I’ve never once said, though, what I really want for dinner is what they’re serving at the airport.
That’s because the constraints of selling food in the airport – bringing everything through security, usually cooking with electricity, lacking storage space, high rents and a need to serve the median consumer taste quickly – means that airport restaurants are bad. And you pay through the nose for the privilege.
Still, at Philadelphia airport they think you might want curbside pickup of your dinner from the airport, and they’re now set up to do just that.
🎉 Curbside Pickup Program! 🎉
Curbside is perfect for an easy meal on-the-go or if you need a pick-me-up while you wait for your passenger to get off their flight. Visit https://t.co/L7H6LuqlFu, select 'delivery', select 'non-terminal', & choose 'Term E-Curbside pickup' pic.twitter.com/gNZOadr7v5
— PHL Food & Shops (@PHLFoodandShops) October 4, 2021
The idea is framed as letting “suburbanites…enjoy Bud and Marilyn’s without having to go into the city.”
This is an extension of the Grab app. For readers in Asia, this isn’t the ridesharing company, but the airport food pre-order service. In Philadelphia you can order from airport restaurants and they’ll bring the food to your waiting vehicle outside the terminal.
I find the app to be indispensable for its traditional use. Lines at airport restaurants that are open are long on peak days and times, and on quick connections there’s often not enough time to wait. For all the limitations of airport cuisine I know I won’t get anything edible on board. So I fire up the phone and pre-order food when my inbound flight taxis to the gate, and collect it on the way to my connection.
Before the pandemic I expected to see Grab integrated into the Priority Pass app. Food delivery to a club lounge is actually a nice idea, and something that used to be offered at the old US Airways club at Washington’s DCA.
To go food, where you’re eating it on the plane, in the car, or bringing it home to your dinner table, isn’t a replacement for the restaurant experience. Fortunately there’s a handful of airports that will allow you to go through security to eat a meal even when you’re not flying. And when you’re not staring down a connecting flight, you might just have time to sit down and eat.