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Hungry at the Airport? OTG Launches QR Code Ordering for Gate-Side Delivery

OTG is replacing around 21,000 iPads used for self-service food orders with QR codes that passengers can scan with their mobile devices

by Lauren Smith

August 21, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of OTG

Hungry travelers passing through major U.S. airports can now order food and drinks for gate-side delivery from their own devices without downloading an app.

As of August 14, airport concessions operator OTG has begun phasing out the 21,000 iPads it installed for self-service ordering at the 23 airports where it operates restaurants and bars. In their place are QR codes travelers can scan with their smartphones to access menus.

Travelers can order from their phones and pay for their grub with credit cards or Apple Pay. The orders will then be delivered to their gates, so they can chow down without worrying about missing the boarding call for their flight.

At launch, the QR codes will be venue-specific, posted outside each eatery for no-contact ordering. But starting in September, additional QR codes will be posted throughout the airport, connecting travelers to a website displaying menus for every venue in their terminal and allowing them to make orders without straying from their seats.

OTG Vision | Rick Blatstein, CEO from OTGexp on Vimeo.

OTG developed the Flo ordering service in-house at a cost of millions of pounds, CEO Blatstein said. The concessionaire opted to run the service through a website rather than an app, reasoning that few customers travel enough to justify downloading a dedicated app.

The Flo service also supports pre-ordering, debuting at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) next month. Travelers will be able to schedule a pickup at a time of their choosing up to 24 hours in advance, including while they’re still in the air. The pre-ordering feature will be rolled out to additional airports with an OTG presence by November.

Blatstein said pre-ordering will be particularly useful for travelers rushing to make a connection, who might not have time to queue for their coffee.

Photo: Courtesy of OTG

Blatstein told Bloomberg News that smartphone-based ordering was popular among travelers across demographics in beta testing.

“I was at one of our locations two weeks ago and sat across from an older couple. I was so nervous, but they were able to order on their phones like it was nothing,” he said. “It’s intuitive to use for everyone with a phone.”

OTG operates 350 restaurants and bars at 23 airport terminals, including New York JFK, Newark, LaGuardia (LGA), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), and Philadelphia (PHL).