Tag Archives: concessions

Airport Concession Confessions: The Comfort Food Edition

1 May

It’s been awhile since I did a Confessions post.  Plus I’ve done some traveling, and have discovered some new places, so let’s get to it with five of my favorites.

  1. Praline Connection, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.  If you’ve never had a praline (a luscious candy made from cream, sugar and pecans), you are missing a treat.  If you find yourself at the airport, run — do not walk — to the connection and buy some to take home. You won’t regret it.
  2. Nuts on Clark, Chicago Midway Airport. A few years ago, I attended an airport concessions conference in Chicago.  At the end of the conference, we were given a tour — and samples — of the airport’s best. I had the popcorn here and fell in love. No lie – I actually will schedule a stopover at Midway if it works in my travel plans to get this popcorn. They have an outpost at O’Hare too.
  3. Northpoint, General Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee.  I have a friend who lives in the area and recommended I try the custard at this local favorite.  I had the vanilla, and it was so good, I wanted to light up a cigarette — and I don’t even smoke!
  4. Boudin Bakery Cafe, San Francisco International Airport. Whenever I’m leaving the city of my birth, a loaf of Boudin (pronounce it Bo-DEEN) sourdough bread is in my carry-on. But if I have time to eat, I always get the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. De-LISH!
  5. Vino Volo, 12 airport locations.  This is one of my favorite airport concessions of all time.  And one of the reasons (besides the great wine selection) is their small snack plates.  I cannot get enough of the cured olives and the Marcona almonds, which have a lovely hint of rosemary.

Best Of Aviation Queen: Airport Concession Confessions-The Quirky Little Stores Edition

7 Feb

Editor’s note: thanks to a mishap with my ankle that landed me in the emergency room, I didn’t have a chance to write my Tuesday column. So you get a best of, which was originally published on March 31, 2011.  Enjoy!

Regular readers know about my coverage of all things airports for four years.  And by far, my favorite stories were the ones covering concessions in airports.  Back on Jan. 18, I did a post here about great wine stores/restaurants in airports.

In the second of an ongoing series, I’m writing about what I call quirky little stores.  These are my top five stores that may or may not be chains, that just happen to sell very interesting things that I’ve bought in my travels.

  1. Bijoux Terner – the motto for this chain of stores is “Luxury at $10″ – and they are serious.  They sell everything from my beloved pashima scarves (I have 12 so far) to watches to jewelry to handbags and hats — all for $10.  I’ve bought: a lovely pink silk beaded handbag/clutch with a pearl handle; a green beaded glass necklace/earring set; a red watch with a giant face; and those pashimas!
  2. Lush – I first discovered Lush in a small shop in London’s Covent Garden. The store specializes in handmade soaps, cosmetics, bath/shower products and hair/skin care products. The company has a shop across from the Food Court, pre-security, in Orlando International Airport.  My favorites are the Twilight Lavender bath bomb and Red Rooster and Sea Vegetable soaps.  Check out the Up Up & A Gay blog for his take on Lush.
  3. Stars of San Antonio – this outpost in Terminal A at San Antonio International Airport has a great selection of gourmet hot sauces that I’ve added to my collection.  They also sell Armadillo Droppings, which is the Texas answer to Louisiana pralines.
  4. Renaissance Book Shop – no offense to the usual chain bookstores in airports, but I just love this outpost at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport.  They have a huge selection of used books, and I dare you to not find what you need.  The staff is friendly and helpful, and no one looks askance at you if you linger and read a book to pass the time.
  5. Creative Kidstuff — this store in Salt Lake City International Airport has one of the best selections of children’s toys and games I’ve ever seen.  Most of what they sell is educational fun items, and they don’t mind if your children touch the merchandise.

Best Of: My Top 10 Favorite Airport Concessions

27 Dec

Editor’s note: kids, Aunt Benet is taking the week off to enjoy the holidays with the family. So please enjoy these best ofs this week.  Happy Holidays!!

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of judging a contest put on by Airports Council International-North America to vote on the best airport concessions, covering food/beverage, retail and services. I wish I could tell you the winners, but if I told you, I’d have to kill you.

Having spent time in hundreds of airports worldwide (and I have the pictures to prove it), I know what I like and what I don’t.  Below are 10 concessions, in no particular order, that I love to see in airports.

  1. BWI Airport Vino Volo All photos by Benet J. Wilson

    Vino Volo: OK, I lied. This has to be my favorite concession, hands down.  It’s good wine, small plates of food and a quiet oasis with plenty of outlets.  What’s not to love, kids? I was at the grand opening of the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport opening back in April 2007 (check out my Towers and Tarmacs post here).

  2. Bijoux Terner: this store features clothing, hats, jewelery and other accessories, all priced at $10.  I’m a BIG fan of their pashimas and funky necklace/earring sets.
  3. XpresSpa: once at an airport conference, this company set up a full-service spa in the middle of the exhibition floor. Every day I was there to get a service, like a foot rub, a manicure or a massage. Pure genius!
  4. Salt Lick Barbecue: my family is from Texas, and one of the best barbecue restaurants in the state is this one.  They have outposts at Austin-Bergstrom International and Will Rogers airports, and the smell is just divine!!
  5. Renaissance Book Shop, Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport: this is not your normal bookstore. They carry a great mix of new and used titles. Be careful-you could easily miss your flight browsing its extensive selection!
  6. DFW Airport Samsung Lounge

    Samsung Mobile Travel Lounge: I went on a tour of DFW Airport and stumbled on these.  They look like airline clubs and feature outlets, desks, flight monitors and televisions.  There are some ads for Samsung products, but it’s not offensive.

  7. Pet Parks, Phoenix-Sky Harbor International Airport: located in Terminals 2, 3 and 4, they offer a grassy area, mitts and bags to pick up poop and a watering station.
  8. Creative Kidstuff: I have a five-year-old daughter, and I like to get her unusual toys. My favorite airport toy store is this outpost at Salt Lake City International Airport. And they don’t mind if your kids touch the merchandise!
  9. La Carreta, Miami International Airport: I went to college with a bunch of Cubans, who introduced me to their food and coffee. I’ve never looked back.  And when I’m at the airport, I go straight here to get my coffee, my Cuban press sandwich and Lechon Asado. Mmmmm…..
  10. Nuts on Clark: I will not lie-I have routed myself on Southwest flights through Chicago Midway Airport so I can stop and get some of this addictive popcorn.  It comes in regular, cheese and caramel, and its to die for, kids.

Rolling Aviation Thoughts

14 Dec

OK, kids, we’re trying out a new feature.  I always have these crazy aviation/airline thoughts floating in my head or links to other random stuff that isn’t big enough for a full blog post, but is still worth pointing out.  So Wednesday (a day I usually don’t post) is now Rolling Aviation Thoughts.  And they don’t have to be only mine.  If you want to join in the fun, drop your thoughts to me via email (benet AT aviationqueen DOT com) or Twitter. Enjoy!

  • The day I found out I was being laid off from Aviation Week, I had just finished judging Airports Council International-North America’s (ACI-NA) annual concessions awards program.  Well, the winners were announced here.
  • I flew in Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic back in the late 1990s.  I thought providing inflight massages and manicures to Upper Class passengers was a great idea.
  • The airport geek in me wishes she could go to this great exhibit — Now Boarding: Fentress Airports + The Architecture of Flight – at the Denver Art Museum.
  • If, for some reason, I was told I had to move away from the United States and live elsewhere, it would be Brazil — probably in Rio de Janeiro or Salvador.

So — what’s on your mind for next week?

TAG – You’re It In DFW Airport’s New Holiday Marketing Campaign

21 Nov

Back when I covered the airports beat, I always enjoyed getting story pitches from Dallas/Fort Wort International Airport.  Their pitches were always well thought out, they always got you access to the executives you needed to speak with and, most importantly, they respected a deadline.

Last week I got a pitch via Twitter on a new marketing campaign designed to offer travelers discounts at the airport’s food/beverage and retail outlets using Microsoft Tags.  Megan Bozarth, DFW’s manager of consumer marketing, says the airport found that passengers were getting there earlier because they weren’t sure about the timing for ticket and security checkpoint lines.

Photos courtesy of DFW Airport

“We saw a lot of people sitting at gates on their smartphones,” Bozarth recalled.  “So we did some marketing research and found that 85% of passengers at DFW use smartphones.  We wanted to figure out how to utilize that technology and provide information to passengers in a non-intrusive way.”

DFW did the research and chose Microsoft Tags over QR Codes or other tag technology, said Bozarth.  “We knew there was a lot available.  For us, tags are highly customizable and use colors, while  QR codes are pretty standard,” she states.  “And tags provided us the most robust analytics, including where passengers scan the tags, what offers they loaded and if they redeemed them.”

The information DFW is providing through the scans that are non intrusive, says Bozarth.  ” Passengers can be in control of the information they want by scanning the tags,” she explained.  “They get offers from the concessionaires  near their gates.  We see it as an unexpected gift for DFW holiday travelers and a way to  spread holiday cheer.”

DFW has 270 concession outlets and currently, 50 are participating in the tag program, says Bozarth.  Vendors include Starbucks, Auntie Anne’s, Papcitos, the FOX News Channel news stand and the La Bodega winery, one of my personal favorite airport outlets ( my review of it, posted on Jan. 18,  is here).

The current offers will last through the end of the year, says Bozarth.  “Then we’ll ask concessionaires again when we do our next campaign in 2012.”

My Top 10 Favorite Airport Concessions

6 Oct

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of judging a contest put on by Airports Council International-North America to vote on the best airport concessions, covering food/beverage, retail and services. I wish I could tell you the winners, but if I told you, I’d have to kill you.

Having spent time in hundreds of airports worldwide (and I have the pictures to prove it), I know what I like and what I don’t.  Below are 10 concessions, in no particular order, that I love to see in airports.

  1. BWI Airport Vino Volo All photos by Benet J. Wilson

    Vino Volo: OK, I lied. This has to be my favorite concession, hands down.  It’s good wine, small plates of food and a quiet oasis with plenty of outlets.  What’s not to love, kids? I was at the grand opening of the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport opening back in April 2007 (check out my Towers and Tarmacs post here).

  2. Bijoux Terner: this store features clothing, hats, jewelery and other accessories, all priced at $10.  I’m a BIG fan of their pashimas and funky necklace/earring sets.
  3. XpresSpa: once at an airport conference, this company set up a full-service spa in the middle of the exhibition floor. Every day I was there to get a service, like a foot rub, a manicure or a massage. Pure genius!
  4. Salt Lick Barbecue: my family is from Texas, and one of the best barbecue restaurants in the state is this one.  They have outposts at Austin-Bergstrom International and Will Rogers airports, and the smell is just divine!!
  5. Renaissance Book Shop, Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport: this is not your normal bookstore. They carry a great mix of new and used titles. Be careful-you could easily miss your flight browsing its extensive selection!
  6. DFW Airport Samsung Lounge

    Samsung Mobile Travel Lounge: I went on a tour of DFW Airport and stumbled on these.  They look like airline clubs and feature outlets, desks, flight monitors and televisions.  There are some ads for Samsung products, but it’s not offensive.

  7. Pet Parks, Phoenix-Sky Harbor International Airport: located in Terminals 2, 3 and 4, they offer a grassy area, mitts and bags to pick up poop and a watering station.
  8. Creative Kidstuff: I have a five-year-old daughter, and I like to get her unusual toys. My favorite airport toy store is this outpost at Salt Lake City International Airport. And they don’t mind if your kids touch the merchandise!
  9. La Carreta, Miami International Airport: I went to college with a bunch of Cubans, who introduced me to their food and coffee. I’ve never looked back.  And when I’m at the airport, I go straight here to get my coffee, my Cuban press sandwich and Lechon Asado. Mmmmm…..
  10. Nuts on Clark: I will not lie-I have routed myself on Southwest flights through Chicago Midway Airport so I can stop and get some of this addictive popcorn.  It comes in regular, cheese and caramel, and its to die for, kids.

Best of Aviation Queen: Airport Concession Confessions-The Wine Edition

4 Aug

Editor’s note: I’m in Philadelphia this week attending the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention. I won’t fool myself into thinking I’ll actually post this week since I’m presenting and hosting several other side events. The post below first appeared on my blog on Jan. 11, 201.  Enjoy!!

I covered the airports beat for almost four years.  There was never a dull moment, and among my favorite stories to write were about concessions in the airport.

Remember the old days when most airports’ concessions consisted of “restaurant,” “snacks,” and “news stand?”  Well, those days are over, for most airports, anyway.  The light bulb went on and airports realized that they had a captive audience that had time to kill and was willing to spend money to pass the time away.  I’m a big wine fan, and several of the  dozens of airports I’ve visited have some great wine concepts. Below are four of my favorites. I’ll share more of my favorite concessions, by category, in the coming months.

  1. Vino Volo – what a perfect concept.  Drink world-class wines by the glass or a flight, eat savory snacks and sit at a roomy table with an outlet. What’s not to love? And bonus-you can buy their wines by the bottle and take them with you to your final destination.

  2. Vintage Washington Wine Bar – this is a nice little oasis at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.  I like ths place because it showcases Oregon and Washington state wines.
  3. La Bodega Winery - my family is from Texas, and they are quite fond of Texas wines.  They’ve become a favorite for me too.  And this little slice of paradise at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is a favorite for me.  And don’t worry-if you’re scared to try Texas wines, they have a great selection of wines from around the world.
  4. Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar - I had an unexpectedly long layover once in Philadelphia International Airport when one of my fellow passengers told me about this place.  It has a great wine selection by the glass and some really great bistro food.

Airport Concession Confessions: The Full-service Restaurant Edition

5 May

We are in the third in a series of my obsession with airport concessions.  We’ve already done Wines and Quirky Little Stores.  I commend airports for really stepping up their game in the restaurant category.  So below are my top five airport restaurants:

  1. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

    Revolucion, JetBlue JFK Airport Terminal 5:  Back in August 2009, I did a post on Aviation Week’s Towers and Tarmacs blog on Revolucion.  In December 2009 during a long layover at T5, I had the chance to eat there — and it was divine.  They serve authentic Mexican food, as opposed to chain restaurants like Chevy’s.  I had the homemade guacamole and shrimp tacos.  Servers are more than happy to pack up your food for the flight, but I’d suggest doing that for the cold items.

  2. Enrique’s, Ponca City Regional Airport, Oklahoma: In 2002, I was working on securing Essential Air Service contracts in seven cities, including Ponca City.  We went for a town tour, then we got back to the airport, which was packed.  But it wasn’t for people flying. It was for the food at Enrique’s, which is the airport’s restaurant.  I still dream about the tortilla chips and salsa, and the go-to dish there is Chicken Huarrache (sp).
  3. Paschals Restaurant, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: I’m not from the South, but my parents are.  I grew up eating the food of the South, including fried chicken, grits, fried catfish, mac and cheese and collard greens.  Paschals makes me long for my mother’s cooking.
  4. Obrycki’s, Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport: those of us in Baltimore love our Maryland blue crabs and are very loyal to our restaurants.  Obrycki’s has been an institution in Baltimore since 1944, and they bring that to the airport.  The crabcakes and deviled crab balls are a must-try if you don’t want to wrestle with crabs.
  5. Café Versailles, Miami International Airport: this airport outlet of a popular Cuban restaurant sells the quintessential hot Cuban pressed sandwich.  Wash it down with a cup of café con leche and you’d swear you were in Havana!!

Top Posts For AviationQueen.com In March

5 Apr

First, I have to thank you,  my loyal readers, for making March my most successful month ever.  According to my WordPress Site Stats, I had 5,188 views during the month.  And this was a month when I didn’t blog for a week after battling an upper respiratory infection.

The top story in March was on the 29th, my first-ever product review: Lo & Sons’ Travel Tote, with 271 views.  My other top posts are below.

Airport Concession Confessions-The Quirky Little Stores Edition

31 Mar

Regular readers know about my coverage of all things airports for four years.  And by far, my favorite stories were the ones covering concessions in airports.  Back on Jan. 18, I did a post here about great wine stores/restaurants in airports.

In the second of an ongoing series, I’m writing about what I call quirky little stores.  These are my top five stores that may or may not be chains, that just happen to sell very interesting things that I’ve bought in my travels.

  1. Bijoux Terner – the motto for this chain of stores is “Luxury at $10″ – and they are serious.  They sell everything from my beloved pashima scarves (I have 12 so far) to watches to jewelry to handbags and hats — all for $10.  I’ve bought: a lovely pink silk beaded handbag/clutch with a pearl handle; a green beaded glass necklace/earring set; a red watch with a giant face; and those pashimas!
  2. Lush, Orlando International Airport All Photos by Benet J. Wilson

    Lush – I first discovered Lush in a small shop in London’s Covent Garden. The store specializes in handmade soaps, cosmetics, bath/shower products and hair/skin care products. The company has a shop across from the Food Court, pre-security, in Orlando International Airport.  My favorites are the Twilight Lavender bath bomb and Red Rooster and Sea Vegetable soaps.  Check out the Up Up & A Gay blog for his take on Lush.

  3. Stars of San Antonio – this outpost in Terminal A at San Antonio International Airport has a great selection of gourmet hot sauces that I’ve added to my collection.  They also sell Armadillo Droppings, which is the Texas answer to Louisiana pralines.
  4. Renaissance Book Shop – no offense to the usual chain bookstores in airports, but I just love this outpost at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport.  They have a huge selection of used books, and I dare you to not find what you need.  The staff is friendly and helpful, and no one looks askance at you if you linger and read a book to pass the time.
  5. Creative Kidstuff — this store in Salt Lake City International Airport has one of the best selections of children’s toys and games I’ve ever seen.  Most of what they sell is educational fun items, and they don’t mind if your children touch the merchandise.
  6. Drugs & More, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

    BONUS! Drugs & More — this shop at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has all the over-the-counter drugs, cosmetics and other sundries you may need.  It’s located pre-security in the center of Terminal 4, right near the food court.

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