Couple shaken by Dunedin police treatment after mid-flight incident

By Vaughan Elder

The Melbourne couple were each issued $600 fines for being intoxicated on the flight. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The Melbourne couple were each issued $600 fines for being intoxicated on the flight. Photo / Mark Mitchell

A woman says she was left shaking by the "over-the-top" response from Dunedin police after she and her partner were rebuked for opening a drink mid-flight.

The Melbourne couple, who declined to be named, were each issued $600 fines by police on their arrival in Dunedin on an Air New Zealand flight from Wellington on Tuesday night, for being intoxicated on the flight.

They said they were not intoxicated and the two police officers who met them repeatedly declined their requests to be breath-tested.

One lashed out when the woman asked for their contact details.

"He screamed in my face and told me to shut up otherwise 'I will pull you in and arrest you'.

"His intimidation tactics were so over the top.

"I've never been treated like that."

This left her shaking and she vowed to fight the fines.

Police gave a different story, a spokeswoman saying the pair had been issued an infringement notice after causing a disturbance on a flight from Auckland via Wellington.

"The notices were issued under the Civil Aviation Act after the passengers failed to comply with crew and pilot orders.

The pilot requested police meet the flight after it arrived in Dunedin.

"The people involved displayed a range of behaviours and physical symptoms that indicated an advanced level of intoxication.

"Police actions were consistent with how similar incidents of this nature are managed and the actions of the officers were influenced by the pair's level of intoxication."

Police could not comment further as the pair were free to appeal the infringement notices through the courts.

The woman said they were not intoxicated and all they did was share a beer they brought on board, which they did not know was illegal.

They were not creating a disturbance.

A flight attendant took the beer from them, but failed to notice an unopened bottle stowed away. The attendant later took the second bottle away and mistakenly thought that they had continued drinking.

The woman's partner said they were not aware of the rules and police and Air New Zealand were "over the top".

The issue could have been simply dealt with by the flight attendant on the flight.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman confirmed Flight NZ-463 travelling from Wellington to Dunedin was met by police on arrival at the request of the captain, but would not comment further.

"As the matter is now with police, you'll appreciate I am not able to provide any further details."

- Otago Daily Times

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