Tiffin à la razorback: Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA)

Welcome to the tarmac that Wally built.

Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) does a brisk trade of regional jets ferrying supplicants to the Walmart throne. Yes, Tyson is in nearby Springdale, and t-shirted college students indicate the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville up the road, but this is Wally World. Central Bentonville is dominated by about three dozen, hulking, low-slung buildings of Walmart’s headquarters. Even the newest cultural attraction, Crystal Bridges, is funded by Walmart heir money.

XNA 1

Small US airports often recall when travel was less impersonal and far less paranoid. XNA has plenty of light, some comfy chairs, free wi-fi and a nice sit-down restaurant, the Smokewood American Grill. With little time before departure, The Rapid Traveler inquired what could be ready in 10-15 minutes.

“Not the burgers or steaks.”

Excellent answer, indicating entrees are actually made fresh.

XNA 2

Consolation prize was ‘artisinal mac and cheese’ with several sides, served in paper cups, tiffin style. It made for quite the in-flight spread.

XNA 3

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  • Max M

    XNA is the only airport in the U.S. that I’ve been to where in the restrooms, there were signs saying water in the sink area is for handwashing only: “DO NOT DRINK WATER FROM SINKS– THERE IS A WATER COOLER OUTSIDE THE RESTROOM”— of course that may have changed since my visit to XNA back in 2005. Back then, Northwest Airlink billed itself as having the only “Business Class out of XNA” on their BAE-146 RJ 85 aircraft.

    I’m guessing the sinks in the restrooms now doesn’t have those signs @ XNA anymore?

  • dale m

    And there’s plenty of cows in the adjoining fields just spitting distance from the gates, which makes for a curious comparison upon arriving at/from Chicago, Newark, etc. Also coyotes, which I hear when arriving late and walking out to the car. Another time sat and sat on an AA flite awaiting take off, until a wandering rogue coyote conceded the runway.

    Dale M

  • Tracy

    lol, this is where I grew up. I love hearing visitors point of views of our peculiar airport! Unfortunately becuase it is the home of Walmart, Tyson, and JB Hunt business travel dominates the airport and controls prices.

  • @Max M – looks like the airport has had a recent big upgrade, though too bad they didn’t retain some nice touches of nostalgia.

    @dale m – I love that, “conceded the runway!”

    @Tracy – I had a great time, only wish I could have convinced my boss to allow a quick stop at Crystal Bridges, next time need to swing a solo trip.