April 2012 | Catering to increasingly sophisticated passengers who want to try something new besides the generic soda and alcohol brands available onboard, a growing number of airlines serve local niche beverages inflight, which adds an authentic element to the experience and supports the local economy as well.
Virgin America, Porter, Alaska AIrlines
Especially, small to medium-sized airlines in North America offer local microbrews onboard, as they are more rooted in local communities, while their relatively small scale allows local breweries to guarantee supply.
For example, Virgin America offers local beers from micro breweries such as Gordon Biersch, Black Star and Blue Moon, as well as Californian wines and premium spirits, for sale through its touch screen IFE ordering system. Passengers onboard Alaska Airlines’ subsidiary Horizon Air can choose from a selection of free wines and microbrews from the Pacific Northwest. And emphasizing its Toronto roots, Canadian boutique airline Porter Airlines serves complimentary beer from the local ‘Steam Whistle Brewing Company’, whose brewery is located less than two kilometres from Porter’s base at Toronto’s City Centre Airport.
The latest airline to ‘tap’ into the local beverage trend is Denver, Colorado-based Frontier Airlines. Combining two popular trends – local catering and social media – Frontier has just launched a Facebook campaign in which it asks the public to vote for their favourite local beer to be served onboard Frontier’s flights. In the airline’s words: “What’s on tap? You tell us. We’re having you – our fans and passengers – choose which local Colorado beer to feature onboard each month as part of our rotating tap. This month choose between Dale’s Pale Ale, Upslope Pale Ale, Colorado Native, or Crabtree Oatmeal Stout. Voting ends May 15 and the winning Colorado brew will be featured onboard starting June 1.”