Man sues airline for serving sparkling wine instead of champagne

A man is suing a Canadian airline for serving sparkling wine instead of champagne.

Daniel Macduff from Quebec bought a package holiday to Cuba with Sunwing Airlines, a lowcost Canadian carrier.

The holiday advertised a “complimentary onboard champagne toast”, but instead, Mr Macduff and his fellow passengers were served sparkling wine. What’s more, they only received the bubbly on the outgoing flight. On the return home, they went without.

Macduff’s lawyer, Sébastien Paquette, says that the lawsuit isn’t about the merits of sparkling wine versus champagne, but about Sunwing’s misleading marketing. The airline’s marketing materials included several references to “champagne” – a strictly controlled term, given only to those wines produced in the Champagne region of France.

“It’s not about the pettiness of champagne versus sparkling wine,” he told the BBC. “It’s the consumer message behind it.”

Macduff’s lawsuit – which has yet to be certified by the courts – asks for financial compensation to reflect the difference between a glass of champagne and the sparkling wine which was served, as well as damages. Around 1,600 other plaintiffs have joined the lawsuit, Paquette said.

In a statement, Sunwing called the class action “frivolous and without merit”, saying that terms like “champagne vacations” and “champagne service” were commonly used “to denote a level of service in reference to the entire hospitality package“ rather than referring directly to the drinks served on the plane.

Flying isn’t what it used to be. As well as the more common complaints of space-squeezing, decreasing baggage allowance and less free food, business-class perks are also being cut, and the availability of champagne – and which brands of champagne – is a constant concern among frequent flyers.

Sunwing has already removed references to its “champagne service” in current marketing materials, and says instead that it offers sparkling wine.

In July, an Emirates flight attendant caught on video pouring a glass of champagne back into the bottle went viral. At the time, Emirates told The Independent that the actions “do not comply with our strict quality standards.”


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