It’s always a nice surprise when flying to receive a complimentary glass of Champagne. Even if you’re in first class, where Champagne might be somewhat expected and often advertised, it’s still a luxurious treat. For one Canadian passenger, getting that Champagne — real Champagne — is a right. BBC reports that Daniel Macduff of Quebec has filed a class action lawsuit against Sunwing Airlines for serving him sparkling white wine instead of Champagne.
Frivolous lawsuits aren’t rare in the world of alcohol, but this incident might be the most absurd. Macduff claims that he booked a trip with the airline, which advertised in-flight, complimentary Champagne. When he received sparkling white wine instead, he was outraged, or at least angry enough to attempt to take the airline to court. If you’re a Champagne enthusiast, or if you’ve ever seen “Wayne’s World,” you probably know that Champagne is simply sparkling white wine that is produced in the Champagne region of France. Sparkling white wine, regardless of origin, is often colloquially referred to as Champagne. Sunwing Airlines has responded, asserting that the term “Champagne” in their marketing campaign was intended to advertise an elevated level of service, and was not a specific reference to the French wine region.
Technically speaking, Macduff is right. Sunwing Airlines was not serving Champagne. Elevated service doesn’t change the nature of a beverage, and the region has a protected designation to use the term (except for those pesky California brands). But a lawsuit over it? That’s a little absurd.
Macduff has formed a 1,600-strong coalition of aggrieved passengers for the class action lawsuit. The plaintiffs are seeking restitution for the difference in price between the sparkling white wine and Champagne, in addition to punitive damages. Talk about a time for tort reform.