Remember when vending machines dispensed candy and soda? How passé. These days, brands around the world are increasingly recognizing that airport departure areas can be a really smart place to hawk both essentials and pampering items to forgetful or impulsive travelers. Consider these cool and totally useful options:
1. Down jacketsOakland is the first airport in the country to get vending machines from the Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo. From it, you can grab one of the brand's fabulously light and warm down jackets. Pro tip: When you're trying to hack your plane seat for maximum comfort, they also double as excellent back pillows for your flight.
2. Leather earringsKansas City, San Francisco, and Oakland airports have SouveNEAR vending machines stocked with locally made gift items. Where else can you score some totally unique leather cat earrings?
3. Peanut soba noodles
Food in airport vending machines is making great strides beyond M&Ms and peanut butter crackers thanks to companies like Farmer's Fridge at Chicago's O'Hare Airport that offer healthier options like oatmeal parfaits and salads. You can even recycle the jar if you aren't bringing it on board.
Jessica Alba's Honest Company answered parental prayers by stocking the most essential of baby items in airport vending machines stationed in St. Louis, Atlanta, Dallas, New York City, and Houston. And if you believe anecdotal evidence, diaper rash cream could also be a quick fix for adult acne. So you're covered, no matter your potty-training skill set.
5. Phone chargers
It's a crap shoot whether your seat on the plane will have a power outlet to keep your phone alive until the next destination, so Fuel Rod is pretty much a lifesaver for its offerings of portable USB chargers at airports in Baltimore, Columbus, and Philadelphia.
6. SunglassesIt's so easy to forget your sunglasses on a trip, but Automatic Apparel's machine in Boston's Logan Airport has you covered. it's also got undies for men and women in case you really packed like a novice.
7. Nail polish
Even though people will look at you crazy if you try to do your nails in flight amid all those fumes (um, so we've heard), it's hard to pass up buying a new bottle of Essie polish to use once you get where you're going. You can also put a gift set of three bottles together, which would probably be received a lot better by your hostess than an airport shot glass. Look for it in Austin, Dallas, Las Vegas, Oakland, and New York City.
8. Ballet flats
Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport truly understands the needs of the well-heeled traveler with these Flat Out ballet flats in a bag.
9. Flat iron
A clever rental machine in Canada's Kelowna Airport provides time for you to flat iron your frizzy tresses. You'll look like you had a fancy blowout before you arrive.
10. Frozen custard
Ted Drewes is the name to know for frozen custard in St. Louis, and you can get some in the airport if you miss it while in town — all year round.
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