Airline wine wastage

A recent Tripologist column in the weekend Sydney Morning Herald travel section inspired me to ask about airline wine wastage. 

I’ve seen the staff pouring out leftover wine on various overseas trips in the past, which made me wonder how much wine is wasted every year by the world’s airlines. At least on international flights, it seems they pour out anything remaining after a trip. As the wine at the sharp end is always in 750ml bottles, this can mean substantial wastage. Unlike your local wine bar, fresh bottles have to be opened for every service. 

Travel editor Michael Gebicki responded with this (I assume it was passed on from a reader’s message): 

“In August 2013, an Emirates 777 was about to descend into Dubai when I went to the toilet. I was horrified to find the cabin staff emptying all the
left-over wine into the toilets. There would have been at least two dozen
half-full, very expensive French and Australian reds and whites going down
the gurgler.”

Admittedly, this is anecdotal, but it confirms my concerns. Happily, though, the plastic and glass quarter-bottles now served by most airlines in economy class would have drastically reduced this wastage at the volume end of the plane. I don’t see much wine in 187.5 ml screwcapped bottles left undrunk. 

In Australia, we can thank our own veteran winemaker Ian Hickinbotham for spearheading the change when he was wine consultant to the now-defunct Ansett Airlines.

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