The longest lines at the airport during the busy spring break travel season might not be at security or bag drop: They're at Starbucks. But savvy travelers can skip the long wait for coffee: The Starbucks app allows you to place mobile orders ahead of time at Starbucks airport locations nationwide.
After years of complaints about long lines and lacking the ability to order ahead by mobile, Starbucks began rolling out this feature at airport locations last year. With a few exceptions, it's a fixture at airports big and small nationwide now.
Why not earn Delta SkyMiles on your Starbucks coffee order, too? Read our story to see how!
The ability to order coffee ahead and pick it up should help reduce notoriously long lines at airport Starbucks locations – especially in the mornings over busy seasons like spring break and the holidays when travel (and coffee) demand is at its highest.
Still, you won't be able to order your Starbucks ahead at all U.S. airports. Starbucks airport locations are not company-owned. Rather, they are operated by airport concession giant HMSHost, which, until recently, had an exclusive agreement to operate Starbucks' airport locations.
As of April 2023, mobile ordering is available at more than 230 Starbucks stores located across 30 airports, the retailer confirmed, and more could offer it in the future. The easiest way to see which airports are available is to search via the Starbucks mobile app.
Check out the rest of our tips to survive the hectic spring break travel season!
How to Place a Starbucks Mobile Order at the Airport
First things first, you'll need to join the free Starbucks loyalty program – Starbucks Rewards – if you're not already a member.
Once you have an account, you can download the Starbucks mobile app in either the Apple App Store or Google Play and log in. You can easily search for airport locations by typing in the three-digit airport code of any location. If you've allowed the Starbucks app to use your location, it will show you options near you.
By doing a quick search of Seattle's airport (SEA), you can see multiple Starbucks locations offering mobile order-ahead. The app also makes it clear if the location is before security to help avoid blunders of ordering coffee before having to clear the TSA checkpoint.
For our home airport of Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), all three main Starbucks storefronts throughout Terminal 1 currently have order ahead available, as does the Starbucks near Gate H5 in Terminal 2.
Once you've selected your location, you can press the “order here” button and proceed with your coffee order. As you complete your transaction, the app will estimate how long it should take for your drink to be ready, just like ordering via mobile from any Starbucks store.
Depending on how quickly you can get through security with services like TSA PreCheck or CLEAR®, you might be able to place an order as soon as you get to the airport, then immediately go grab it once you get through.
Read our tips for getting through the airport faster!
Ultimately, it should help reduce long lines and make it easier and much faster for Starbucks drinkers to get a beverage before heading to board their flight.
There's one less line to wait in at many U.S. airports.
Starbucks rolled out the ability to place mobile orders at hundreds of airport locations over the last year. This should help reduce – maybe even eliminate – the long lines to get coffee before a flight. Search the Starbucks mobile app to see if it's an option at your go-to airport Starbucks!
I have used the Starbucks app while sitting in a gate area waiting for my flight. I would see the line nearby and just order while continuing to do whatever I was doing, then go over to the coffee place, waltz by the many people in line, and just pick up my waiting java. Once or twice, however, it wasn’t ready despite what the app said, as I think they keep accommodating “emergencies.” Still and all, a nice improvement.
Online blogs by supposed airline insiders often warn that coffee on airplanes uses water of questionable purity. I would greatly appreciate this newsletter looking into that. I’ve personally never gotten sick from in-flight coffee, but I can’t say it ever tastes very good either.