Monday, August 29, 2016

The Renaissance Begins

I took my first airplane flight, courtesy of the United States Army, in October 1979. It was a great time, the excitement of starting off in a new career, the craziness of air travel, and just being 18 and starting out on your own. 

I don’t remember specifically eating in the airport, or on the layover (most likely at Chicago O’Hare - they used to love to send me there) but we would have had lunch tickets, to be used at a diner contracted by the Department of Defense. I don’t remember ever getting a good meal with lunch tickets. You have to remember, the contract would be awarded to the lowest bidder, and they would scrimp as much as possible to make a profit. 

I do remember over the years eating at different airports, mostly out of desperation or shear boredom during layovers. From what I recall, the food was on a par with bad theme park food of the same time period.

I’m not exactly sure when the improvements in airport terminal dining began, I first noticed it at LAX. I’m not even sure what year. But I noticed that they had a chain restaurant, I think it was Chili’s. I was amazed. 

For me, the beginning of the new trend in airport dining came in September 2008 from the good folks behind a little airline called JetBlue. 

JetBlue endured themselves to our family in January 2005, when we became part of what the airline calls “The Albuquerque Incident.” I won’t go into what happened, but the companies handling of a problem that wasn’t their fault, made us customers for life. 

Sometime in 2006 or 2007 we heard of a plan to build a new terminal at John F Kennedy Airport in New York. They promised it would be a first class facility, like no other at the time. It was called Terminal 5 or just T5.

The new Terminal 5 — located directly behind the old landmarked Terminal 5 designed by Eero Saarinen for T.W.A. in 1962 opened in September 2008. 

The new terminal featured a 10,000-square-foot food hall with nine sit-down restaurants. Some of which featured menus from the finest chefs of New York City’s most popular eateries.

11 years later, I think the idea has caught on.

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