Regional Gateway editor Chloë Greenbank summarises the latest happenings across airports serving business, regional and low-fare routes.

The rise in aviation’s low-cost model and the subsequent need for customers to pay extra for services like food and drinks while onboard, has led to passengers increasingly looking for alternative choices when it comes to buying meals or snacks before boarding.

What’s more, with a study last year by travel search engine Kayak revealing that the mark-up for snacks and drinks on some airlines can be a staggering 8,900% more than on the ground, airports are seizing the opportunity to enhance their food and beverage offering.

From 1 August Ontario Airport in California is offering a new service enabling passengers to order from any of its food, beverage and retail concessions online and have them delivered at the airport.

Aptly named AtYourGate, the app, which is already being used by customers at San Diego and Portland airports, aims to deliver “saved time, more choice, and added convenience.”

Saying that he hoped the service will “complement the already great airport experience,” David Henninger, president of AtYourGate, added that it is not just limited to passengers. Flight crews, employees who work at the airport and even family and friends awaiting arriving passengers can order from any of ONT’s concessionaires and have their food delivered directly to them. In addition to gate areas, deliveries are made throughout the airport including ticket lobbies, baggage-claim areas and employee break rooms.

Food and beverage operator SSP has also announced new concessions at two Swedish airports, Umeå and Stockholm Arlanda. SSP’s collaboration with Swedavia includes the launch of the first-ever travel concession for the popular downtown brand Bastard Burgers at Arlanda. And passengers travelling from Umeå can now tuck into Swedish meatballs, shrimp sandwiches and vegan dishes at UME Fika & Bar before taking to the skies.

Meanwhile last month, Manchester Airport in the UK unveiled the first wave of an impressive line-up of food and beverage outlets that will feature in its new “super terminal” being built as part of its £1bn transformation. The list includes a number of iconic brands born-and-bred in the region as well as popular national chains, and is a result of collaborations with food and beverage operators HMS Host, SSP and TRG. The first 15 venues are due to open in the new terminal in 2020.

Gone are the days when airports were desolate places for hungry travellers with a few fast-food pit stops and unappetising pre-made sandwiches. The transformation of the airport foodie scene is giving passengers good reason to arrive early and eat, or at least order food to eat, before they fly.

And we all know that the more time and money spent in an airport by happy passengers equals a happy airport!

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