How To Skip The Long Airport Starbucks Lines Before Your Flight

by joeheg

When we have an early morning flight from Orlando International Airport (MCO), there are three long lines you’ll need to stand in:

  • Bag Drop
  • TSA Checkpoint
  • Starbucks

(OK, not everyone “needs” to stand in the Starbucks line, but from the length of the queues at the Starbs at the airport, it sure seems like everyone is)

It’s hard to believe that in 2022, there’s been limited use of technology to speed up these lines. Sure there have been some advances like self-check-in and bag tags but once you’ve completed that process you still need to wait in line to see an agent, show your ID and weigh your luggage. If you’re already waiting in line for this, why do you have to sign in at a kiosk before getting in line??

The one place where there’s been work to shorten the wait times is the TSA checkpoint. You can register for TSA Precheck and CLEAR to get through security quicker. If you don’t want to pay, there are several airports where you can make an appointment for the TSA checkpoint and skip the line.

However, there’s been one line that no one has been able to skip. That’s the line for the Starbucks located past the security checkpoint. That’s because of the TSA’s no liquids policy. Sure, you could stop at the Starbs before TSA but you’d have to chug your coffee, tea or pink drink before getting to the front of the line. If you want a drink while you wait for your plane or even to bring with you for the flight, you needed to wait in line. Until now.

That’s because Starbucks has announced the mobile order feature of its smartphone apps is starting to include airport locations.

You’re likely to order via the app if you have a Starbucks habit. In fact, 1 in 4 of all Starbucks orders are placed through mobile devices. That’s because the app allows you to customize your order to exactly the way you want it. Then placing a mobile order allows you to skip the line and walk up when your order is ready. For example, I live about 5 minutes from our local Starbucks. As I’m getting ready to leave the house for work, I place my order and by the time I get to the store, my order is ready to pick up.

For people like me, waiting in the super long line at airport locations is the most frustrating thing ever. Why don’t these locations accept mobile orders? I could place my order as I get in line for CLEAR and by the time I get my luggage scanned and get to the gates, my coffee and breakfast sandwich would be ready.

It’s a complicated issue because airport Starbucks locations are not company-owned. Instead, they’re run by licensed airport operators. Until recently, HMS Host had an exclusive contract with airport Starbucks locations and they had no interest in offering mobile ordering. BTW, can you remember when you weren’t even able to pay with a gift card or by the Starbucks app at airports?

In 2020, the exclusive contract ended and other operators were able to open Starbucks in airports. The wheels of progress apparently run slowly at licensed locations. According to an article in USA Today,

As of Tuesday, the order-ahead option is available at more than 230 licensed stores at 70 U.S. airports in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Orlando and Seattle.

When we have an early morning flight, we’ll usually go to The Club MCO to grab a coffee and snacks because it’s faster than waiting in the Starbucks line.

However, if we’re able to preorder I can see Sharon and I boarding our next flight with a tall blonde in a grande cup, and a Venti Cold Brew with sugar-free vanilla syrup, no classic and whole milk.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


khatl March 4, 2022 - 5:59 pm

It works. Did it recently in Tampa and avoided a huge line. Wondered why everyone was bothering lining up when mobile ordering was available.

Airport Starbucks Start Doing Mobile Ordering [Roundup] - View from the Wing March 6, 2022 - 8:06 am

[…] Some airport Starbucks now do mobile ordering […]

Avi Navarre March 10, 2022 - 7:10 pm

I actually work at a Starbucks in an airport, so I know the unfortunate side of the mobile ordering. Due to an airport having typically a higher amount of traffic (I work at an international connection airport) versus a standalone store, the stock typically gets wiped out pretty quickly. I’m talking caramel syrups, grande and venti cold cups, paper bags, merch, java chips, non dairy milks, etc. anything and everything is fair game. The computer system won’t allow us to mark certain items like milks, food items, teas, and coffees out of stock. People will do mobile orders before getting thru TSA and unfortunately their order will be 30 minutes old.
If anything, make sure you are there at the Starbucks before sending in your order, see if anything is out of stock. So many people ordering pink drinks and oatmilk lattes when we have nothing but whole milk and 2%.

Rhaman March 30, 2022 - 4:07 am

Cannot help to wonder as to “just leaving the house” as to ordering a Starbucks coffee, no coffee machines at home? A pod coffee maker, Starbucks pod, commuter cup= coffee to go at a fraction of the cost, no waiting, no gasoline wasted, no paper cup waste,


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