A tale of two vending machines

The Special One and I spent the holiday weekend back in the UK, engaging in a whirlwind tour of friends and family. I think most of them are starting to ask questions about whether I’ve actually left the country given how much I seem to be back there. Maybe I should change the name of the blog to “Brit Mostly Out Of Water”?

A weekend spent 3458 miles away from New York inevitably necessitates spending a fair amount of time in airports, particularly following the British Airways crash landing in London – not to mention apparent 150mph headwinds awaiting us on the way back.

Time in airports these days seems less about interminable waiting and more about interminable shopping. And if ever you needed a powerful demonstration of the difference between New York and London, maybe these two pictures of airport vending machines could provide it. Firstly, a machine found at London’s Heathrow:

Heathrow Airport

These machines first started appearing a year or so ago, offering travellers the chance to buy a book to occupy their minds when there’s only The Bourne Ultimatum on the inflight movie channels. Admittedly Russell Brand’s ‘My Booky Wook’ isn’t necessarily Shakespeare, but it’s got to be better than seven hours of sudoku.

Now the vending machine at JFK:

JFK Airport

When I was a kid, vending machines had bubble gum in them and you put 2p in to get something out. Now it seems that you use them to part with $250 in order to pick up cutting edge music players. Have we reached the point where iPods are considered spur-of-the-moment impulse purchases, to rank alongside a Coke, a packet of Doritos or a Mars bar?

Obviously, you’re not actually going to be able to use the iPod on your flight unless you’ve brought a computer and your music collection with you, and you’re able to find somewhere to charge the battery.

Of course, if you really can’t find a power source to charge your brand new device, you can just unplug the iPod vending machine and use that outlet instead. Other travellers will just have to content themselves with that book after all.

4 thoughts on “A tale of two vending machines

  1. Almost American

    One of the things I like about travelling by plane is having some time to read. I enjoy browsing the bookstores at the airports in the UK and picking out at least 2 or 3 books to read on the trip back to the US. I don’t ever remember buying books at an American airport though. I suppose partly because we usually fly overnight to the UK, so the flight is spent trying (and failing) to sleep.

    We have an iPod vending machine at our local supermarket now. Pretty useless at the airport though – as you said, if you don’t have a way to charge it, and you don’t have a computer handy so you can load music on to it . . . Definitely an impulse buy!

  2. best

    Almost American said “Pretty useless at the airport though”…. hell no.. airports (typically) have travellers passing through from all over the world.. like the UK or any part of Europe, where ipods are like twice the price… i dont care if i cant listen to it right then and there.. i just want to buy an ipod for half price of what i would have to pay back home…

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