When You Live in Remote Alaska, Your DoorDash Order Comes by Plane

If you thought an hour was a long time to wait for takeout, try a couple of days.

Small bush plane with skiis landing on snow in Southeast Alaska
Photo: Michele Cornelius / Getty Images

Restaurant delivery apps have been successful because they play into human nature: Everyone gets cravings and — admit it — everyone can be a bit lazy. That's true whether you live in Manhattan or live in remote parts of Alaska. Of course, due to things like population density and infrastructure, services like DoorDash and Uber Eats tend to work better in the former than the latter. But according to a recent New York Times report, that isn't preventing rural Alaskans from using these services: They just have to wait a bit longer (at least overnight) and their "driver" is actually a separate contractor who brings them their food by plane.

No, services like DoorDash don't have a secret "Cessna" option for Alaska, but instead, residents in far-off villages can reportedly place an order online in a major city like Anchorage and have those orders delivered to an airport that shuttles passengers and supplies to remote areas. The food — steak tacos, General Tso's chicken, and pizza are offered as some examples — is then boxed and stored in a hanger refrigerator until it's time for the next flight, with residents apparently keeping an eye on departure schedules to know when to get their orders in.

After the meal's arrived, residents are just a quick reheating away from having that craving fulfilled. "Once you get it, you really, really savor it," Natalia Navarro, who works at a health clinic in Nikolai, a village of about 100 people in the Upper Kuskokwim region, told the Times. "It's kind of nice to have the option to have something like that sent out. It's not hot. It's not fresh. But at the same time, it has the flavor you're wanting."

Of course, as if delivery prices can't already get expensive enough, "last mile"-by-plane tacos don't come cheap. But the fees don't sound as eye-popping as you might think. The Times pegs an average cost of about $10 to $30 to get grub a spot on a plane. "There's literally no roads to connect these people to McDonald's or to KFC or whatever," Katie Burrows, an office assistant for the Lake & Peninsula Airlines which handles these kinds of deliveries, said, telling the Times that orders come in about every other day. "Paying an expediter or DoorDashing something to our office and paying $20 is really not that expensive compared to going into town."

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