Monday, November 27, 2006
Flying Right at Airports
Vino Volo is a wine bar and retail store chain that thinks consumers might want to gain a little altitude before they board a plane. They are not alone. A number of airports in the United States have wine bars and brewpubs offering quality beverages for thirsty travelers.
Vino Volo, which in Italian means "wine flight," has locations at Dulles International in Washington, D.C., and Sea-Tac Airport in Washington State. Others are on the drawing board for Baltimore, Md., and Sacramento, Calif. Busy travelers can grab a quality glass of wine and a decent plate of food, or if they have more time enjoy a flight of wine featuring several vintages. The wines offered are premium labels and priced accordingly.
At my home airport, Charlotte Douglas, North Carolina vineyards have set up a tasting room that I have enjoyed a couple of times during flight delays. The Albany, N.Y., airport has a Saranac Brewhouse that features craft beers. Similar beer friendly locations can be found at several airports, including Philadelphia, Boston, Orlando and others.
The concept of good drink and food at an airport sounds like a winner to me. Too often I've had time to kill and have found the only airport options to be a Sbaro or a smoke-filled lounge serving Bud Light and Sutter Home. If I don't drink it at home, chances are I'm not thrilled paying airport prices for the product while on the road. Think about it for a moment: even during the age of deregulation where many air travelers are dressed more appropriately for a Greyhound bus than an Airbus, airline passengers still tend to have higher per capita incomes than the average U.S. consumer. Many are traveling on business and can expense meals. Why wouldn't more airport locations that cater to the tastes of these customers pop up?
Starbucks appears to do just fine selling premium priced coffee. I'm happy I have that option in the morning. I feel the same way about locations like Vino Volo in the evening.