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TUCK IN,

TAKE OFF

BY DEBRA BANERJEE

T

ravelers are arriving at airports extra early – not just to meet TSA requirements – but to enjoy a good meal before boarding their flights. Across the country, airport restaurants are earning kudos from customers and food critics alike. The national trend toward chef-driven menus and regional and farm-to-table cuisine has also arrived in the formerly barren land of airport terminal cuisine. Passengers have long been hungry for access to freshly prepared, tasty food. The days of settling for a soggy, prepackaged sandwich and an overpriced bottle of water from a nondescript kiosk are over. With TSA’s recommended arrival time of three hours ahead for international flights and two hours for domestic – and oft-delayed

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flights – passengers have a lot of time to kill in the airport. Once you pass the security checkpoint and put your shoes back on, relaxing with a soul-satisfying meal accompanied by fine wine or a cocktail might make that flight to L.A. in the middle seat a little more bearable. The airline industry’s financial crisis after 9/11 prompted U.S. carriers to eliminate complimentary in-flight meal service, leaving passengers scrambling for sustenance. TSA rules regarding liquids and gels make food brought from home iffy and beverages out of the question. That meant paying up for a snack box onboard or shelling out for a more substantial meal in the terminal. These days, more people are taking to the

THE BOCA RATON OBSERVERFEBRUARY 2018

skies thanks to cheap airfares. With increased passenger demand for better amenities, airport managing authorities recognized, in the drive to be competitive, that better restaurants and food service options are a valuable promotional tool. The captive audience of thousands every day made restaurateurs sit up and take notice, too. Through branding, recruiting better restaurants and identifying with their home cities, airports are improving the passenger experience and creating a connection to a distinct place. “The airport is really the doorstep of the community,” Rick Blatstein, CEO of airport hospitality group OTG, told USA Today. “And we think it’s important to con-

Deep Blue Sushi photo courtesy of OTG; One Flew South photos courtesy of Green Olive Media

HIGHPROFILE CHEFS AND REGIONAL FARE ELEVATE AIRPORT RESTAURANTS TO NEW ALTITUDES

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The Authority on Boca & Beyond

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