By Adam Bush
Recently on a boys’ trip to KRK (Krakow), I had an almost six hour layover at IAD (Dulles). This was mostly by choice since I would rather spend extra time at the major hub airport than be delayed at my home airport of ORF (Norfolk) and lose a day flying overseas because I missed a connection.
IAD has grown on me — especially the new A and B concourses on the other side of the “people movers” landing. High ceiling and wide aisles make it easy to navigate. You never get caught behind the family of four sauntering shoulder to shoulder and forming a slowly moving wall that doesn’t synch well with my need to walk swiftly even when I have five hours to catch a flight. I have only flown once out of that concourse, but I spend a lot of time there even when my gates are elsewhere. It’s why I didn’t mind spending a long layover there this time. The food choices are better than anywhere else at IAD.
For this trip, I had a Chipotle burrito for lunch and some sushi to-go for dinner on the plane (“oh, I see you have eaten with is before” said the flight attendant as I opened my sushi during the flight). In between, I spent time at the Lufthansa Senator Lounge instead of the United Club – yes, I wanted to feel internationally pretentious…plus they have great fresh food options. I got a little work done and mapped out our adventures for the next four days in Krakow. I would do this type of layover again.
It’s why I love the idea of tripchi. Let the experiences of the masses help the individual have a better travel experience – from finding the best place to eat, the best place to take that important conference call, or who knows…the best place to get a little bit of shut eye.
I’ve been a regular business and personal traveler of the past 12 years (spending most of that time as Star Alliance Gold and Hilton Diamond). I’ve eaten at my share of HMS Host themed restaurants (oh no…not ANOTHER Chili’s Too!) and chowed down on prepackaged sandwiches and salads at grab and go kiosks everywhere. The food has gotten better through the years but in most cases the predictability in the menu options has not (even if the restaurant themes have…yes, I am talking to you Fox Sports Net Bar, NASCAR cafe and most locally themed restaurant in an airport).
That all changed for me in 2007. My wife and I were strolling through IAD awaiting a connecting flight to ZRH. We knew we wanted to eat before we got on the plane and were sizing up options as we made our way towards the gate in Concourse C. As we were getting to the end of that Concourse and thoughts of Wendy’s for dinner was dancing in my head, my attention went towards the site of a beautiful siren in a sea of blah blue and grey plainness.
Her white exterior and wood blinds got my attention first, but love set in when I saw the display of wine bottles and leather chairs. (Yes, it may be wrong of me for ogling in front of my wife, but I swear I heard her quietly say “damn, you look good baby” under her breath as she saw what I saw). That was the first time I saw Vino Volo. A wine bar…in an airport! I was in love and I knew I was looking at a long term relationship. I mean really…who needs another glass of Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio or Kendall Jackson Cab Sav., right? Big ranges of wines from all over the world paired with great small plates of artisanal foods…at last date night food at the airport. We both spent time chatting up our waitresses about how great this place was like two suitors trying to outdo each other. It was a true oasis. After our trip, we bragged to our friends about this great new place “we found.”
Because I travel more than my wife, I was able to “see” Vino Volo regularly. Our relationship expanded beyond Concourse C at IAD. It moved onto long waits for delayed SWA flights at BWI, to long layovers at PHL, to waiting for the boys to show up at EWR on the way to a Fenway baseball weekend (though I missed her at BOS). Vino Volo was making it easier for me to see her – even opening a second location at IAD by the A gates and well within walking distance of UAL Express flights on which I have spent a good part of the past six months. She offers me a good meal, great wines, a comfortable chair, plenty of power outlets and tables big enough for a glass of wine, plate of food, and laptop. I was happy. I was content.
Then came the affair. Stay tuned for details….