London Flight Taxes to Be Reduced, Flights that Don’t Earn Miles, and an Airline Dropping $500mm on Wine!

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Re: FTU dining…

    List is largely spot on except Tabard Inn has fallen off the map; no longer recommended by the Post etc. since the big staff/management shakeups.

    No steakhouse on the list – I’d suggest Del Campo over most of the “traditional” steakhouses in the area.

    Jaleo may be the “best” in the walkable vicinity but that still doesn’t make it worthwhile. I’d take a $10 UberX ride plus one of many, many restaurants in downtown DC over the CC Jaleo location.

  2. I flew 4 F sectors on EK last month and found their wine lists to be phenomenal. Miles ahead of any other airline. Which airline do you think has a better list (both in terms of quality/vintage year and absolute retail prices)?

    Also, each flight had a completely different wine list which I found shocking (SEA-DXB, DXB-FCO-DXB, DXB-ICN).

  3. Fine wine seems like a strange thing for an airline to focus us — much less a Middle Eastern airline. Every study shows that most people can’t distinguish between fine wine and cheap wine — and that almost half the population actually prefers the cheap stuff! Obviously, the folks paying for premium classes are much more likely to appreciate better wine, but the improvement in quality once you get above $25/bottle (wholesale) is going to be insignificant for 99% of guests — especially since flying significantly reduces your ability to taste. So other than burning money, what’s the point?

  4. Off topic, but I feel as if we’re getting “Old”. Nobody seems to care about “us” anymore , and my “loyalty” offers are basically nonexistent.

    Companies are just like … yeah … eh SO.. Nobody even does the basics. Say Thank You.

    It’s hard to start OVER and OVER and over again. Ah well… Been a good year.

    C’est La Vie. Have a great holiday.

  5. Ok “ON” topic I guess. There’s really no point. If you want to drink a 200 dollar bottle of wine. And you have the scratch. Go for it.

    There really is no “point”. Have a great week.

  6. Oh and at the risk of “ME” being the disingenuous soul and doing exactly the same thing we’re all “wining” about ( Snark with no Gratitude) allow me to toss it out there.. Yes it’s the net and nobody’s listening but in case anyone would.

    THANK YOU to everyone who made the last year possible. I really had a great time and it couldn’t have been done without so many people’s individual contributions.


  7. @iahphx – most people can’t tell cheap wine from expensive, and objectively, caviar tastes kinda like snot. Point being? They’re status symbols, just like fancy lounges serving food you could get in a $20 restaurant and “priority” this and that, and a bunch of other things airlines do to cater to “premium” passengers. People want to feel special, and if the swill “sells for $100”, they will. Aside from that, wine is an exploding trend globally, particularly in Asia, a key market for these carriers.

  8. If you can’t appreciate the good stuff, please request a glass of Gallo from economy, and leave the premium wines for those of us who can tell, and do care.

    Do you NEED expensive wine in Emirates FC? No, and you don’t NEED Dom and Krug on SQ. And no one NEEDS a shower onboard, much less a private room with a butler. It’s part of the mystique that Emirates is working to create, and in fact charges a premium for. Just because you don’t have an appreciation for fine wines and caviar is no reason to deny them to those of us who do.

    Frankly, flying AA FC from LAX to LHR on a n/s with a one way fare of $12K +, I am quite disappointed in being served $10 Sauvignon Blanc and $12 Malbec, neither of which are as good as I have at home on a daily basis. Even those are everyday Safeway prices, and with careful shopping I can get far superior quality for half of that price at my local discount wine store.

    We are about to fly SQ Suites Class to SIN, and one of the many things we are looking forward to on that flight is the Krug. 🙂

  9. @CW — I think you’re on target. Emirates is offering primo wine for the same reason that people buy Mercedes in the USA (even though you can’t really use them to their potential due to our low speed limits). It’s “status,” or snob appeal, depending on how charitable you want to be. Still, from a business perspective, it seems like a dumb thing to focus on since you can’t really monetize the expenditure: people won’t actually “pay” for the highest quality wine.

    Of course, you could argue that Emirates is behaving like a luxury good retailer — say Gucci — where you spend ridiculous sums of money on superficial improvements but then charge your customers even more exorbitant sums because they WANT to pay more. Seems like a tough airline business model to me, but they do cater to Arab sheiks and such.

    @ Robert Hanson — just because I don’t think it’s a good business strategy to serve very expensive wine doesn’t mean that I can’t “appreciate the good stuff.” When I’m flying an airline, it’s because I need transportation — I’m not going to a wine dinner. And, as any wine expert will tell you, an airplane is a TERRIBLE place to taste wine. I agree with you that it’s outrageous for an airline to peddle cheap wine in int’l biz class — as you should certainly try to offer them the level of hospitality that they are used to. Now, if you want to serve me super premium wine — the stuff I won’t buy for myself because I don’t think it’s worth it — I’ll be happy to drink it. As will you. But, I suspect, you’re also flying for free and not paying for this stuff. If they were going to hand you a $200 bar bill at the end of the flight, I suspect you’d be willing to drink lesser swill, too.

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