Wine & Travel

Snooth User: Richard Foxall

Smart Marketing by the folks in Washington.

Posted by Richard Foxall, May 1.

Get this:  If you fly to Walla Walla on Alaska Airlines, you get fee waivers to tasting rooms and Alaska lets you check a case of wine.

That's really smart marketing for an up and coming area, if you ask me. Probably helps Alaska to fill out those seats, too.  Other than wine lovers, can't be a ton of folks going to Walla Walla.

So, DVogler, will someone in BC get onboard (ooh, bad pun, sorry) and have us flying AirCanada and bringing home wine? 

My wife flies to San Luis Obispo (she didn't want to drive by herself and I can't take the time off) next week.  That would be a nice perk for her, if she had time to hit some tasting rooms. 

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Replies

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Reply by EMark, May 1.

Believe it or not, back in my working days I made a couple business trips to Walla Walla.   The populace really make it a great town to visit.  I would fly on Alaska from Ontario to either Portland or Seattle, then connect to a "puddle jumper" operated for Alaska by Horizon Air.  On that 40-60 minute hop to Walla Walla, they would always serve a gratis wine or beer (your choice) of the day.  I can't remember any other flight in the last 30 years or so that did not charge for an alcoholic beverage.

And, I agree, Fox, it is good marketing.

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Reply by outthere, May 1.

Alaska/Horizon still offers free beverages. Last time we flew to Vegas they had free micro-brewery beer!

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Reply by dvogler, May 1.

Fox,

Air Canada hasn't many fans here.  I don't really have a problem with them...I've never felt the need to be mollycoddled just because I'm in the air.  In BC, it's similar to Washington geographically.  From Vancouver (on the coast) it's about a five hour drive to the wine region.  People don't really fly to Kelowna or Penticton (unless they live there).  It would certainly be something that Tourism BC should get going on.  Marketing wine tours with deals, in partnership with Air Canada and it's regional affiliates.

 

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Reply by dvogler, May 2.

I did a bit of research and there's no limit on checked-wine.  We also have a competitor to Air Canada called West Jet.  Victoria to Kelowna return is $293, one hour flight.  Now I just need to get wineries to get involved!  The wineries typically have nominal tasting fees, like $3, maybe $5 for five wines and it's waived if you buy a bottle.  My only gripe was there were a few that either didn't have their big blend open for tasting, or you had to pay more, like $10 to go into some special room.  My buddy said we had too many places to go to and that was not enticing us to buy.  What I should do is get the local Tourism board to get people interested with flight and hotel packages. 

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Reply by gregt, May 2.

Really no limit on checked wine? If only other airlines were so nice!  I just flew back from the east coast with a case. When it arrived there was a big piece of white tape from the TSA around it assuring me that it had been checked.

Still, paying the $25 baggage fee beats the $55 shipping fee, plus it's with me and not driving around in the sun.

Not sure how many additional tourists Alaska Air will pick up with that policy, but it's a rare example of an airline actually thinking about attracting customers rather than milking them. Imagine that.

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Reply by dvogler, May 2.

Greg,

I had been looking under "restricted items" and there was alcohol, which was broken down in to % alc/vol

Under 24% said "no limit", but didn't say if there was a cost per weight!  Obviously you couldn't put 12 cases on the plane for free!

It's Friday and I need wine!

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Reply by dmcker, May 2.

Alaska has always been a bit creative, though my experience with them is mixed.

And Walla Walla has always been nice, even if off a bit in the middle of nowhere. Great hiking/trekking in the nearby Blue Mts. and Wallowa Mts. (last I checked you could even still homestead there!). I went to college there for a year back in pre-history, when all they had was wheat and sweet onions. Later I almost bought a ranch at the foot of the Blues in the early '90s for my dad to manage (he was living in Spokane at the time), but then he got sick and couldn't do it. Would've been a great place for my daughters to visit in summers, ride, etc. and I'm sure we would've transitioned into viticulture considering the time and place as well as my dad's background. Another one of those might've beens...

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Reply by Richard Foxall, May 2.

I love the Internet.  I log in and it says DMCKER 39 seconds ago.  Like I need that much precision.

Shipping a case of wine for free is a serious perk.

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Reply by gregt, May 3.

For wine people.

Probably doesn't cost the airline all that much since there aren't that many of us, but for those of us who do ship, it is indeed a very serious perk!

Whoever thought of it is pretty smart - has to know that people who care will certainly talk about it and the marketing they'll get out of that has to offset some of their costs. I've already told a few people to check out the airline.

Never even flown them and they're my favorite airline now.

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Reply by dmcker, May 3.

Now if Alaska would only fly trans-Pacific...

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Reply by outthere, May 3.

Hey, Alaska/Horizon flies into Sonoma County Airport.

Just sayin'

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Reply by Lucha Vino, May 3.

Well, Maybe Alaska will let me bring a case of wine to the Syrah smackdown for free!

They have been doing that promotion for more than a year now.  If I remember correctly, there is also some kind of tie in with a rental car.

And speaking of Washington wine and marketing, have you seen the Recommendeuer?

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Reply by dvogler, May 4.

Lucha, I clicked on your link and got "108 million Americans now on welfare"

Hahaha, that was an ad by the article.  Interesting link though!

 

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Reply by Lucha Vino, May 4.

Well that is weird, wrong kind of marketing!  Here is another link to try at the Great NW Wine website.

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Reply by napagirl68, May 4.

Foxall,

An aside, but the drive to San Luis Obispo is a safe and nice one, IMO.  I have done it, but will not drive to LA by myself cause I hate the Grapevine.

NG

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Reply by dvogler, May 4.

NG, that sounds almost blasphemous.

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Reply by EMark, May 4.

?????????

If you drive to SLO, why wouldn't you just take 101 the rest of the way to Los Angeles.  Taking the grapevine is, really, out of the way.

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Reply by napagirl68, May 4.

Dvogler.. lol!

Emark- whenever I've gone to Cambria/SLO, I have gone 101 because Central Coast WAS my destination.  Whenever my family and I have gone to LA by car, it's I5 for speed.  I've never been down 101 to arrive at a destination in LA because of length of time.

Plus I hate LA traffic.

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Reply by EMark, May 5.

Sorry, NG.  I must have had my brain disengaged.  Makes perfect sense.

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Reply by jtryka, May 7.

Alaska had a similar promotion last year when I flew out to Walla Walla for a visit, here are some interesting tidbits:

  • You don't have to fly Alaska exclusively to take advantage of this, last year I flew American most of the way but Alaska for the last leg to/from Walla Walla.  I checked a case on the return and it was transferred to American and was waiting at the baggage claim when I got off my last flight.
  • When you check you have to leave the case unsealed, as the TSA will inspect it to ensure that all the bottles are sealed and you aren't sneaking hazardous substances aboard.  Hence the TSA tape on the box when you get home.
  • While I was in Walla Walla,  I bought a case that had some heavy duty Styrofoam core for about $9 that I would fill over the time I was there, so the case was mixed from a variety of wineries.

Overall a very convenient service for wine people and very good marketing as last year I only found out about it when I arrived in Walla Walla, but this year they are really promoting it as I even heard about it several times while I was in Portland and Seattle a week or so ago.

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