A 37-year-old Kiwi accused of verbally abusing Air New Zealand staff on a long-haul flight has escaped court penalties.

The woman faced police charges over allegations she made offensive and insulting remarks to airline staff on a flight from Los Angeles to Auckland in September.

She has appeared before Manukau District Court several times since the incident. After the most recent appearance, on December 6, the charges were withdrawn.

The woman has been granted permanent name suppression. Her lawyer declined to comment and said her client had made it clear she did not want to talk about the case.


A spokesman for the Flight Attendants & Related Services Association, a union representing Air New Zealand and other airline crew, said reports of air rage were creeping up after a drop following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US.

General Secretary Peter Bentley said airline passengers often got on the plane agitated or immensely tired and stressed, and even small annoyances would result in shouts of rage.

During his 12 years in the air, Mr Bentley said the biggest cause was customers who had drunk too much.

"There would be other cases where customers would complain and wouldn't be happy with the response that was given. This was not as common as someone who was inebriated."

He said customers would often become enraged when told they could not have their favoured meal option, and staff had to calmly explain the plane could not be landed to pick up the food of choice.

Staff dealt with abusive customers by identifying the problem and explaining the constraints. Police were seldom called to deal with enraged or abusive passengers, Mr Bentley said.

He said the union offered counselling for any crew affected by air rage or abused by airline passengers.