We were returning from our Florida vacation, thankfully on a direct flight, struggling mightily to come to terms with leaving behind the sun and the beach and the gemutlichkeit for the dreary cold that we knew, thanks to our weather apps, awaited us in Nebraska. I had been — and still am, considering changing loyalties in the airline department. Our United miles often go unused, often expire, and the card we once used for everything finds itself an afterthought most of the time. Meanwhile, Frontier’s mileage program seems terrific, and they fly most places we like to go direct out of Omaha. Of course, those aren’t the only considerations.
The cranky gate agent in Omaha, whom we encountered both going to and coming from Florida, was easily offset by all the nice ones. The email I received Tuesday morning, however, informing me that Sonja and my June flight to San Francisco, the direct flight getting in at around 11AM, had been cancelled and replaced by one that laid us over in Denver for three hours and got us to San Francisco at midnight, was not so easy to accept. I spent a lot of time on the phone that morning, and eventually was rebooked on a the terrible Denver flight with a few vouchers that won’t help pay for the extra night of hotel and rental car. At this point, I’m reconsidering considering changing my airline allegiance.
Getting back into Nebraska yesterday, I thought a glass of wine might help me steel myself to what awaited. I grabbed a menu from the seatback pocket. The options were somewhat limited:
I have no idea what monkey juice is, but no thanks. Desperate to know where the commas were apposed to go, I took a guess and ordered the “red blend wine” for myself. A kind stewardess brought it to me in short order.
Served in a plastic bulb with a peel-back aluminum foil lid, I didn’t see much point in transferring it over to the provided plastic cup. On the back on could find no information: no producer, no varietals, no ABV, no vintage, no slogan, no nothin’. A creepy, manufactured sort of nose and a deep, one-dimensional purple color segued into a wine that is plush, almost like wet velvet on the palate, and not at all unpleasant. Notes of blueberry, maybe? Very smooth, very easy drinking, it is flimsy and lacking structure, perhaps too low in acid. Quaffable if unexceptional, I drank it down and as I did uncovered the back label, written in tiny black print on a clear bottle containing red wine, essentially creating an invisible ink effect. It told me the wine was from California, was a low 13% ABV, and that I could learn more at electricskywine.com. Not surprisingly, the vintage remains a mystery.
As quickly as I could I returned to assisting my wife in parenting our two tiny, airplane-inexperienced children. One was rather compliant for the first half of the flight, while the other wanted to go exploring. Soon, both were being rowdy, and Sonja and I played musical chairs in our row, and also “pass the Zooey,” while taking turns reading to Titus and trying to keep him from kicking the back of the chair in front of him.
Frontier Airlines does a lot of things right, and we like their destinations and low fares. The service is generally good, though I’m hoping for greater resolution on the botched flight to California this summer. As for wine, they get a C+ for quality, a B for service, and a D+ for selection. Overall, a grade of C, which I might characterize as “needs improvement”. In short, don’t fly Frontier for the wine list.