App Review: Grab Airport Food Ordering
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Here at The Points Guy, we’re all about reducing the time spent waiting in lines in the airport. Sure, you can get a card like the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard for priority check-in and boarding, CLEAR and TSA PreCheck for expedited security and Global Entry to fast-track through immigration, but how can you save time ordering food? By downloading the app Grab.
Grab is a mobile app which allows you to order and pay for your food from your phone and then skip the line to pick it up. It’s currently available at 21 airports, including Atlanta (ATL), London Heathrow (LHR) and Los Angeles (LAX), with plans to open at others such as New York (JFK) and San Francisco (SFO).
This isn’t the first app to offer mobile food ordering at the airport. There was AirGrub, which had a similar business model as Grab, but that went out of business in 2016 — just two years after launching. There’s also Airport Sherpa, which offers both food and retail ordering, as well as at-gate delivery, though that app is currently only available at one airport: Baltimore-Washington (BWI).
How It Works
Being a fan of using my phone to make travel experiences easier, I decided to give the app a try before my flight out of Los Angeles. Note, while I used the actual app for this review, if you’re the type of person that does not like clustering your phone with many apps, you can also use Grab at select airports via the American Airlines app.
On my way to the airport, I used the app to search what restaurants are participating. You can browse through the selection either as a list or as a map.
You also have the option of filtering restaurants based on location and type of food.
Although retail stores are included in the directory, they aren’t available for mobile ordering yet; this is a feature Grab hopes to add eventually.
With detailed menus and the option to include special requests, the ordering process was pretty straightforward. I ended up going with an acai bowl from Earthbar in Terminal 5.
Prior to completing the checkout process, there was a page saying how long it would take to prepare my order. Since I wanted to hold off from placing my order until I was in line for security, I was glad to find an option to hold my order to submit later.
Once I placed my order, I was offered turn-by-turn walking directions to the restaurant.
Despite a 5-10 minute estimate on my order being ready, I was pleased to find that my order was, in fact, ready for pickup when I arrived after just four minutes. I was presumably the only Grab customer at the time since the employee immediately handed me my order after I said that I ordered through Grab.
Although there wasn’t a line at the time of my visit, I could imagine it feeling awkward “cutting” it to pick up my order if that weren’t the case. There was no designated pickup area for Grab customers or any signage indicating that the restaurant even participates in the program.
I paid for the order using my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card so I would earn 3x points for my dining purchase. Best of all, Grab doesn’t charge consumers any fees for ordering through the app. Worth mentioning, the app has Concur integrated, making it especially convenient for business travelers to report expenses.
Interestingly, although I was asked to review the restaurant after I completed my order, there was no option to read reviews prior placing my order, so that’s a feature I’d definitely like to see added. Also, while this is a bit of a long shot, I think it would be neat to have a way of redeeming airline meal vouchers through the app.
Grab is working hard to quickly increase the number of airports where it’s available — in the coming month, they will add Phoenix (PHX) in the US and Manchester (MAN) and Birmingham (BHX) in the UK. It will also be expanding coverage in its existing US hubs such as DFW and MIA. Besides that, Grab is working with the startup AtYourGate, to begin offering at-gate delivery — starting with San Diego (SAN). Once at-gate delivery and retail offerings are added, Grab and Airport Sherpa will be practically identical, but Grab will have the advantage of the larger footprint.
Overall, Grab makes ordering food at the airport quick and easy. While I don’t find myself waiting in lines to order food at the airport too often, I could see this app coming in handy if I’m ever hoping to grab a bite during a tight layover. It can also be very helpful for flight crews and employees working at the airport who have to face these lines on a regular basis.
All photos by the author.
Would you try out an app like Grab? Let us know in the comments below.
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