helps take the unknown out of airport food

Finding a decent meal at the airport is always a gamble. I suspect my ratio for good airport food is one good meal for every ten bad ones. For some reason, the airport environment seems unable to cook anything that doesn’t taste like baked shoe.

A new online resource is determined to help change that – is a repository of airport dining reviews, and currently covers 409 different eateries.

Each entry provides a photo (when available), pricing, location, opening hours, whether they are kid friendly, and whether they sell alcohol. Users can add their own reviews to the location, and rate them on their taste, ambiance, cleanliness and service. Best of all, reviewers can add their own tips, recommending (for or against) certain dishes.

As of this morning, there are 104 reviews on the site, but over time that should grow nicely – especially if travelers take the time to add their own reviews. Click here to visit the site, and read some of the reviews – then, next time you fly and eat at the airport, add your review and help fellow passengers.

Healthy travel: a tip list

You can never have too much travel advice, in my opinion. You can have bad travel advice, but the folks at online travel news site eTurboNews have compiled a great list of tips designed to help you keep your arteries unclogged and your spine in alignment while you fly or road-trip this summer. Nothing new or ground-breaking, but definitely worth repeating.

Part of the list is dedicated to finding more nutritious alternatives to fatty, sodium-laden airport and airline fare. Since childhood, I’ve possessed a deep phobia of airline food, so I’ve always brought my own in-flight meals. Now that tight-fisted domestic airlines are depriving passengers of even a bag of pretzels, all the more reason to hit the grocery store the day before you travel. If you frequently travel last-minute, make sure you keep a stash of healthy snacks, such as unsweetened dried fruit, granola bars, or nuts in the pantry so you can grab-and-go.

There’s good advice, too, on little things you can do to avoid tweaking your back or neck, and preventing those unsightly varicose veins. I would add that deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a much more serious, life-threatening issue on long-haul flights. Get up once an hour and take a lap around the plane, and move your legs by doing some stretches in your seat. Happy, unbloated, limber travels!


Gadling app review – GateGuru for the iPhone helps you find and rate airport amenities

I’m a huge fan of any iPhone app that can help make my time at the airport more enjoyable. GateGuru is such an app. Think of GateGuru as an online airport guide meets Yelp, meets social networking.

The basic concept behind GategGuru is that it can help you find amenities at the airport. Its list is extremely comprehensive. When you start the app, it uses your current location to pick the closest airport (or the airport you are at right now). Obviously, you can manually select airports if you need information on an upcoming trip or segment.

Once in an airport selection, you simply pick the terminal (for multi-terminal airports), then you are presented with a list of all the amenities. As I mentioned – the list is fantastic. You’ll find the common stuff like restaurants and shops, but also ATM’s, mailboxes, computer charging stations and frequent flier lounges. You can also narrow down the results by selecting food, shops or services as your search category.

You can search for these locations by name, and by gate, as each of the entries describes exactly where you’ll find it. So, if you are sitting at gate B11, you can enter the gate number, and find exactly what it around you.

Once in an entry, you can view its location, (available) photo, rating, category and any user submitted reviews. That user submission portion of the app is one of its best features, and a sure way to kill some time at the airport. Just had a bad beer at the airport bar? Rate the establishment from inside the app, and share it with the world. Found an awesome eatery? Describe what made it so cool, and help fellow travelers.
If you find an amenity that isn’t listed in GateGuru, you can add it. The screen for adding stuff is easy to navigate, and all you need to provide is its location, category, name and whether it is pre-security or not.

The social network portion of the GateGuru shares what you do from inside the app. So, if you view an entry, or update a rating, it’ll submit that action to Twitter and/or Facebook. If you’d rather not share this information, you can enable and disable it with just one click. Every time you rate something, you earn points – and those points are displayed in a “high flyer’ ranking – this of course helps turn the whole thing into a fantastic competition, and should ensure the app gets even more people submitting worthy reviews and ratings.

The only feature I really could use is a graphical map of the airport, and a way to determine the time/distance to the location I selected.

GateGuru is just $1.99, and as with most iPhone apps, it is really well designed. Even if you don’t want to participate in the rating/review portion, your two bucks gets you a very comprehensive airport guide.You can learn more about the app on the site of the developer, or you can jump right to the app store and purchase it, I can highly recommend adding it to your “must have” collection of iPhone travel apps.


Iron Chef Morimoto working on skewered airport food

Celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto has partnered with a restaurant operator to bring a new Asian inspired food concept to US airports.

The concept is called Skewers, and it will feature a variety of meat and vegetables on…skewers, of course.

The meals will be served with rice bowls, and the idea is that this dish is highly portable and easy to bring on board your flight.

The skewered dishes are called Yakitori, and prices will range between $4.50 and $16.95. Morimoto predicts that Yakitori will be the next big wave, and fully expects it to be very popular.

Personally, I welcome any new food to the airport – we’ve had to deal with bad pizza and stale sandwiches for too long, though I do worry that this new food may be a tad aromatic. I really hate it when people bring strong smelling food on the plane (unless they bring enough for everyone). I also hope the TSA has no objection to wooden skewers. As of right now, no locations or dates have been announced for these new restaurants.


Layover: Seattle

Despite being the largest airport in the Pacific Northwest and serving as the hub for Alaska Airlines,(and its subsidiary, Horizon Air) Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport is surprisingly easy to navigate. Airport Revenue News honored it with the Best Overall Concessions award, and it does offer some great restaurants and shopping to keep you busy on a short layover.

If your plane isn’t delayed on arrival (as is often the case due to heavy cloud cover) and you have a longer layover, you can hop a 30-minute bus from the airport to downtown and spend your time exploring the “Emerald City”. You can even store your carry-on luggage at the airport.

Short Layover (2 hours)
You’re pretty much confined to the airport with a short layover, but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to spending your time face-down in a mug of beer at the airport bar…unless of course you want to be. If that’s the case, there are choices in every concourse, from beer at the Seattle Taproom to wine at Vintage Washington to margaritas at Case del Agave. You’ve got plenty of options for food too – full-service, casual, or to-go. Anthony’s Restaurant and Ivar’s Seafood Bar, downtown Seattle favorites, both have outposts at the airport and local celebrity chef Kathy Casey offers fresh-made sandwiches and salads with local ingredients at Dish D’Lish.

If shopping is more your thing, there are a few stores worth checking out. In addition to browsing the standard Borders Books and Hudson News, you can wander over to the Made in Washington store for last-minute Seattle souvenirs and Pacific Northwest food products or pop into Discovery Channel to play with educational games and toys.

Got work to do? Charge your cell phone for $3, or get online for $7.95 (for a 24-hour pass). If you’re too stressed out, you can relax with a massage, manicure or pedicure for very reasonable rates.

Longer layovers (4 or more hours)
With a little more time, you can spend your layover in downtown Seattle. The express bus, #194, departs from the airport every 15 minutes or so and takes about half an hour to reach downtown. If your layover is on the short end, it’s best to stick close to the bus stop and limit your exploration to a stroll through Pike Place Market, but if you have more time, you can see most of the major sites in the city in one afternoon. Here are some of the highlights.

Pike Place Market
Combine lunch and sight-seeing with a visit to Pike Place Market. This hundred-year old farmer’s market sells plentiful fresh produce and cheap, colorful flower arrangements, but there’s so much more to it than that. In a matter of minutes you’ll pass by countless stalls of fruit and vegetables, handmade jewelry, organic soaps, local honey, and fresh seafood. And that’s just in the main market. Wander down to the arcade and you’ll see antiques, comics, and magic supplies, and across the street you’ll find an olive-oil boutique, jerky shop, a Piroshky seller, wine shop, French bakery, truffle cafe, crumpet shop, and cheese-maker. The Market is also home to the original Starbucks and the Pike Place Fish Market, where the fishmongers famously throw fish around whenever an order is placed.

Pioneer Square
The oldest part of Seattle, Pioneer Square is an historic district with lots of art galleries, and plenty of vagrants. The square is part of the downtown “Ride Free” zone where buses are free, and it’s just a short ride from the rest of downtown. The big attractions here are the Smith Tower (which is much shorter than the Space Needle, but costs less and provides a different view), and the Underground Tour, a fascinating hour-long tour of the city-beneath-the-city. When the majority of Seattle was burned in 1889, a new city was built of stone and brick on top. The tour, which nearly always sells out in high-season, takes visitors underground and gives them a unique look at Seattle history.

Seattle’s waterfront is admittedly kitschy. It’s from here that sightseeing cruises depart and there are always tons of tourists milling about, coming and going from the Aquarium and Waterfront Arcade, and browsing in souvenir shops. But the views of Puget Sound really are something to see, and there are some great restaurants scattered further north towards Pier 70 (which was the pier the Real World kids lived on way back when and now houses the Waterfront Seafood Grill). A trolley runs the length of the waterfront, up to the new Olympic Sculpture Park.

Monorail, Seattle Center, and Space Needle
From downtown, you can take a bus or the waterfront trolley (or even walk about 20 minutes) to the Seattle Center, but for a more memorable ride, try the Monorail. The Monorail was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and, when it’s not being repaired after another crash or break-down, it ferries passengers on a 1-mile ride from Westlake Mall to the Center. The Seattle Center, the downtown area’s main park, is home to the Pacific Northwest Ballet, several theaters, the Children’s Museum, Pacific Science Center, and the Space Needle. To see the 360-degree views of Seattle, Puget Sound and its islands, the Olympic Mountains, and Lake Union, you’ll need to pay $16 for adults. But if you have the time and money, you can enjoy a meal in the revolving restaurant, Sky City. Like most observation-deck dining establishments, it’s expensive and the food is just a touch above average, but the views are spectacular.