When I’m flying up front I enjoy a nice cocktail. In international first class a glass of champagne is especially nice. I’ve strangely never been a huge fan of Krug (the preferred bottle on ANA and Cathay Pacific), and the 2003 Dom Perignon just isn’t up to recent vintages. I greatly enjoyed the 2000 and 2002.
It doesn’t have to be quite the same level of name if it’s thoughtfully chosen, but it does usually have to be a better bottle than the US airlines are willing to spring for in their premium cabins.
Although there is something special about the ‘smirk’ that Singapore Airlines flight attendants do when asking if you’d like champagne. A simple ‘yes, please’ is met with, “Would you prefer Dom or Krug?”
They’re clearly proud that they serve both. And have offered their own branded Dom, as one of the world’s largest consumers of it.
Champagne seems to translate well in the skies. A big red wine for some reason doesn’t, at least for my palate. Even a Lynch Bages or Pichon Longueville will usually taste flat or cloying to me.
Domestically I might have a gin and tonic or a bloody mary. I’m not a heavy drinker in the skies, usually a single cocktail will suffice.
But in the back of the bus? Maybe if I’m in economy plus, or an exit row. But crammed into a middle seat a cocktail sin’t going to take the edge off for me. I’m not inclined to pay for it, and I certainly wouldn’t pay premium cocktail prices for a specialty drink.
Which is why I read with some fascination this Scott Mayerowitz AP story on US airlines developing cocktails that sell at a premium, and also on trends in inflight consumption.
Interesting facts from the piece:
- Virgin America is introducing a feature to let you buy a drink for another passenger, paying at your seat but directing its delivery elsewhere.
- Drink sales peak on Thursdays. It’s the end of the business travel week, so the flight home tends to be cocktail-heavy.
- The unsurprising corollary is that drink sales are lightest on Mondays.
- Spring break is peak time for onboard liquor sales.
- Drink sales plummet between Christmas and New Years. The piece speculates it’s because people travel with their families, and that they’re already drinking for the holidays. It’s probably true that solo travelers drink more (unless they’re in their 20s), but that’s also likely a business vs. leisure travel distinction as well.
- Flights to Las Vegas sell twice the average in liquor, everyone is getting into the party mood. Leaving Las Vegas is a different story…
What are your onboard drinking habits? Do you drink when you fly? Do you drink if you’re in back and have to pay for it? Does an open bar on an international flight change the equation? Is family travel different from business travel? Is solo business travel different from traveling with colleagues?