IT WAS the tech experiment that took off. Free iPad access in major international airports that allows you to check your flight’s status, use Facebook, check emails and even order your food to be delivered to you while you wait.
That’s right, you can sit at the departure gates, logon to a complimentary iPad and order your meal to be delivered to you AT THE GATES.
American food and beverage operator OTG paid $50 million to remake the Delta terminals at New York’s LaGuardia, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Toronto Pearson airports. Re-designing the airports with iPads, customers were able to order customised meals prepared fresh and served within 15 minutes or less.
So is this the ultimate in laziness or is it enhancing the travel experience?
While it’s good to stretch the legs before a long-haul flight, the system does have its perks. No trawling through depressing food courts, no “get to the gate” anxiety, no missing your flight or your name being called for standby.
Launched in 2012 with 2500 iPads, the number was increased to 7000 at the end of last year following the service’s increasing popularity. CEO of OTG, Rick Blatstein, told the New York Times that he was intrigued by the revenue potential of all that space at the boarding gates, previously filled with people with nothing to do but wait.
Delta and OTG found that the devices allowed them to serve travellers with “gate anxiety” — a preference for waiting by the gate instead of wandering through the terminal and shopping.
With the iPads, travellers can still sit near the gate but order food or products from their seats and have them delivered. “If that’s where they like to be, let’s create an experience there,” said Gail Grimmett, senior vice president for Delta in New York speaking to the New York Times .