EVA Air Ups Their Champagne Game Even Further

EVA Air is generally a very well regarded airline, and was just recently ranked as a Skytrax 5-star airline (whatever that’s worth). I had the chance to first fly them shortly after they joined the Star Alliance, and have enjoyed all my flights on them since (especially their Hello Kitty flights!). They have great reverse herringbone seats in business class, and a great soft product as well.

EVA-Air-Business-Class

They even offer Rimowa amenity kits in business class, which I love.

EVA-Air-Rimowa

But perhaps the one area where they excel the most is with champagne.

Over the past several years EVA Air has served Royal Laurel passengers Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2004, and Krug. All three of those are among the best champagne served in business class, and better than what a vast majority of airlines serve in first class.

Well, it looks like EVA Air has elevated their game even further, at least on select routes. Reader Nigel forwarded a picture of the menu on his recent longhaul EVA Air flight. EVA Air now seems to be serving Krug Rose on select flights in Royal Laurel Class.

Krug-Rose-EVA-Air

There seems to be a bit of variance in terms of which champagne they serve on which route, with New York consistently getting the most premium option. Krug Rose retails for ~$280 per bottle before tax at the most competitively priced liquor stores, and only goes up from there.

Now, I don’t want to say this is the best champagne ever served in business class. Personally I prefer non-rose champagne, and I didn’t think the Krug Rose was that spectacular when I tried it. However, as far as I know this is the most expensive champagne ever served in business class.

More than anything I’m fascinated by the different approaches airlines take towards champagne. Airlines have strict catering budgets, presumably designed to maximize the airline’s bottom line. While I suspect no one chooses an airline exclusively based on champagne, it’s intended to contribute to the overall product offering that will make someone want to fly with an airline. So airlines try to strike the balance between offering a compelling product while trying to control costs.

The variance in the approach that airlines take is incredible. You have China Southern serving $5 champagne in first class, while on the other hand you have an airline serving $300 champagne in business class. There’s probably a happy medium there, though the extremes do fascinate me.

China-Southern-First-Class

At least in Taiwan the standard of expensive champagne is rubbing off on rivals, as China Airlines serves Pol Roger 2004 in business class

China-Airlines-Business-Class-777 - 58

Do you think airlines see a return that justifies incremental spend on alcohol? What’s the sweet spot (presumably somewhere between Duc de Paris and Krug Rose)?

Comments

  1. PRC airlines are always on the cheap side on every aspect. Or maybe it was supposed to be serving krug but all the money got into some executives’ pockets. And they childishly think no one could tell the difference since they cannot.

  2. I’d be very much surprised if there is any great return on incremental alcohol spending. I would think in most cases it’s more about keeping up with the Jones’. I view things differently than many in terms of luxury in either Biz or First, but the quality of the alcohol would rank very low on my priority list. Things like seat comfort/configuration, privacy, entertainment, bedding, food, flight routing, price etc. are all things way more important than alcohol.

    If 2 or more airlines are about equal on everything else, then maybe as a tie breaker I’d go with one over the other, but I don’t know that airlines are ever fully equal on everything else.

  3. Rose tends to be served on the Hello Kitty flighs so it’s most likely on TPE-CDG or IAH where everything is pink 🙂

  4. The champagne is nice but as the other reader said it really doesn’t make any money for the airline. Most people who fly first, fly at discounted rates or with points and its just pouring money down the drain for airlines to offer premium alcohol. Personally I always try to drink as much expensive liquor as I can on first/business (I only use points) simply because I want to take the airlines for as much as I can. Aside from that being younger than Lucky I always get dirty looks from the other passengers (who in business probably pay something) but in first I tend to see young guys like me pigging out cause we’re all there on points and its quite the riot to know I can drink and eat more than the cost of some smuck paying for their flight

  5. Seemed like Lucky deleted my post – OMFG Lucky – It’s time to stop kicking the dead horse. As I have mentioned on previous posts, China Southern no longer serves $5 champagne in first. I even offered to write you a trip report on my experiences, due to it being the most read trip report on your blog, however you never replied.

    What really grinds my gears is that I was actually very very happy with my experience in China Southern first, and it was consistent across all four of my flights. However, you continue to bash China Southern even AFTER they have improved.

    When a company reads your post, and takes action – this is what you call a company who actually cares about their customers and their experiences. Continuing to bash a company even after they have taken action is not only unfair, but paints you having a personal vendetta against China Southern. Sure, you might post it a few times again as a joke, but I’m sure if I went through and counted the number of times you repeated it (e.g Hainan trip report etc) it’ll paint you providing an unfair image.

    If another airline stuffs up on catering, customer care, poor service, I don’t see you posting them many times as this.

    Again, when a company takes action based on customers words – isn’t that what customer service is all about, and actually try and improve?

    *mic drop*

  6. Prior to all the recent changes in FF programs and transition to premium cabin discounted fare pricing I would have said no. Now, in this age of free agency (shifting airline loyalty) and discounted international J fares, I think it’s relevant. I might be biased because I’m in the wine business but all other things being equal, i’d consider the wine offerings as a major incentive in carrier selection.

    Have you ever visited the premium cabin galley at the end of a flight and witnessed the crew pouring premium champagne down the sink? Makes me want to cry……

  7. Of course PRC airliners serve trash wine; that’s what you do when all you have are trash passengers.

    大陸人的素質太低劣了,人格太低賤了,所有大陸人只要自殺就行了

  8. Usually Rosé champagne is more expensive than the non Rosé ones of the same brand. I prefer Rosé all the time.

  9. Emirates on select routes is currently serving Dom P2 which is a fantastic champagne. Retail about 350 a bottle.

  10. I would say that a bottle around the 250 USD for a biz class is probably adequate. For personal consumption I usually end up with something around teh 500 mark. The taste and smell are more important than the price and my favorites end up being the 93 Dom Pérignon Oenothèque or the 97 Salon Cuvee. I actually was served the latter (man was I surprised) on an AI flight from BOM to DEL in First on the 777 a day after the 2011 ICC world cup which India won. Apparently AI was in a celebratory mood. I was very impressed and sorta amused considering I have a collection of that blend for approximately 500 bucks US a bottle.

  11. @Formosa Why do you think nobody would understand what you said? I don’t want to attack you, but you should go back to where you came from.

  12. This 2010 Chevalier is supposed to be served chilled and it’s piss warm . What are we savages ? First world problems .

  13. Very smart marketing. Strong signal on quality through brands that people know and understand.

    Personal anecdote: I was on a private jet that served voss, and felt “everything was top of the line here, perfect everything.” Then I was on a similar private jet where the bottles were Arrowhead. I immediately caught myslef thinking the overall service/experience was crappy.

    To think, on a $50k charter flight, a marginal few dollars on water brand would change someone’s mind. Absolutely. Psychology is a real thing. This will for sure up their brand prestige if people recognize the champagne.

  14. @Alex We love haters . Don’t be mad because Ben is popping bottles in First Class all over the world. It’s OK to be jealous. Who wouldn’t want to be whisked away on a tarmac in a BMW to an A380 to fly Air France first class ?

  15. A good bottle of Veuve Clicquot standard Brut is fine for business class service.
    Krug for the first class.
    Korbel for coach but charge them $5 a glass

  16. @ Alex — Oh my…

    I’m sorry for any miscommunication here, but to clarify, the issue was that I wasn’t looking for more guest contributors. I think there’s value in having consistent voices on the blog, so publishing one off reviews from different people is something I’ve been trying to shy away from. I tried to communicate that, but guess it didn’t come through, so I apologize. Anyway, if you’d like to write a review/share your thoughts and email it to me, I’ll publish it if I think it would be interesting.

  17. Lucky,

    Is there anyway to book EVA nowadays besides being their own members? I feel like the availability is really lacking using United miles…..

  18. @lucky @Justin H.

    No need to apologize. And @Justin H No hatred against lucky at all. In fact, I do respect him considering all the time and effort he spends publishing all these trip reports. While I may not have the same ability and means to travel as he does, my post was not ‘hating him’, simply saying my thoughts on not ‘kicking a dead horse’.

    @lucky What just made me sad was, I have worked in the customer service industry for many years, and I respect companies who read customer feedback and actually take action against – it rather than just saying they will ‘work on it’ without doing anything.

    In this case, CZ did change many things, champagne included as well as service… I was just sad that there were posts continuing to bash CZ about their champagne when they’ve clearly put effort in to resolve it.

    I did reply to your email a week later with my thoughts on China Southern first class, mabye it didn’t go through?

    Anyway, thanks for replying, and no apology necessary.

  19. @Alex
    Maybe China Southern has corrected course however, there remains the bad aftertaste of what could easily be interpreted as disdain and contempt for its Western passengers to have assumed that they would either not notice that they were being served $5 carbonated piss water masquerading as champagne or that they didn’t deserve better.

    Perhaps Lucky will fly them again and report back. In the meantime, I’ll pass.

  20. Guess there are some airlines which try harder as they have a smaller established home country customer base, eg EVA.
    On the other hand PRC mainland based airlines appear to have a large home country customer base, and hence they dont try as hard.
    Just a guess

  21. @Lucky-As an ex-FA for Emirates, I can say that some of the customers can be very disapproving of the champagne we served. An older gentlemen from the UK was very unhappy when I presented him with the DP in first class and apparently he preferred LPGS. This just says how demanding some first class travellers can be. If he wants that champagne, then he can come to Air France!

  22. I choose airlines because of the Champagne offered. I fly a lot from Sydney to London and choose Emirates over Qantas as I can be sure to get Dom Perignon on flights from Sydney to London on Emirates instead of taking a gamble and usually being served La Grande Dame on Qantas instead of the rotating Winston Churchill or Comtes de Champagne which I prefer. Can’t bear Veuve Clicquot. Krug Rose in business??? If I ever went to Taiwan I’d chose Eva Air.

  23. While I personally do appreciate a good champagne a lot, I think very few people would base their choice of an airline just by the champagne they serve.

    Realistically, the choice of many business travelers is rather pragmatic so convenience, schedule, and the right frequent flyer program might be the most important for many, as long as the overall product is decent enough. In addition to that, some companies do not even give much choice on which airline to fly.

    As for leisure travelers, it might play a more important role, but still I doubt that the champagne will significantly influence a decision for the most people. Being amongst connoisseurs here, we should consider that quite an amount of people would not even inform themselves on what kind of champagne is served on board, or do not know what they are actually drinking. In other words, champagne is champagne for them, as long as it tastes like champagne.

    To conclude, I do believe that a great champagne will add to the product in the sense of “the cherry on top of the cake”, but it will not significantly improve yields. Yet again, of course this also comes down on what deals an airline is able to reach with the champagne producers and also on how this is brought to the market in the end.

  24. well I guess on a smaller scale British airways always has the little bottles of Piper even on short haul business class but same route on KLM the best you can get is a Cava type thing. Finnair has the best champagne glass design BTW

  25. I am one of those who more often than not pays out of pocket for F class than uses miles, and I could tell you from my perspective – the vintage of champagne does not matter to me. The comfort, privacy, quality of sleep, schedule/routing – those are priorities. Champagne is not. And I enjoy champagne. But I don’t need to be on a flight to enjoy it.

  26. Total cost is price per class times total number glasses consumed . My guess is your average Taiwan customers don’t drink as much as American fellows would have. That might explain why they could serve better stuff on board.

  27. @Alex & @Lucky

    I have left notes in Lucky’s posts suggesting Lucky to re-visit some of the airlines like CZ (and MU at a later date) to see if things have improved after his feedback, and I think it is equally important to have a follow-up and not just a feedback, especially after the airlines have reached out to him.

    This is a well-read blog, and if the airline takes constructive feedback, but OMAAT does not offer an update, it does seem slightly unfair to the airline. Perhaps some other member from OMAAT could try CZ and MU, since Lucky’s name would likely have been flagged out for special treatment. (And i think CZ is ripe for new review)

    Nick I believe is a Skyteam person and a guest writer of OMAAT. Perhaps Lucky can send him on this task, if no other members from OMAAT could do it conveniently.

    That said, if Alex’s review is of substance, why not? I think Lucky’s guest contributors does not have someone based in Asia, so that could be interesting if he can get one good member based here. Many of the best airlines are from the Asia region, so I can see how an Asian based contributor adds value.

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