Man Sues Airline for Serving Sparkling Wine Instead of Champagne

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. disgruntled / dɪsˈgrʌn tld / (adj) – dissatisfied or angry about something

    Because of the service’s failure, we received calls from a lot of disgruntled customers.

  2. take (someone) to court / teɪk tə kɔrt, koʊrt / (idiom) – to take legal action against someone

    The passenger took the flight crew to court after they mistreated her during her flight.

  3. unfazed / ʌnˈfeɪzd / (adj) – calm or not worried

    The beverage company employees remained unfazed despite their client’s allegations.

  4. not hold water / nɒt hoʊld ˈwɔ tər, ˈwɒt ər / (idiom) – to appear unreasonable and not supported by facts

    The CEO assured the employees that the accusations against their company will not hold water.

  5. milk / mɪlk / (v) – to benefit by unfairly using someone or something

    He believes that the complainants only want to milk his business.


Read the text below.

A disgruntled passenger filed a lawsuit against an airline for alleged false advertising.

The complainant, Daniel Macduff, took Sunwing Airlines to court after claiming that the airline did not fulfill its promise of serving a glass of champagne on his return flight from Cayo Coco, Cuba to Quebec, Canada. Instead, he was served sparkling wine, a cheaper alternative to champagne.

According to Macduff’s lawyer, the purpose of the lawsuit is to bring Sunwing’s dishonest marketing practice to light, as the complainant insisted that the airline engaged in misleading advertising.

Sunwing Airlines confirmed that they used terms like “champagne vacations” and “champagne service.” However, the airline clarified that they were referring to the quality of service and hospitality they provide. “Champagne,” though commonly known as a beverage, can also refer to something that is luxurious, expensive, or superior.

Nevertheless, Sunwing Airlines remained unfazed and said the lawsuit will not hold water. They affirmed that they have consistently used the term “a complimentary welcome glass of sparkling wine” in all of their marketing materials and in-flight announcements.

Because of this incident, Sunwing Airlines has decided to forgo the use of “champagne” in its advertising materials.

Macduff’s lawsuit is only one of many similar cases that only seem to milk big businesses.

The Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) in the United States listed the most outrageous lawsuits filed in 2016. Coffee chain Starbucks topped the list with two complaints regarding their beverages. One customer sued the company for having an excessive amount of steamed milk in their hot coffee, while another claimed the iced coffee they were served contained too much ice.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, does Daniel Macduff have the right to complain against Sunwing Airlines? Explain.
• Do you think Sunwing Airlines handled Macduff’s complaint well? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Would you pursue a lawsuit against a big company for false advertising? Explain.
• How can consumers ensure they don’t fall for false advertising?