Tag Archives: Facebook

Frequent Travelers Weigh In On Best Airport Eateries


The Vino Volo at BWI Airport. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

I recently had a discussion with a friend who disparaged the lack of food selections at an airport we won’t name here. That led into a discussion on what airports were doing it right when it came to offering the best food and beverage offerings.

So I decided to tap the knowledge of my friends in my “I Love Sitting In 1st/Biz Class” Facebook group and ask them their favorite eateries.  These are folks who have spent more than their fair share of time in airport restaurants, so I value their opinions.

Mary Kirby of the fabulous Runway Girl Network and I agree on our favorite — Vino Volo, which serves world-class wines by the glass and in educational flights, along with “delicious nibbles, nice environment and usually some access to power outlets.”

Below are thoughts from other group members. Enjoy!

Kristin VanderHey Shaw: This may sound lame, but I really love the Garden State Diner at Newark Liberty. Comfort food at its finest! Rice pudding, omelettes, sandwiches, egg creams. It reminds me of my parents’ hometown in New Jersey.

Martin Rottler: One Flew South at Hartsfield-Jackson for excellent airport food, BBQ in Memphis (worth the connection),  and In & Out LAX because it’s the In & Out at LAX. (Read my review of One Flew South here)

Kevin Schorr: I have to second the vote for Vino Volo but it’s tough to find a seat at the IAD-C Concourse location during the evening push. Le Grand Comptoir at Houston Intercontinental is a nice substitute for Vino Volo.

Micheline Maynard: Cartel Coffee at Phoenix Sky Harbor. And yes, Legal Test Kitchen at Boston Logan. Also, Frontera and Garrett’s Popcorn at Chicago O’Hare.

Mark Adamski: Rick Bayless Tortas at Chicago O’Hare (in T1, T3 and T5) .

Morgan Johnston: I love that I can get my Salt Lick fix in Austin-Bergstrom. And for ambience and plane watching alone, Legends Restaurant & Bar at Long Beach Airport is a good time.

Albert Rodriguez: Anthony’s and Ivar’s at Seattle-Tacoma. Both great, and also popular. We also have a Vino Volo stocked with regional wines.

Jason Chiu: Pappadeux’s lunchtime seafood buffet at Houston Intercontinental. Pig out, then pass out. Not a good combo if you’re working the flight…

Andrew Wimpenny: La Carreta at MIA! Typical Cuban food.

Jeffrey Eslinger: Le Grande Orange in Phoenix Sky Harbor.

Dean Starovasnik: Just ate at Jekyll Island Seafood Co. in Terminal. F at Hartsfield-Jackson, serving actual Jekyll Island shrimp and scallops. They have a distinctively sweet flavor due to the sugar cane-related sea grasses upon which the sea creatures dine. Was impressed they had actually trucked them in the five hours from JI. Nice meal in a still brand spanking new terminal.

Rahsaan Johnson: Legal Seafood at Washington National (and now Boston). Pappadeux at Houston Intercontinental. And the Unnamed Coworker likes Lori’s Diner at San Francisco International. (He likes the grilled tuna and chicken salad sandwich with slaw.)

Jamie Baker: Shake Shack, JFK T4. This thread is now closed.

It’s pretty amazing — I’ve eaten at ALL of these restaurants except for five — Cartel Coffee, Le Grand Orange, Legend’s, Jekyl Island and Lori’s Diner. So what did we miss? What are some of your favorite airport restaurants?

 And for those you you who want to keep up with what I’ve been doing over at About.com, click here to see a roundup of all my posts for April. Enjoy!

Related blog posts on airport restaurants:

Who Else Wants To Sit In First or Business Class?

Me, sitting in a first class seat on an Emirates 777. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

“Don’t hate us because we sit in the front. To quote the great Henry Harteveldt, ‘Turn Left or Turn Around.’ Our reviews and photos of airlines’ 1st and business class products.”

As an aviation journalist and former airline employee, I have been fortunate enough to have been able to sit in some pretty sweet first and business class cabins, both foreign and domestic. We all have our favorites (mine are Qatar Airways foreign and the old Continental Airlines domestic).

From March 2006 to December 2008, I covered the airports beat. Through that beat, I had the chance to meet some really great people whose job it is to fly the world to bring new and expanded service to their airports. One evening after a social gathering, we started talking about the joys of sitting up front. We started comparing our experiences on the world’s airlines.

As a joke, I proposed that we create a Facebook group to share our experiences. So I created “I Love Sitting In 1st/Biz Class.” I told the original group of five people about the page — Kevin Schorr (Vice President, seats); Brian Pratte (Vice President, inflight amenities); Justin Meyer (Vice President, non-obtainable upgrades); Kristin VanderHey Shaw (secretary-treasurer); and Vicki Jaramillo (expert).

But it turned into that old Faberge organic shampoo commercial from the 1970s: …and they told two friends, and they told two friends. And we have some really interesting people in the group, including former New York Times auto/travel reporter Micki Maynard; Ben Mutzabaugh, USA Today’s Today In The Sky columnist; and Wendy Perrin of Conde Nast Traveler (one of my favorite magazines).

So here we are, five years later, with 754 members, always interesting chats on airline amenities and nearly 1,000 photos and videos from people who have been kind enough to share their premium airline experiences.  And Mary Kirby has made the group a part of her wonderful Runway Girl Network,  which offers in-depth news coverage across four key categories: Passenger Safety, Comfort, Connectivity and Services.

So I hope you’ll join us in the group. The more the merrier!!

Aviation Queen Readers Weigh In On Their Not-So-Favorite Airports

Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. Photo courtesy of  Crystian Cruz, via Flickr.

I seem to have touched a nerve with my post last Wednesday on my five not-so favorite airports. It killed me to limit it to five, so my Facebook friends were more than happy to give me gentle reminders — and come up with even more airport nightmares. Enjoy!

Damon Favor: Interesting list. While I agree about CDG having confusing signs, the amazingly long people movers though the tunnels were a hit with my kids, so I guess it’s okay. I’m sure I haven’t been to as many airports as you, but I thought I’d share my most hated airport, IST. There isn’t a single redeeming quality and I could fill a whole post about the horrible experiences that I’ve had there.

Gideon Ewers: With you on Sao Paolo and CDG both festering armpits! I’d also advance LAX (for the transit lounge if nothing else – though I could chuck in RETs that lead directly to another rwy) along with the 3rd world port – I’d add LHR T2 to the late (but not lamented) list. Nor am I ever hog wild about MCO for the arcane international arrival procedures alone…But on the brighter side what about a big up for Charlotte? Now there’s a great mini hub…

Merlisa Lawrence Corbett: Thought Heathrow was a nightmare (lot of construction). Haven’t been in a couple of years, so maybe they’ve fixed it.

Douglas Abbey: One word: Mumbai. The “smoking lounge” would cause even Mother Theresa to recoil in horror.

Benet Wilson: LHR T5 is lovely. The rest, meh. Thank goodness I never went to Mumbai. Jakarta was no picnic either as I recall…

Kevin Bogart: Someone once described (old) CDG to me as a “poured concrete Stalinist fantasy.

Rupa Haria Wincell: Mumbai, Dar es Salaam and Heathrow T3!

Nick Popper: GRU is indeed hideous but let’s not forget Concourses A, C and D at good old IAD! Pretty awful.  And let’s not forget EWR while we’re at it… It’s soooo much more than that! From the immensely confusing internal bus system to the Red Coats with their supremely bad attitude to the general “yougoddaproblemwiddat?” ambience of the place, I avoid it like the plague. Plus being in such close proximity to JFK, LGA and TET it’s a magnet for delays.

Jennifer Michels: The luckily soon to be demolished Worldport at JFK…That little circle of hell trying to get through one narrow passageway to your DL flight…with leaky ceiling…..and Belize Philip Goldson for chaotic line to pay departure tax. Love paying $40 for the privilege of leaving a country.

Andrew Phillips: I would have to rank FRA as one of my least favorites. When connecting from a UK flight to an intercontinental flight, the signs are confusing and getting to the long haul gates is quite the trek even if you manage to follow the signs correctly to get to the tram. If connecting on LH, MUC is my first choice.

And for your reading pleasure, please take a look at some other posts I’ve done on airports.


Travel Things That Make You Go Hmmmm….

Back on Dec. 17, 2012, I wrote a post about a website called Freakjet.com. The website allows travelers to submit photos and musings about the crazy things they see during travel.  As one who has seen more than her fair share of the crazy, I was amused and interested in Freakjet.

Well, it turns out that Freakjet was onto something.  NBCNews.com recently did a story about an explosion of “shaming blogs” created to publicly expose travelers who behave badly.  I thought I had seen some crazy things, but no –  the news story cited the  RantsOfASassyStew.com, the FlightsFromHell.com and what has become a personal favorite, the Passenger Shaming photo page on Facebook.

Looking at the photos, I felt my skin crawl at some of the things people do on airplanes. And I wanted to hunt down the parents of the children who were allowed to put stickers all over seatback trays and even the aircraft walls. And folks — please take your feet off the bulkhead!!  So share! What are some of the horrors you’ve seen on flights?

Looking For Great Aviation Quotes? I Have JUST The Place!

Editor’s note: it’s vacation, day three.  Just picture me sitting on a beach with an iPad (reading a book) in one hand, and a tropical drink, complete with fruit and an umbrella, in another.  Please enjoy this profile I did of Dave English of the  Skygods Great Aviation Quotes website.

Back in the 1990s, I covered the regional and start-up aviation business at the now-defunct Commuter/Regional Airline News.  I used to do special reports and white papers for our subscribers.  I did a roundtable with representatives of all the regional aircraft and engine manufacturers, and I needed to break up some white space.

I had stumbled on Dave English’s Skygods Great Aviation Quotes, and was able to liberally sprinkle that and future reports with citations from his website.  It’s still my go-to place when I’m looking for a quote.

English, an Airbus A320 pilot for a major airline, started the website back in 1995, using Netscape Gold 2.0.   He recalls seeing lists of quotes floating around web lists and he created his own, based on aviation stories he wrote.

“The list took off because people started writing in with contributions.  There were no ads or Google back then,” English recalls.  “I had no idea how big it would become.  I got an email from Len Morgan, a monthly columnist at Flying and the author of several books.  He loved the list and said it should be a book.”

The parent company of Aviation Week, McGraw Hill, published his book, Slipping the Surly Bonds: Great Quotations on Flight, in 1998.  He also wrote  The Air  Up There: More Great Quotations on Flight, in 2003.

“Morgan has passed away, but I owe him a debt of gratitude because he showed how it worked.  Slipping the Surly Bonds was an early version of the website,”says English.  “Since then, people have said more cool and funny things.  The website is now the more complete collection.”

English spent time creating the quote categories, trying to differentiate them to see what worked and what didn’t.  “There was no great taxonomy or philosophical division in creating them.  I cover everything from fighter pilot to airline to space to astronomy quotes,” he explains.  “You can also search by name.  And people using it have helped, because they do corrections and additions.”

How does English decide what makes the cut? “I have to like the quote,” he says.  “There’s no committee or official charter.  If the quote has historical significance or if it seems to encapsulate something important, I include it.”

English normally updates the website when he sees something interesting or someone sends in a quote.  “I can add quotes anytime, ranging from 2-3 times a week up to once a month,” he says. “There’s a Facebook page that works really well and takes care of the spammers.

I asked English to cite his 3 favorite aviation quotes. “There’s a lot of the fun in finding new ones that are revealing and short. One I got a few days ago was from Gov. Rick Perry,” he says.  “At Texas A&M, he wanted to be veterinarian and did his undegrad years in animal science and got grades of Cs Ds and Fs in chemistry. So he said in a speech: ‘Four semesters of organic chemistry made a pilot out of me.’  He became a C130 pilot in the Air Force.”

Second, English says he’s reading  The Hunters, by James Solter, and it’s superb writing. “Solter, talking about taking off and leaving ground, said ‘It was still an adventure, as exciting as love, as frightening.’”

The third one, says English, comes from Mark Twain,’ “The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn’t it be? It is the same the angels breathe,’” he notes.  “Twain had no great knowledge of the stratosphere or to be at 35,000 feet, but you can sense he understood it with that quote.”

So since I asked English for his favorite three quotes, I need to return the favor and do the same:


I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things . . .

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Once you get hooked on the airline business, it’s worse than dope.

— Ed Acker, while Chairman of Air Florida

This is a nasty, rotten business.

— Robert L. Crandall, CEO & President of American Airlines.

So — what are some of your favorite aviation quotes?