A woman has received emergency medical treatment after being bitten by an insect during an Air New Zealand flight.
John and Joanne McLaughlin flew business class from Auckland to San Francisco on March 2 and while Joanne curled up to enjoy the features of a lie-flat bed, she was shocked to awaken to a large insect bite.
"My wife woke up in the night thinking that something was crawling on her. Being the compassionate husband I am I told her she was imagining it," John told the Herald.
"Later on she felt something bite her, so she jumped up and shook herself down.
"She didn't tell the cabin crew, but as soon as we got off the plane she showed me the bite.
"It was on her side, and if you got both your hands and put your forefinger and thumbs together, that is how big it is. Which is huge."
John believed his wife was bitten by a spider and she subsequently had to receive emergency medical treatment.
"The doctor said she can't identify the exact insect but is sure it's a spider.
"They gave her a topical ointment and then she developed a little bit of a fever, with flu-type symptoms, so she went back to her normal GP.
"It didn't go away, it has been like that for a few weeks and is finally subsiding now."
He said the couple contacted Air NZ about the incident but felt the airline was "not interested".
"I got this bizarre reply back basically saying they can't stop people bringing on insects, but when you spend US$12,000 to fly back and forth, you don't expect to get bitten by some critter."
While the McLaughlins live in New York, they have a house on Waiheke Island so travel back and forth to New Zealand a lot.
John was disappointed with the airline's reaction, despite insurance covering most of the medical expenses.
"They were extremely unresponsive, and didn't give a rat's a*** actually. When they finally responded they asked us to send them the medical bills, but we are not trying to claim any expenses, we just wanted to make them aware.
"The thing that pissed me off was they took two weeks to get back to us. We are really good customers, paying absolutely top dollar, and then you get bitten by a spider.
"If they are in the cargo hold that is one thing, but if they are in first class that is another. It would have been nice of them to have a slightly more sympathetic response and to have acknowledged that this shouldn't have happened."
An Air NZ spokeswoman said the airline was in contact with the McLaughlins.
"We have offered to pay for any outstanding medical expenses resulting from the insect bite, which he believes his wife received onboard."
She said international aircrafts are regularly disinfected for the comfort of their customers and to comply with biosecurity requirements.
"In addition, blankets and bedding are thoroughly washed after each use and sealed before being loaded back onto the aircraft.
"While we do take all steps necessary to ensure the health and comfort of our customers, we unfortunately can't rule out the possibility of an insect inadvertently being brought onboard."
The spokeswoman said if a customer encounters an insect on a flight they should let the cabin crew onboard know.