Cathay Pacific reaches for top shelf with new first class Champagne

By David Flynn, April 3 2018
Cathay Pacific reaches for top shelf with new first class Champagne

Is this the start of a new Champagne War between Asia's premium airlines? Cathay Pacific's first class flyers are now being treated to Krug 2004 vintage Champagne on selected routes from Hong Kong.

The iconic fruit-forward drop – which sells locally for around $450 a bottle – replaces Cathay's go-to Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006, which has a local shelf price of $300.

But this is just the opening shot in "a rotating programme of the finest vintage champagnes" with Cathay Pacific will serve in first class. Also on the cards are the 2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, the 2007 William Deutz Cuvee and the 2002 Piper Heidsieck Rare.

Cathay Pacific is putting extra fizz into first class flying. Drew Theunissen
Cathay Pacific is putting extra fizz into first class flying
Drew Theunissen

For now, the Krug 2004 is featured on first class flights to Boston, Paris, Frankfurt, New York, London Heathrow, Chicago and Vancouver, although Cathay Pacific notes that "additional routes to follow later in the year."

That of course won't include Australia or New Zealand, where the airline's premium cabin tops out at business class.

The reason we cite the Champagne Wars is that Singapore Airlines also happens to offer Krug 2004 in its first class suites.

But the Battle of the Bubbles might not be restricted to Asian airlines, with Emirates this month upgrading its usual Dom Perignon for first class travellers to the elite and exclusive Dom Perignon 2000 P2 edition (which sells here for around $550) in first class cabins on selected routes to Europe, the USA and Asia for a limited time.

The Dom P2 will be matched with new canapés and, on flights to London Heathrow, Tokyo and New York, specially designed seafood dishes.

Because we know you're wondering, and as a yardstick, a popular Qantas' first class inflight Champagne is Vueve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2006 which retails around $250.

Also read: Cathay Pacific plans new first class, business class for 2020-2021

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

MarkJohnSon Banned
MarkJohnSon Banned

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 89

I honestly don’t understand all the fuss.


I’d rather enjoy a great Australian wine with some bottle age, like a Grosset Polish Hill, or a Cullen Diana Madeline. They are substantially cheaper yet infinitely more enjoyable wines than the bottles of PR-fizz described above.

05 May 2016

Total posts 587

There are plenty of drinks available in First in addition to the champagne if champagne is not your thing.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 390

Ridiculous that anyone would pay hundreds of dollars for a bottle of champagne. (Of course the airlines buy in bulk at much discounted rates.)

MarkJohnSon Banned
MarkJohnSon Banned

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 89

I couldn’t agree more. Very few people who know their stuff when it comes to wine give two hoots about champagne.

Tell that to Bernadette O'Shea....

Depends on the bottle of champagne and the amount they're willing to pay. Sure, I wouldn't buy Salon. But plenty of 200-a-bottle champagnes are fantastic value. There are even some houses that have prestige cuvees below 200 a bottle that are REALLY REALLY good (Charles de Cazanove Stradivarius for example).

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

17 Feb 2016

Total posts 47

I think you'll find that SQ also offer Dom in first as an alternative to the Krug which from memory is also available in a half bottle (for those passengers who feel uneasy getting them to crack open a 750ml bottle just for them ).



Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 Mar 2015

Total posts 48

Totally disagree with some comments above. Serious vintage champagne is IMHO an integral part of the 1st class experience. Qatar serves Krug Grand Cuvee. Etihad sadly downgraded from vintage Bollinger to a much lesser marque. Kudos to Cathay and SQ for upping the stakes. Will be checking out SQ MEL-LHR soon.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 May 2012

Total posts 170

Travelling F from HKG to JFK in July. I love Krug and never had the vintage pour before so really look forward to this. I agree robfol in that expensive bubbles is a great perk of 1st travel that I love. Would i spend $450 on a bottle at home probably not but then again other things are like that (I wont be buying a mercedez S-class soon but love being collected in one going to the airport)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Jul 2016

Total posts 23

Last trip on Emirates first it was the $1000 bottle cognac and 4 premium whisky that nabed my attention. I did curve myself to finish the champagne since the only other pax in first was sleeping

MarkJohnSon Banned
MarkJohnSon Banned

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 89

I guess the overarching point I would make is that your typical F pax who fancies themselves as a "connoisseur" could instantly reel off the name of their five favourite Champagne houses yet struggle to name a single Grand Cru vineyard name from Bourgogne. When you pay for those bubbles, you're paying for the Champagne marketing dollars.

Zac
Zac

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2014

Total posts 128

True - but that's probably more an issue with champagne in general than anything to do with the airlines, and they obviously don't pay those prices. I really enjoy trying some of the really expensive champagnes as part of the experience, but then move on and so the rest of the wine list needs to deliver as well. For me it's about getting to try some excellent wines that I wouldn't normally be able to justify ordering or buying.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 161

Vintage champagne can be delicious and is on another level to the average NV bubbly consumed en masse. Effort is put into it which explains the price, although in Australia the price is also inflated by 29% Wine Equalisation Tax on imports (which applies to all imported wine), and demand and prestige feeds the price. In Europe, it's a lot cheaper to occasionally buy a bottle and really savour it for special occasions. I'm quite fussy about champagne and sparking wine myself, but each to their own.

I'm fed up with Bombay Sapphire being seen as a "premium gin" by so many airlines, including SQ and CX. It's anything but.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 61


SQ's advertising hype of the vintage Krug (2004) coincided with the new A380 Sydney flight and the one off Private Room Krug promotion - it was served on this flight on 26/12 SYD-SIN but not on the other 3 A380 F legs on a SYD-LHR return F trip in Dec/Jan 2017/18

On the SIN-LHR flight on 26/12 it was on the wine list but not loaded
Airlines have worked out that brand names attract a particular type of traveller - maybe their market research tells them that bursts of short-term "lure" are lucrative

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 Mar 2015

Total posts 48

That's very cheeky of SQ. IMHO their F is slipping a bit and needs a refresh.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 61

And, respectfully, can I point out that the image you have for the article, is the non-vintage Krug


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