Why Airport Starbucks Couldn't Accept App Orders... Until Now

Oh, the joys of travel –- the early mornings, the crowds, the waiting. For many people, navigating an airport requires caffeine, whether it's an overpriced energy drink or a jumbo-sized coffee. How else are you supposed to stay awake and alert?

Airport coffee comes in several forms, including complimentary coffee, airport-only chains, and national chains. Smaller chains like Guava & Java and Metropolis Coffee are no less satisfactory than giants like Starbucks, says Thrillist, but they don't offer quite the same perks.

Starbucks, for example, has worldwide recognition and familiarity. It's easy to find a Starbucks menu because the chain is so popular. Starbucks even has its own app, helpful for menu browsing, discounts, and ordering. However, until now, Starbucks was on the same playing field as other airport cafes in being limited to only in-person orders.

Unlike other Starbucks locations, airport-based Starbucks were unable to take orders via the chain's app. What made these locations different? What changed? 

Airport Starbucks has something in common with Target Starbucks

Fans of Starbucks and Target know there's something a little different about a Target Starbucks. That difference? Target Starbucks is neither owned nor operated by the Starbucks corporation, says Shop Food. Target simply licenses the Starbucks name and supplies its own staff. This is also the case for Starbucks located at Barnes & Noble bookstores.

As it turns out, airport Starbucks are also the same way. Because these locations are licensed and not company-owned, they were excluded from mobile ordering until just recently. According to Matador Network, Starbucks started allowing licensed locations to use mobile ordering during the summer of 2021.

Today, many airport Starbucks accept mobile orders, says USA Today. You should still always check the Starbucks app for mobile ordering availability to be sure. Who wants to stand in a long line for coffee if you can order ahead from the comfort of a sticky seat at your gate?