Airport Automation: The Kiosk Takeover

By Belinda Clarke, March 8, 2019

If you are a frequent traveler, you’ve no doubt noticed a spike in the number and variety of automated vending machines lining the halls of airports nationwide. Like virtually all technologies, vending machines are seeing an evolution. Not so much in how they actually work, but what vendors are filling them with to appeal to today’s culture of convenience.


Best Buy

Best Buy can be credited with one of the first players in the travel vending machine game, launching its first airport kiosks, 12 in total, a decade ago. Today, Best Buy operates kiosks in more than 50 U.S. airports, from Los Angeles to New York. Most airports have anywhere between two and 12 machines. The machines sell up to 50 products, including traveler musts such as phone chargers and headphones.


If your phone needs a charge on-the-go, FuelRod offers already portable chargers for between $20 and $30. Adapter USB cords are included in the automated purchase for both Android and iPhone and the charger is reusable. Charge at home using the adapters or you can swap it out at a fuel rod location for a new, ready-to-go charger.


Healthy Food On-the-Go
Farmer’s Fridge automated kiosks offer healthy salads and sides dispensed in recyclable glass jars at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Currently, the company maintains seven Fridges at O’Hare and an employee-only Fridge at Midway airport, too. According to Rachel Rischall, a public relations representative for the company, the plan is to expand to additional cities. “We always viewed airports as an ideal space for Farmer’s Fridge,” Rischall says. “Travelers value convenience, quality and affordability and we meet all of those needs. You can order and receive our food in 30 seconds, we serve chef-curated fresh meals and every item in the Fridge is $8 or less.”


Beauty and Wellness

Benefit Cosmetics
Headed out of or into Austin? Fun-loving makeup and skincare brand Benefit Cosmetics has kiosks containing the company’s beauty and skin care products in three airports, including Austin-Bergstrom. The kiosks are powder pink and designed to look like vintage beauty buses with slogans and fuzzy dice. Savvy travelers can choose from 30 different beauty products including many of Benefit’s best sellers.


Dollar Shave Club
The upstart e-commerce shaving company that sold to Unilever for $1 Billion in 2016 is slotted to launch its first automated Kiosk in early 2019 in LaGuardia airport. The machines will offer six kits, for $12 each, containing Dollar Shave Club products such as shave, shower, hair care and skincare, including a best-sellers kit with the most popular product from each product line.


Mass retailer CVS has also introduced vending machines stocked with various necessities for “on-the-go” in airports, hotels and other transportation hubs. The machines offer up to 70 products including over-the-counter remedies for allergy, pain relief and colds, beauty and personal care products, eye care and tooth-care items, vitamins, first-aid remedies essentials such as batteries, phone chargers, earbuds, lint rollers and clothing stain removers.


Finally, Japanese casual clothing retailer Uniqlo operates 12 automated machines in the Houston, Las Vegas, Oakland, San Francisco, Burbank and LaGuardia airports. The machines offer two of the company’s biggest sellers, the Heat Tech t-shirt and the lightweight down jackets, in a variety of colors.

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