Airport Vending Machines Take Flight

More airports are adding multiple vending machines that stock food, beverages, makeup, socks and coats.

December 07, 2018

BURBANK, Calif. – Traveling can be difficult and arduous at times, but more airports are trying to make things just a little bit easier with vending machines. Forgot your socks? There’s a vending machine for that. Need a quick, healthy lunch? You can swipe your card for a salad “jar” from a vending machine.

As sales at airport specialty retail shops has fallen (10% since 2012), vending machines selling everything from salads to coats to socks to makeup are popping up at U.S. airports around the country, the Wall Street Journal reports. For example, the Japanese company Fast Retailing Co. has Uniqlo clothing brand in U.S. airports, selling vests and jackets with a swipe of a credit card.

Vending machines can bring some of the local flavor from town into the airport. For example, at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, local frozen-custard chain Ted Drewes has four custard vending machines. At Pittsburgh International Airport, Arcadia Publishing stocks local neighborhood history books in vending machines.

Other venders tweak the beverage and snack staples. Briggo’s automated coffee kiosks brews customized beverages for passengers, while Farmer’s Fridge offers fresh sandwiches, salads and soups.

These machines provide passengers with 24/7 access while allowing airport officials to add more amenities to their terminals in a relatively small footprint. Airports use the machines to pilot unusual products and fill unused alcoves or corners. “There’s only so many stores you can fit in an airport,” said Elias Bizannes, CEO of ZoomSystems, which operates Best Buy and Benefit Cosmetics vending machines.