Very Particular Passenger Sues Airline for Serving Sparkling Wine Instead of Champagne

It’s an important distinction, actually. Photo: Elliot Elliot/Getty Images/Johner RF

A man in Quebec has filed a class-action lawsuit claiming a Canadian airline inflicted actionable damages by serving him a free glass of sparkling wine that wasn’t Champagne. A skimpy pour isn’t what outraged Daniel Macduff on his Sunwing flight to Cuba for a holiday getaway — it was the fact that he thought he’d been promised Champagne, but he instead spied a bottle that wasn’t marked with the style’s protected appellation.

The airline, you see, offers “Champagne service” and “Champagne vacations.” Naturally, you might think that means Champagne — a protected term that applies only to wine from the region, not a catch-all term for bubbly wine. Macduff’s lawyer tells the National Post that this suit isn’t about the “subtle differences between effervescent wines,” but rather “truthful advertising in a highly competitive market.” The budget airline is collecting a windfall by foisting cheaper wine onto excited passengers. “You’re trying to lure consumers by marketing something, and you’re not giving them that something,” he says. “It’s a dishonest practice.”

The airline says in a statement that these are merely words describing the “experience-enhancing features” passengers can expect on flights, not references to the exact drinks being served. Alas, the Post points out that certain Sunwing ads literally said complimentary “glass of Champagne.”

The airline has since scrubbed most of those ads from its marketing materials, and the website’s new preferred verbiage is a “welcome glass of sparkling wine.” Meanwhile, Macduff’s lawyer claims that he’s found about 1,600 more people who say that, as a matter of fact, they also feel cheated by Sunwing’s deceptive wine wording.

Passenger Sues Airline for Not Serving Champagne