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HonorCoffee.png Boise Airport

Airport offers “honor system” coffee, bagels

Two unmanned serving stations at Boise Airport give busy early-morning travelers a quick breakfast option where they are trusted to pay for what they take.

Airports are high-security environments where one should always assume that someone may be watching. Still, allowing travelers access to coffee and bagels with the understanding that they will pay for what they take seems to take the concept a bit far.

Yet, that is what the Boise Airport in Idaho is doing with two unmanned Honor Coffee kiosks that sit near a conventional Einstein Brothers Bagels stand in one concourse and near a River City Coffee stand in another.

The Honor Coffee kiosks serve basic coffee and plain bagels, with a posted price of $3 for each coffee and each bagel, or $5 for a coffee and bagel combo. It accepts only cash, which is deposited in a slot in a strongbox.

“We’ve actually had it in place for a couple years now and haven’t had any real problems with people not paying,” says Sean Briggs, marketing manager for the Boise Airport. “It started with us seeing longer lines [at the Einstein Brothers and River City stands] during the busy morning hours, so we worked with Delaware North [the concessions company that operates food and beverage sales at Boise Airport] to put these kiosks up to help take some of the pressure off.”

Briggs says one reason for the high degree of honesty may be that the Honor Coffee kiosks only operate in the morning rush, from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., when most of the travelers are professionals and businesspeople who would hardly risk the scandal of being caught shoplifting a bagel or coffee worth only a few dollars, especially as the kiosks are in a highly prominent area just past the security lines and in plain view of the staffs of the two traditional stations, whose jobs include making sure the Honor Coffee kiosks remain stocked.

Briggs says the kiosks average about 30 customers a day, which also helps facilitate sales at the regular stands as it reduces their lines and lessens the number of potential customers who might decide to forego buying something because of the wait. The cash-only policy may be a slight obstacle for travelers who don’t have the exact mix of bills, but there are also plenty of regular fliers who travel from or through the airport who know to bring the right change so they can expedite getting a quick breakfast.

“It’s just something we thought we’d try to make things a little easier for our customers and it’s worked out very well,” Briggs concludes.

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