Can You Eat Healthy at the Airport?

Airports are helping travelers keep fit on the road

By Natalie Fiorilli

Published January 13, 2020

Read Time: 2 mins


New year, new you.

At least that’s what you thought when you started 2020 off with a resolution to eat healthier. Then you found out that your new year will be filled with travel for work.

With fast food and other “quick serve” restaurants, airports don’t enjoy the best reputation for offering healthy options, but that appears to be changing – and quickly, said Scott Elmore, vice president of marketing and communications for Airports Council International.

“Health-conscious travel has become a fast-emerging movement,” he said.

From offering gluten-free menu items for those with dietary restrictions like celiac disease to including the latest culinary trends like the Impossible Burger, more airports are adding food options for every traveler.

“Many airports now require their concessions partners to include a diverse selection of menu items for passengers to meet a wide variety of dietary requirements,” Elmore added. “It’s very common to now see vegan and gluten-free options on menus at airports.”

Overhauling the menus

Concession management companies work with airports to oversee the food, beverage and retail programs found in terminals.

One of the largest airport food service companies is Bethesda, Maryland-based HMSHost, which has a presence in more than 120 airports across the globe, including some of the nation’s busiest: Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International (ATL), Los Angeles International (LAX), Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Denver International Airport (DEN).

“Our restaurants offer travelers various menu options, many of which include health-forward and gluten-free choices, and the ability to customize items to their own dietary needs,” said Atousa Ghoreichi,Vice President of Marketing and Communications for HMSHost.

At Pittsburgh International, concessionaire Fraport USA helps to manage service providers that include HMSHost and Air Ventures to add a variety of restaurants and food options in the terminal.

Travelers wait in line to order from Modern Market, a restaurant at Denver International Airport (DEN) that offers healthy and organic menu items. (Photo courtesy of DEN)

“No one should have to take a pass on eating healthy just because they are traveling,” said Amy Miktus, vice president of operations for Fraport in Pittsburgh.

With nearly 30 restaurants throughout the terminal, options for travelers range from a variety of local and national brands – most with menu items for gluten-free, vegan and other healthy choices.

Joseph Krzyzanowski, HMSHost director of operations at Pittsburgh International, said airports across the country will continue to adjust to ever-changing lifestyle food trends.

“To accommodate diners, our restaurants offer various menu options, many of which include health-forward, plant-based and gluten-free choices, along with the ability to customize items to their own dietary needs,” said Krzyzanowski. “Whether you’re sitting down at Wigle Whiskey, or grabbing something to go from Starbucks, we have travelers covered.”

Here’s a quick guide to eating healthy (or at least healthier) at some Pittsburgh International eateries:

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