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Travel Comment

Ponderings on all aspects of travel - both at home and abroad.

Flights of fancy

Some reviews of the new Air NZ uniforms have been less than favourable. Photo / Supplied
Some reviews of the new Air NZ uniforms have been less than favourable. Photo / Supplied

When you're flying at 10,000m, how much does it matter to you what the person who serves dinner is actually wearing? Same here.

It obviously matters to the airlines, as part of their corporate image, because most of them put a lot of time and money into designing their uniforms.

Air New Zealand, for instance, has just announced that it has engaged Trelise Cooper - who, in my ignorance, I've always associated with making frilly dresses - to preside over its latest re-design.

They've even released a few pictures showing models wearing pink-patterned dresses and chunky black jackets to give us an idea of what they might look like.

Needless to say I know nothing about this sort of thing so I asked the fashionistas from Viva and Canvas magazines what they thought.

The response was not favourable. The men's waistcoats were "disgusting".

The pink cravats - which apparently have already been rejected by airline staff - were "hilarious".

Opinion was divided on the black jackets, some thinking they might be alright, others reckoning they were "too severe". But there was agreement that the pink-patterned dresses "might be okay on someone who's as slim as a pencil but anyone else would end up looking like a badly stuffed sofa".

That final comment struck a chord because I can remember the time when every hostess was indeed young, attractive and slim as a pencil. But that is certainly not the case these days. On most airlines - Singapore Air is an obvious exception - the hostess who brings your lunch now looks less like a part-time model than someone's mother-in-law.

Not, I hasten to add, that there's anything wrong with having your mother-in-law bring you lunch. In fact given a choice between having my lunch produced by a model or by my mother-in-law I would go for my mother-in-law every time. She is (or was) a fantastic cook.

But the point of all this is that, first, if my fashionista advisers are right then there's a serious risk of Air NZ planes being staffed by a lot of over-stuffed sofas and, second, who cares.

What matters to passengers is not how fashionably the cabin crew are dressed or how attractive they are but what the service is like.

On the whole it has fallen over the years, because in order to cut fares most airlines have reduced the levels of service, especially on budget flights, in economy class and on domestic and transtasman routes, and personally I'm willing to accept that trade-off.

But if airlines are going to invest more on the in-flight experience then I'd rather they spent their money on better food and drink, more and better-trained staff, than on fashionable outfits.

- NZ Herald

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