Practical tips: how to skip the line for food or coffee at the airport

I can’t tell you how many times it’s happened to me. I arrive at the airport for an early morning flight, I have 15 or 20 minutes until boarding time after going through security, and I just want to have a cup of coffee.

I walk to the nearest Starbucks or Dunkin’ (yes, it’s usually one of those two for me) along the airport concourse and discover that the line is, in a word, absurd.

Airport restaurants, cafes and retail stores have made great strides since the early days of travel recovering from pandemic shutdowns. However, when you combine the ongoing staffing challenges with the simple fact that many people want a cup of coffee, especially before a morning flight, the waits are long.

The same goes for any popular food or drink spot, although I’ve usually found that coffee shops bear the brunt of those long queues.

Sure, I’ve (sadly) waited in a 25-minute coffee line before, but these days, I found a solution that helps me stay sane in the wee hours of the morning.

Customers line up at a Starbucks at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL). JEFF GREENBERG/UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP/GETTY IMAGES

Tip: Order through the mobile app

My preferred tactic when grabbing a cup of coffee before my flight is to place an order on the Starbucks app.

This would seem like a no-brainer, considering many of the coffee chain’s regulars are well aware of the app and its loyalty rewards. However, it is only in the last few years that we have seen Starbucks implement mobile ordering capability at airports.

If I’m heading to an airport location and see that the line is long, I pull out my phone, find the location I’m standing in front of, and see if they have online ordering available. If so, I will quickly make a mobile order.

At best, and this happens most of the time, I will receive my order much quicker than I would have if I had waited in line. However, at least I can spend my waiting time sitting down and relaxing instead of standing in line with other passengers waiting for their coffee.

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You can also do this at many more places besides Starbucks. From on-the-go ordering through airline mobile apps to mobile ordering capabilities that airports like those featured above in New York and Washington, DC, there are other options if you’re averse to waiting in a long line to get food or drinks while on the go. trip.

Planning ahead helps

Online ordering has helped me get around a line right in front of me. However, you can also use it to order your food or coffee on the go.

If you’ve landed, are disembarking and need a quick bite to eat during a short layover, use your airline or airport app to see which vendors you can pass on your way to your next gate.

If you have a good idea when you’ll be passing by that business, go ahead and schedule a mobile order. You could even do this while waiting in a TSA line, or while on an Air Train from one airport terminal to another.

We all do this sort of thing while traveling in our daily lives, and it’s also becoming more and more of an option at airports.

Bottom line

Long line at the airport cafeteria or takeaway? Order online.

At worst, you’ll be able to sit back and relax while you wait. Best case scenario, you’ll skip the line and have all the snacks you need close at hand before boarding.

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