XNA adding guest pass program and robotic coffee bar, plans apron expansion

A Cafe X kiosk near Gate B20 at SFO airport in San Francisco. (Cafe X)

Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA) this month will introduce a guest pass program and a new robotic coffee bar, all while preparing for a major expansion project.

The guest pass program will allow non-travelers to enter the concourse areas which were previously off limits to visitors.

With a guest pass, visitors can greet travelers at the gate, eat or shop at a restaurant or market, or just explore parts of the airport that are located past the security checkpoint area.

There is no charge for the guest passes, which should be available sometime in July. Visitors can register for a guest pass in the downstairs lobby at the TSA PreCheck desk, according to a news release.

Another upcoming airport addition is a Café X robotic coffee bar operated by Onyx Coffee Lab. The Bionics by Onyx kiosk will allow guests to place an order using a touchscreen system, and a robot will handle the rest.

The new robotic kiosk will be located next to Smokewood American Grill, and is expected to open by the end of July.

Finally, airport officials said the XNA board has granted approval for a western apron expansion project that will one day allow for the addition of a second concourse.

The new apron will initially provide for overnight aircraft staging, but will eventually facilitate the construction of what will be called Concourse B without disrupting the current usage of gates B1 and B2.

The apron project is estimated to be completed in the second quarter of 2024, according to airport officials.