- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Fliers heading out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport have a new alternative to airline food or waiting in long restaurant lines for meals.
They can order airport restaurant meals online and have them ready before takeoff thanks to a Web service, Carry-On Cruise, which was started by Cardinal Technologies Inc., a Bethesda airline software company.
Right now, customers can only order five sandwich baskets, ranging from $7 to $9, from TGI Friday's and they have to pick up the food at the restaurant's pickup window, located in the center pier of the airport.
But Cardinal plans to expand services at airports in Providence, R.I., Newark, N.J. and New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport by mid-February, said Earl Furfine, Cardinal's CEO.
"We hope to have this service to all major airports by the end of 2003," Mr. Furfine said.
The goal of the service is to provide meal pickup at the passenger's gate, he added.
The service also does not provide drinks, but Mr. Furfine said the company plans to add a larger entree selection with the addition of three more airport restaurant chains, which he would not name, later this month.
Cardinal teamed up with Sabre Holdings Corp., the Southlake, Texas, company that owns travel agent Web sites Travelocity.com and GetHere.com, for the venture. Cardinal provided the software to the restaurants and Sabre carried out the order transactions and promotional marketing.
Mr. Furfine would not say how many customers have used the service since it began, but he said the Web site is averaging 50 hits daily.
Passengers submit their order at www.carryoncuisine.com and pay electronically at least one hour before their boarding. Cardinal gets a $1.50 surcharge for each order, which is not refunded if the order is canceled.
Amy Freshwater, spokeswoman for TGI Friday's Inc., said the service is still a test in the one restaurant. "It's too early at this point to tell how well it's going and if we're looking to expand," she said.
Andrea Spica, spokeswoman for Sabre, said the restaurants are offering only sandwiches for now, to follow security rules that prohibit cutlery on planes.
"We are adhering to the same rules that a restaurant within the secured spots of the airport would follow," Miss Spica said.
Robert Mann, an airline-industry analyst, said the service has potential to expand.
"It's a viable option that may get more attention when airlines like America West start charging customers for their food," said Mr. Mann, president of Fort Washington, N.Y., consulting firm R.W. Mann & Co.


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