Airport Dining Gets an Upgrade

June 2017

As airport security has increased over the past decade, so has the amount of time travelers spend in airports before boarding flights. As a result, consumers are changing the way they think about travel. The airport is more than a stop between point A and point B. It’s part of the travel experience. This means foodservice operators are approaching airport dining differently. Today, offerings are no longer limited to fast food or grab-and-go items.

Travelers have more time to enjoy their meals in airports, so they’re seeking fresh, healthy foods—and they also want options. Airports across the nation are now home to fine-dining establishments and local restaurants. At O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, diners can find an “airport version” of one of the city’s most popular restaurants: Paul Kahan’s Publican Tavern. The menu is the same as that of the original establishment, featuring farm-to-table meals with fresh ingredients from local suppliers. When it comes to the best airport dining, Denver International Airport ranks number one in quality and number two in price and variety, according to the 2017 Airport Dining Scorecard by RewardExpert.

Select airport operators extend the experience by giving travelers a taste of the city they’re visiting, sometimes even before they arrive. Airports are testing iPads that promote certain menu items to diners based on their intended destination. The iPads collect data that help chefs keep track of menu trends, improving inventory counts and helping to decrease food waste.

The foodservice landscape is constantly changing, from upgraded airport food to expanded menu technology. Read more about the latest trends in our Resource Center.


Wilson, Benét J. The Next Evolution of Airport Dining Is Happening Right Now, Eater, June 2016.

Kessler, Jason. One of Chicago’s Best Restaurants Comes to O’Hare, Fly and Dine, August 2016.

Worthington, Danika. DIA has the best airport food in the nation, The Denver Post, March 2017.

Qubein, Ramsey. The Future of Airport Dining Is Now, AFAR, July 2016.

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