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Crewed Talk

We Need Some Bells and Whistles Back

We Need Some Bells and Whistles Back
Amanda Pleva

A Canadian airline passenger has recently filed a lawsuit against Sunwing Airlines, seeking punitive damages on account of the carrier’s promotion of a complimentary champagne service to all passengers – a wine that any oenophile would only consider to be real champagne if sourced from the Champagne region of France – when, in fact, they’d been served a cheaper sparkling wine from elsewhere (tres gauche!). The plaintiff has been joined by 1600 others in what Sunwing (correctly) calls “frivolous and without merit.” The plaintiffs, on the other hand, feel the suit is necessary to punish what they feel is a lack of truth in advertising – they’d bought their tickets with champagne wishes and caviar dreams left unfulfilled. Robin Leach, somewhere in the distance, shed a tear and shook his fist at the sky.

But the lawsuit has had the unintended effect of putting Sunwing and their bubbly service on the map, which is a bright spot in what has become an industry synonymous with misery. Thank goodness they’re merely rephrasing the offering as a “sparkling wine service” rather than scrapping it altogether. Sunwing and airlines like Delta, which has reintroduced domestic economy class meals on some flights (and even have their own complimentary prosecco offering in coach on some international routes as well), are taking a step in the right direction in giving people a reason to like to fly again.

Initially, when low-cost carriers came onto the scene, the idea was brilliant – omit what passengers don’t want so that they only have to pay for what they do. But as the airlines slashed fares and amenities to battle it out to win over consumers, we have ended up where we are now: without enough room to get out of an upright fetal position and with a credit card constantly in hand, expecting any request onboard to come with a price tag, and that’s across the spectrum from mainline to ultra-low-cost carriers. It’s bred a sense of entitlement in many people, who feel the need to fight for whatever they can get because it’s now a pay-to-play game, and flight attendants like me are left in the unenviable position of trying to stay out of viral cell phone videos while also trying to keep my employer pleased.

As a flight attendant, my coworkers would probably kill me for suggesting that we do more work, but deep down I feel like they’d agree – some of these free perks ought to continue make a return. Airlines ought to be more creative and competitive in such a joyless landscape. We all offer the same films, same shows and have varying degrees of wifi availability, so we have become less and less able to wow people anymore. Is it worth it to pay a small amount more for a ticket in order to add a bit more pleasantness to a flight? I think that in the end, it absolutely needs to happen. Our passengers are tense. We as crew, in turn, are even more tense. Unless you can afford to travel in first class every time, flying is simply and sadly just transportation. But injecting some unexpected niceties in the experience can go so far to bring back what is so sorely missed post-9/11.

Cheers to the enjoyment of the little things in life.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (4)


  1. LukeO9

    October 24, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    “…(correctly) calls “frivolous and without merit.”
    For a bottle of sparkling wine to be labeled Champagne, it has to be made in Champagne, France and produced using the méthode champenoise. Even if it is produced using the exact same method, anywhere else, it must carry a different name.

  2. jonsg

    October 28, 2017 at 9:56 am

    “what Sunwing (correctly) calls “frivolous and without merit.””

    No, it’s completely *with* merit. If you sell your tickets based on a Champagne service, and then provide a cheap-sparkling-wine service with no attempt at restitution, that’s – depending on perspective – anywhere between false advertising and fraud by false representation.

    People pay a premium for that luxe, and they have every reason to expect the luxe they paid for. If you have a problem with that idea. don’t complain when you book a Mercedes SLK and get a Chevy Spark.

  3. sddjd


    November 1, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    So, how much does he want for “champagne wishes and caviar dreams left unfulfilled”? I’d like to see Sunwings respond by determining the cost of one glass of Champagne and offer the class action group that amount per person (of which they’ll see a TINY fraction after the attorneys take their bite). The ONLY redeeming approach to his action would be if his only demand was that they correct the terminology used, something the airline actually already refuted, stating that it describes “sparkling wine” in its offer, using champagne to describe the level of service.

    Re SLK vs Chevy Spark, more suitable to argue that he expected an SLK and received an F-Type, TT, Z4, or other. This is NOT as if he ordered a filet and receive ground chuck.

    He and the others flew an LCC and are looking for the limelight. Period.

  4. Sydneyberlin

    November 7, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    …what Sunwing (correctly) calls “frivolous and without merit.” What? And this is why I’d chose Emirates over any of the North American carriers any day.

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