AirToob Lightning
Civilization comes to Washington Dulles Airport! (Original post 14 Nov 2007)

Air travel, as we know, is not meant to be enjoyable, and for many years Washington's Dulles Airport has maintained a strict policy of ensuring that it isn't.

However, in the last few years some cracks have started appearing in this policy. While some are relatively minor and could easily be overlooked, I have recently discovered a serious example of backsliding in the catering section, whose policy is best explained by one of the airport posters that advertises "Dining at Dulles Airport", illustrated by a triple cheeseburger (I think).

The backsliding in question is the arrival of one of Vino Volo's Wine Rooms, an oasis of pleasure where you can sit in deep, comfortable armchairs and enjoy glasses (or a bottle) of excellent wine, with excellent food to go with it, starting (if you like) with one of the best selections of olives I have ever encountered. You can choose food in small portions that matches the wine(s) you are drinking, and build yourself a very nice meal, or just have a light gourmet snack.

I guess you could choose any of their wines and it would be great, but if you haven't tried a rosé wine recently (in the last few years they seem to have been growing greatly in quality and popularity), I can really recommend an American one from Virginia - the Albemarle County Kluge Estate Rosé 2006, a Cabernet/Merlot blend.

The problem with this place is the feeling of unreality you will experience should you ever discover where the room is located in the airport (read on...). Inside the room is peace, comfort and the enjoyment of wine as one of life's great blessings. Just outside the room is the glare of fluorescent lights, the indescribable decor of the Dulles departure lounges, and a country where - with many exceptions, thankfully - the spectre of the liquor store and booze being smuggled home guiltily in a brown paper bag still stalks the land. It's a very unsettling contrast...

Obviously the decision to allow this strange phenomenon into the airport was the subject of fierce internal debate. A compromise must have been reached: yes, we will allow it on a strictly experimental basis, but it must be well hidden and not advertised. It must be located at the extreme end of a remote part of the airport, so that people who might be corrupted or offended by its presence will have the least chance of walking past it. Suggestions of locating it in a remote, redundant jetway having been reluctantly rejected, the next best option was chosen - at one extreme end of Concourse C, as close to gate C1 as possible.

I see from VinoVolo's web site (and numerous news items and reviews) that similar backsliding is taking place at other US airports, and from talking to one the wine bar's staff I have learnt that in another airport where she worked a similar location strategy for the wine room has been adopted.

Where will all this end?

From my web site...

["The Bright Side"]