I’m Not Digging This Whole Ordering-from-an-App Airport Trend

Let’s face it.  Having tablets across a bar and at individual seats looks cool.

I even ooo-ed over the DCA Terminal A renderings.  (which is the first time I’ve ever ooo-ed over anything Terminal A related).


But I’m not actually a fan of the tablets overall.

I was just at the Voyage Bakery in La Guardia Airport.

Ordering the drink itself was easy.  You just scrolled through the iPad.


You hit the plus sign, then swipe your card in a nearby reader (which took me a little to find).  You are also asked what tip you want to leave up-front.


Then it confirms your order and encourages you to play one of the casino games while you wait.

Eventually, the bartender came by, confirmed, “Rose?”  And dropped off my drink.


That was my entire interaction with the bartender.  By the time my drink came, my order had timed out.  So even though I technically left my tab open, I could not adjust my tip anymore and I could not add anything to my order.  I’d have to reswipe and do it all through a second charge.  (Which isn’t a huge hassle, but made me wonder why it lets you leave your tab open).

But that’s not why I don’t like this style of ordering.

Even though we were all on the same two hour delay, we were all hunched over our video poker, feeling a little miserable, and having a drink to take a little of the edge off.

That feels… sad.

I like going to bars because they are social.  Especially airport bars during delays.   And especially when you are a single traveler.

I enjoy moseying up to the bar, overhearing someone make a comment about the damn delay, complaining about the weather together, and then turning into a conversation about the Cubs’ season.

And the way I’ve found a lot of those conversations threads being linked together is through the bartender interaction.

People rarely turn to each other and start babbling about what flight they are on.  Someone will usually make comments while ordering from the bartender.

“Well, since my flight is on a two-hour delay… keep my tab open.”

“You on the DCA flight?”


etc. etc.

Rather than get a second round, I found a seat and played on my iPad for a while.  Because it’s the social part of a bar I like–even if I’m not in a conversation myself.  I just like being around people.

But everyone playing video poker on tablets did not feel the same.

I know a benefit to these types of devices is being able to check out quickly once it is time to board your flight.  But you can ask to close out when ordering your last drink, even if you plan on lingering at the bar for a while.

How about you?  What do you think about tablet-style ordering in airport bars?

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. A thoroughly hideous approach to “service”. Why even tip when you’re doing all the work? Shouldn’t we be getting a rebate doing 2/3rds a server’s job? Saw these at EWR but passed on any attempt at food or drink, headed back to the UA Club and survived on carrots and crackers. This is an affront to customers. And as you write, quite dehumanizing and anti-social.

  2. But aren’t we always told that millenials crave “self-service” and “personalization”….

  3. Tried it once and not again. Anti social and not worth a tip.

  4. i would tend to agree with you both, have used them now for some yrs. at both DL LGA and MSP. i could see why they work well for more remote seating, or lotsa tables for that matter. but, at a seated by, w/ a bartender, it seems off putting that we order this way – for many of the reasons you mention – then just tell the bartender what i’d like for him/her to suggest a variation (would you like that bloody mary extra spicy, have you tried the new prosecco, would you like a refill…)

  5. I personally love it. I love getting there, ordering my breakfast (I’m not an airport drinking type of person) and enjoying the downtime before I board. It’s super easy to use (unless you are older and are not as familiar with technology). I find with the app ordering system, my food arrives more quickly and more accurately. And guys, you don’t have leave a tip if you don’t want to. I usually leave a nominal tip. I also don’t need the social interaction. I’m usually flying for business, and, maybe because I’m a New Yorker, don’t really like chatting with strangers. I enjoy that leave me the F alone time very much.

  6. I think the tablets are bizarre and a little intimidating. I’ve passed over decent food & drink and a comfortable seat/work station at airports several times because of these things and instead chose to eat an awful sandwich in the waiting area.

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