Man Sues Airline for Serving Sparkling Wine Instead of Champagne

Canadian airline’s sparkling wine service made a man angry enough to sue

A passenger is suing an airline for serving him sparkling wine instead of Champagne.

A Canadian man who was allegedly served a non-French sparkling wine instead of Champagne on a Sunwings flight to Cuba is suing the airline for dishonest advertising, and so far he says 1,600 people are looking to join him.

According to the National Post, Quebec resident Daniel Macduff took a Sunwings flight to Cuba in February, and he was dissatisfied with the beverage selection. He says the company advertised “Champagne service,” but actually served sparkling wine instead. Macduff says sparkling wine is not Champagne, it’s less expensive and of inferior quality. Therefore he’s launched a class-action lawsuit, seeking both punitive damages and compensation for the price difference between sparkling wine and Champagne.

Technically, he has a point. The name “Champagne” is legally protected and can only be used to refer to sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wines are produced all over the world, though, and it’s not uncommon for people to refer to all sparkling wines as “champagne.”

Macduff says his lawsuit is not just him being petty about being served insufficiently fancy wine. He maintains it’s about dishonest marketing.

“You have to go beyond the pettiness of the (wine cost) per head,” he said. “What’s important is you’re trying to lure consumers by marketing something, and you’re not giving them that something … It’s a dishonest practice.”

Sunwing said the lawsuit is petty and baseless. The company asserts that the terms "champagne vacations" and "champagne service" were used "to denote a level of service in reference to the entire hospitality package" and not to describe the in-flight beverages.

All references to Champagne appear to have been removed from Sunwing’s website.

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Macduff’s lawsuit has yet to be authorized by a judge, but it could include any Quebec resident who booked a Sunwings flight that included the word “Champagne” in its advertising since February 2014. MacDuff says that could be 500,000 people, and he says 1,600 potential participants have already come forward so far. They should check out the 20 travel secrets your flight attendant won’t tell you.